Whether or not James J. Lee, who invaded the corporate offices of the Discovery Channel Wednesday armed with explosives and a gun, was a terrorist or not would seem to be open to debate. Certainly PJM has been unable to discover any ties between Lee and any known ecoterror group — despite his radical environmentalist manifesto.
At the same time, groups such as the Animal Liberation Front could be expected to disavow any connection to him. As PJM reported earlier this week, the operational model groups such as ALF use would preclude them from taking responsibility for incidents where a human being was harmed or potentially harmed.
PJM did contact Dr. Jerry Vlasak, spokesman for North American Animal Liberation Press Office — an ALF front organization — to pose that very question:
We haven’t heard of him. … We do not approve of his methods. … I’m not going to say we don’t agree with some of his ideology, but there is no reason to believe he’s part of the animal liberation struggle.
This incident does serve to point out the real potential for violence from the environmental movement. More troubling is the fact that Lee — who had a long-running grudge with the Discovery Channel and who spent time in jail on disorderly conduct charges after a 2008 protest against it — was not on some sort of watch list.
Such as the kind advocated for “right-wing extremists” by a Department of Homeland Security document last year.
Lee claimed to be inspired by a book, Ishmael, written by Daniel Quinn. Regardless, he seems to have been a severely disturbed individual who needed help. With his death, we have only his writings, his manifesto, and the posts on an Ishmael discussion board (found by TheWrap.com) to determine what drove the 43-year-old to pick up a starter pistol, construct eight explosive devices — the four he took to the Silver Springs, MD, location and four more which were discovered and detonated at his house — and take hostages.
Perhaps most disturbing? The number of people on left-wing blogs who have ignored Lee’s environmental and left-wing leanings and dismiss him as a nut — which he undoubtedly was — and who deflect along the lines of: “but look at the real violence on the right.” (Of course, without providing examples.)
Worse, there are those who seem to agree with him — for example, this comment from a Huffington Post piece on Lee:
OilCrash: So what would be wrong with “programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility”? There are way too many people on this planet. My personal motto is “Human beings, no damn good.”
The unfortunate reality is that — because of media bias — eco-terrorism will continue to be ignored until someone dies, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars in economic damage already caused by groups like the ALF and the occasional high=profile case such as Lee or Joseph Stack. Recall Stack committed suicide by flying his small plane into an IRS building, after leaving behind a six-page document complaining about the evils of taxes, the IRS, and capitalism, and ending with the phrases:
The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.
In the end, Lee was simply a sad, deranged man who pointed a weapon at an innocent life and thereby ended his. Would that all terrorists ended so.