by Eamon Farrelly, who lives on a small homestead on the edge of Appalachia with his wife. He spent several months organizing blockades of the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. He is currently organizing new blockade efforts against the tar sands industry. To contact him concerning supporting this campaign, email him at EamonStruggle@riseup.net.
Earlier in the summer I got a call from a friend. They asked if I had checked my email yet, and told me to do so. My inbox had a message from a friend who is an anti-tarsands activist. The message contained a link and password where I could view a Power Point presentation that had been assembled by TransCanada (the Canadian oil firm behind the Keystone XL Pipeline) and presented to law enforcement agents including the FBI in Nebraska.
My mugshot was in this presentation, along with the mugshots of basically everyone else who had been arrested taking action against the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas. This presentation had been discovered by a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by BOLD Nebraska, and when the media got hold of it, one of the items they focused on the most was the fact that the presentation contained suggestions of charges to be used against anyone caught blockading construction of the pipeline, and there was even a suggestion that law enforcement look into applicable terrorism charges.
While it is frustrating to see each and every new aberration of so called “justice,” they no longer take me by surprise. We live in the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world, and the penal system blatantly targets non-white people. We live in a country where it’s a crime to even unknowingly cause a “public disturbance” near a “security event,” yet it is not a crime contaminate the rivers with mercury or glyphosate, where it is not a crime to eliminate the last standing old growth forests, and where it is not a crime to drive up the child leukemia rate in a community by emitting toxins from refineries, so long as that community is poor and not white. Essentially, we live in a country where causing illness and death is absolutely welcomed, so long as it is done slowly and indirectly, and so long as you make a lot of money doing it. But stand on a street corner with a sign demanding accountability or climb a tree in a bulldozer’s path, and its Tasers, pepper spray, beatings, felony charges, conspiracy charges, grand jury investigations, absurdly high bails, and a corporate media that fawns over the law enforcement structure the entire time, as if causing incredible pain in someone who has dared to point out the emperor’s lack of clothing is a high and heroic calling.
Reading through the Power Point presentation, what bothered me the most was a short little section titled, “Protester Motivations.” The drafters of the presentation cherry picked three short segments of quotes people had given at various times to media personnel that contained no real content. The section painted “protesters” as aimless hobbyists who have no real qualms with the oil and gas industry, who have no understanding one way or the other concerning the ramifications of climate change, who don’t give a damn about lives being lost — human and not — at the point of extraction all the way to refinery communities. Nope, we’re just a bunch of weirdos who have nothing better to do than to be wet and cold in the back woods, like spoiled children really, who would be off spray painting walls or smoking pot in our parents basements if we weren’t “protesting.”
Again, I’m not naive. Of course TransCanada staff aren’t going to compile a presentation detailing exactly how many lies they’ve told the public, how much land they seized through eminent domain, or how much they skimp on pipeline safety; let alone rise to a level of honesty where they would own up to the poisoning of land the Athabasca Chipewyan people still live off of in Alberta, or to the level of climatic damage mining, processing, and burning tar sands is going to level on all living beings on planet Earth.
Of course, I’m not exactly sure why they would be afraid to be honest with the FBI, DHS, and local sheriffs they had the privilege to “brief.” Were they afraid that they might stumble onto a cop who actually still had a beating heart, or some still barely functioning conscience? Were they afraid that by detailing the level of atmospheric damage their product poses, a cop in the field might not goose step up to the nearest hippie chained to an excavator and issue decisive pain compliance “in the name of the law?”
My frustration is ultimately with the deception of the entire culture, the self deluding that is necessary for the entire death machine that is industrial capitalism to function. Lies, stacked on lies, buried under yet more lies, without which a dedicated FBI agent might not feel that the best use of their time was to monitor the small handful of human beings who actually care about more than televised sports and are willing to get off the couch and to demonstrate it. The same lies that corporate paper pushers tell themselves so they’ll suffer morning traffic day after day on their way to the office where they can play their small part in the mass extinction the planet is now undergoing. These are the same lies we tell ourselves when we sit back down in our houses, hiding in our comfortable lives, pretending that we have no stake in the game and that we are powerless to affect it anyway.
If the NSA, FBI, DHS, and fusion center goons are really needing to understand “protester motivations,” well hell’s bells, just ask!
Personally, my primary motivation for being away from my family and dangling sixty feet in the air is NOT WATCHING EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING I LOVE GO FUCKING EXTINCT! Yes, this is a possibility, if not a probability now! I know that your pea brains function on a need to know basis, and if someone you consider higher than you on the human hierarchy doesn’t tell you to believe something, you won’t believe it, but if you have an iota of cerebral capacity that hasn’t been completely radiated into gray mush by years of state sponsored propagandizing and Pavlovian boot licking, know this: Industrial activity has set in motion a series of events that through positive feedback loops have the very real potential of wiping out the life support systems of the planet. If there is any hope left, any at all, it is in the abolition of the fossil fuel industry, and in the dissolution of capitalism. Every time you use the force of your weaponry and your fists to remove those who are merely in the way of the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, you directly aide in the holocaust that is now consuming upwards of two hundred species per day; a holocaust which will absolutely lead to the collapse of the global biosphere if it is not immediately halted. That includes you, and your kids, and my kid, and I will not sit back and let that happen.
While we’re at it, here’s some bonus info; I’m not a “protester.” I’m a human being who gives a fuck, and who hasn’t been morally and spiritually crushed despite the best efforts of those who profit off of the silence and complacency of the masses in the face of genocide. As a person of conscience and soul, I am not willing to stand by as the forests fall, as the waters run black, and as the least among us are continually exploited and made to suffer the most.
And TransCanada, you’re Power Point got one thing right. You’ll see me again. Now go rot in hell you selfish, murderous, Eichmanns.
Thanks to an abundance of contributions, there will be a new essay posted in this space every three days for the foreseeable future. McPherson’s latest for The Good Men Project kicks off a series. It appears here.