Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Signed into Law
Earth First! Journal, Jan-Feb 2007
January 11th, 2007 by Will Potter
After a cold and wet morning, politicians and celebrities slogged through the muck of the National Mall on November 13, to pay tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. and break ground on the new national memorial in his honor. Democrats and Republicans, Clinton and Bush, Oprah and Jesse were all on hand in muddied wingtips and pumps, clamoring to show their support for the civil rights leader and his once-controversial tactics.
Representative John Lewis of Georgia told PBS NewsHour, “King inspired me and thousands of other Americans to get in the way. He inspired us to get in trouble. But it was good trouble; it was necessary trouble. And that’s why we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. today.”
But hours later, those who had spent the morning waxing eloquent about dissent and making trouble were nowhere to be found as about half a dozen lawmakers allowed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) to pass the House of Representatives on a voice vote.
...the most disturbing segment of this whole scare-mongering debacle was how Sensenbrenner ended the floor debate: “This is a good bill. I think that all of the fears that the gentleman from Ohio has placed on the record are [considered] ill-founded by practically everybody who has looked through this bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).”
The ACLU, in fact, had sent a letter to members of Congress on March 6, urging opposition to the legislation, and the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) sent a nearly identical letter. The biggest concerns raised in these letters were never addressed by Congress. Yet while the HSUS and other mainstream animal welfare groups like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were outspoken against the AETA, the ACLU informed lawmakers in September that “the ACLU does not oppose this bill.”
Why? Perhaps because there are so many other civil liberties issues competing for critical attention. Perhaps because corporate scare-mongering and green baiting has turned animal rights activists into political lepers. Or perhaps history repeats itself. The ACLU has a long, venerable history of defending the civil liberties of even the most unsavory characters, including the KKK. Yet during the Red Scare of the ’40s and ’50s, the ACLU formally barred communists from leadership or staff positions. Meanwhile, the National Lawyers Guild took a beating for refusing to name names and purge members who also belonged to communist organizations, but it stood its ground.
This time around, the National Lawyers Guild was out front opposing the AETA and the Green Scare. And this time around, the silence of the ACLU spoke volumes, essentially giving the Green Scare the green light.
You can read the full version here.