FUR COMMISSION USA COMMENTARY, AUGUST 30, 2003
(Revised Sept. 1, 2003)
Every cloud has a silver lining, even the huge pall of smoke and ash that billowed over a San Diego suburb on Aug. 1.
In flames was a 206-unit condominium project under construction in University City. And at the site was a banner proclaiming: “If you build it, we will burn it. The E.L.F.s are mad.”
ELF, of course, is the Earth Liberation Front, bed fellow of that other terrorist mob with which fur farmers are all too familiar, the Animal Liberation Front.
While an arson attack on a condo project arguably merits no more attention than an attack on a fur farm barn, the reality is different.
Fur farm attacks rarely make it into the public’s field of vision, and even when they do, they are soon forgotten. But the blaze in San Diego is estimated to have caused $50 million in damage, and money talks.
The media take notice, the column inches roll of the press, the public are outraged, law enforcement reallocate their budgets and staff, and politicians sign on to tougher legislation.
If this sounds too cynical, ask any environmental reporter which was the “largest” prior attack in the US by ELF. Without exception, they will recall the 1998 arson at a ski resort in Vail, Colorado. Damage in that attack was priced at $12 million. Even the terrorists themselves buy into this phony sense of priorities; in a Sept. 1 press release from the North American ALF Press Office, the San Diego arson was described as “the largest act of environmental sabotage in US history” simply because of the cost of the damage.
Of course, a family that has its farm invaded, its mink released and its breeding records destroyed will probably suffer more, emotionally and financially, than a giant real estate developer or ski resort operator. But the plight of individuals in rural areas can never compete for front-page space with major conflagrations in upmarket residential and recreational areas.
The Vail fire was the most costly act of ecoterror in US history, and law enforcement took notice. In San Diego, ELF upped the ante by a cool 416%, and surely no stones will be left unturned to bring the culprits to justice.
The good news is that a net set for the people who torched the condominium complex will capture those involved in similar crimes against farmers. Eco-terrorists are such a small group of multiple offenders that locking up a dozen or so will clean up a nationwide crime spree.