Will Potter recently posted about something the federal government is teaching. They’ve developed a PowerPoint presentation about animal advocates:
“It spells out, with startling candor, that animal rights and environmental activists are less a threat to national security than to corporate financial security. And it shows that the targets of this ‘War on Terrorism’ aren’t just people burning SUVs: the targets are people using their First Amendment rights. [...]
“The State Department admits as much, noting that activists ‘push the envelope right up to the line where another step would mean they are breaking the law.’ In other words, most of these ‘terrorists’ aren’t committing any crimes.” [emphasis added]
I took a look at the presentation and it’s pretty funny. Here are some characteristics of an animal rights “extremist”:
- “By appearance supporters of AREs [animal rights extremists] are generally average, everyday people.”
- “They are dedicated to animals and are adept at getting their propaganda out to like-minded extremists.”
- “Many AREs are tech-savvy”
“[A]ctivists aren’t afraid. Despite the “eco-terrorism” rhetoric, despite the FBI attempting to infiltrate vegan potlucks, despite Joint Terrorism Task Forces arresting activists for wearing masks, and on and on and on, activists aren’t backing down and they aren’t caving in to fear. That, after all, is the entire point of all the “eco-terrorism” scare-mongering: to instill fear in everyday people and make them afraid of using their rights. If this chilling effect doesn’t occur, well, the government and corporations have quite a problem on their hands.”
I don’t completely agree with Will. I think many activists are scared of the FBI and prison. Many actively attack or shame the advocates who break the law, even when the law is immoral.
However, speaking as an animal advocate, the fact that the FBI is protecting animal enterprises makes me even angrier about the situation for animals. It proves to me that animals need my help more than ever now. Basically, it tells me that society won’t change gradually. If major reform is ever going to happen, if we’re ever going to ‘change the world,’ it’s going to be forcefully resisted. The people who exploit animals would rather put me in prison than stop abusing animals.
The fact that the FBI considers animal advocates “terrorists” and the fact that the AETA exists are two things that actually inspire me to become more of an activist. They don’t deter me or frighten me from speaking up on behalf of animals, they encourage me.
That said, my particular brand of activism is this: writing, blogging, sharing information. I’m not likely to go to a lab and rescue animals. I’m not likely to perform direct action other than vegan education. That is, my brand of activism is exercising my first amendment rights. And unfortunately for me, that’s exactly the brand of activism they target.