I have long been a subscriber to Will Potter’s blog,Green is the New Red. It keeps me updated on recent attacks on freedom of speech and provides a watch on the injustice that is attacking our right to nonviolent direct action. I had just finished reading Dara Lovitz’sbook, Muzzling a Movement, and had researched the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (1992), followed by the chilling Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (2006), so I knew to what depths large animal agribusinesses would stoop to protect their financial interests. Activists were being arrested for hosting websites and for chalking slogans on the sidewalk. Not only that, they were being placed in Communication Management Units (CMUs) to further isolate and penalize them for their nonviolent beliefs. And they were being labeled terrorists, a word that has long-term consequences for anyone convicted of it.
Potter weaves a fascinating tale that goes between actual terrorist attacks, such as the ten nail bombs exploded in Madrid, and the desperate acts of activists frustrated with a world in decline, including arson and targeting of individual exploiters and their families. As someone who is invested in peaceful, nonviolent activism, some of the reported efforts discussed in the book seemed sadly misguided; even some of the activists who once participated in arson now regret doing so. But supporting certain tactics, or criticizing the same, are not the main thrust of Potter’s book. His book, like his blog, reports on a shift in attitudes towards activism and freedom of speech that predates the attacks on the U.S. that took place September 11th, 2001.
In the new world Potter explores, being vegan is seen as radicalism, there is guilt by association only, free speech is labeled as terrorism; and CMUs have been developed to keep prisoners, and aspects of the prison system, under wraps. Eco-activists are seen as a threat in two areas: profits and tradition. The use of intimidation towards activists also reflects a perceived threat to the existing social paradigm that is expressed by eco-activists and animal rights advocates. Mr. Potter has done an admirable job of detailing an environment in which those who are trying to save the natural world are at odds with those who want to pillage and destroy her. A very good read.