Just say they’re terrorists | VailDaily.com

Just say they’re terrorists

Matt Zalaznick
Vail CO, Colorado

The eco-loonies who burned down Two Elk are as evil as the Sept. 11 hijackers and Timothy McVeigh.

That’s what the government thinks. They didn’t hurt anybody and they only caused property damage, but they’re still terrorists.

It’s no surprise from a Bush administration that holds the economy ” or at least certain segments of it ” more sacred than human lives. Consider all the troops who have died to enrich Halliburton and other mega-contractors in Iraq.

Look at the outrageous profits Darth Cheney’s oil-company buddies are making while the rest of us are now deciding whether to fill up the car or go to the movies this weekend.

After Sept. 11 the president didn’t ask Americans to be nicer to each other, he asked us to go shopping.

The prosecution’s reasoning that these Earth Liberation Front deadbeats are terrorists is because they used violence in an effort to change government policy. Sentencing them under the terrorist label won’t put them behind bars any longer, but it could land them in a nastier prison. And oh yeah, the government can say it’s winning the war on terror.

Chelsea Gerlach, the late William Rodgers and other conspirators who have plead guilty in the Two Elk fire and other arsons deserve the stiff sentences they’ll likely get next week. Though their goals of having us worry more about the planet may be more rational than Osama bin Laden’s narrow, racist, sexist, medieval and miserable worldview, their use of arson is indefensible and they’re probably lucky no one was hurt or killed.

But court documents say Rodgers, when he was setting Two Elk and other buildings on fire, did not ignite one structure because he saw two people sleeping inside. So, unlike the Bush administration, he apparently decided human life was more precious than his goals of liberating the environment from mankind’s oppression.

The ELF arsonists should be no one’s hero. What they have in common with the administration is resorting to violence when they could use more creative, peaceful and effective ” though less spectacular ” ways to solve a problem.

ELF’s violence only won more support for Vail Resorts’ and its plans for Blue Sky Basin. The Bush administration’s waging of the war on terror in Iraq has only created more terrorists and obliterated the country’s reputation.

What’s most frightening about the desire to declare the ELF goons terrorists is the precedent it could set of designating anyone who steps out of line while protesting government behavior a terrorist.

Who’s next? People who protest less-than-peacefully at World Bank meetings? Will a downtown window-smasher be equated with a suicide bomber?

Or what about folks who march in an effort to get the government to change its policy on illegal immigrants? What if they get a little aggressive when the cops start to get belligerent? Send ’em to Guantanamo.

What about someone who calls the administration a terrorist in an effort to change government policy? Is that verbal assault? Is that unpatriotic? Round-up the left-wing columnists before they try to sneak box cutters onto a 757!

The most dangerous result of slapping the terrorist label on every homegrown thug is that it weakens the word “terrorists,” and thus the country’s ability to recognize a real evil-doer. The real bad guys still want to do us far worse harm than burning down the nation’s ski lifts and mountain-top restaurants.

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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