Who encourages and supports ELF terrorism?

We all know that children take their cues from adults.

They look to us to help them learn right from wrong; they look to us to learn what is safe and what is not; they look to us to help shape who they will become as an adult.

Everything we, as adults, do, say and believe has a profound influence. Our opinions become the foundation for what their opinions will become.

And while our opinions may not be the same opinions our children ultimately hold, they certainly play in role in forming them.

And through this evolutionary transference of our belief systems to our children, desensitization occurs over each generation — ideas that may once have seemed outrageous, unacceptable or radical, over time become less outrageous, more acceptable and ultimately mainstream.

As I watched in horror as three beautiful homes in Snohomish County burned to the ground earlier this month, a cowardly act of eco-terrorism claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), I wondered what kind of person could think the violent destruction of someone else’s property was a legitimate form of self-expression?

As I struggled to understand the mindset of these terrorists, it struck me that what

I was witnessing is the result of a gradual desensitization that has been taking place for decades.

It began with the realization in the 1960s and ’70s that humans had a certain responsibility to act as stewards of the planet and resources God had so generously provided.

After the progress, success and excess of the Industrial Revolution, followed by the economic prosperity and contentment of the post World War II years, Americans began paying attention to their impact on the environment.

But what started as a genuine concern for ensuring the sustainability of the environment over the decades morphed into an obsession with the environment.

Now we have Al Gore telling our kids in the classroom, the movie theater and YouTube that the earth is dying. The sense or urgency is undeniable — the ice caps are melting, the sea level is rising and the polar bears are drowning.

The danger is imminent. Our children have heard the message.

They have been indoctrinated in an era marked by increasingly strident and passionate calls to save Mother Earth.

They have also been formed at a time when more and more often the ends justify the means.

If the motivation is right, then you can circumvent the rules. Society — our elected officials, our schools and the media — have given tacit approval of this principle.

Examples abound: Recently at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, a professor urged students not to cooperate with the police in its investigation of a student riot that resulted in tens of thousands of dollars of damage.

The riot itself was TESC students’ response to police attempts to maintain law and order — an effort TESC students characterize as an affront to their social justice sensibilities. Students didn’t like the way the police treated a student — so they rioted.

The professor didn’t like the police’s response to the rioting students — so he urged them to defy the police in the subsequent investigation.

Their motivation is “right,” so breaking the rules is OK. The end justifies the means.

Another example: King County Executive Ron Sims’ “donut hole” deal.

When the government sells public land, the law requires competitive bids so taxpayers get the best deal.

Sims simply ignored the law and brokered a no-bid agreement to sell coveted rural county land to a single developer—a private deal cut without public scrutiny and no competitive bidding.

Claiming a dubious “unique circumstance” exemption, Sims defended his action with the excuse that the “unique circumstance” was the deal he brokered with the developer gave the county the opportunity to purchase environmentally sensitive land the County had long sought.

Sims wanted this environmentally sensitive land in the County’s hands so it could be protected, so he skirted the rules to make it happen.

The end justifies the means.

Given this attitude that permeates environmental debate today, can we really be shocked when our youth takes this green light to skirt the rules to the extreme by burning down homes?

The kids who torched the houses in Snohomish County and the kids who earlier burned down a research center at the University of Washington are simply expressing what they’ve been taught: Preserve the earth at all costs.

The older folks in the mainstream enviro groups silently applaud this new and novel approach: If you build it, we will burn it. It’s the next, natural step in the environmental movement.

Brad Spears is president of the Building Industry Association of Washington.

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