After high school, in 1986, I was a lone white boy fresh out of “the academy” who had joined an all black crew in Freehold, New Jersey, USA to pick up the industrial debris left by the massive development taking place in that area. It wasn’t too long after that that I would find myself a confused and dejected animal in the cages of county jails, rehabs, and the less dangerous dogg pounds of Taker Prison. During my first trip through the county jail, I was visited by army recruiters, and they offered to make a deal with me: all charges would be dropped if I joined the army. I refused. I would not submit. I would continue to rebel. My paternal grandfather, during a visit to the prison facility hidden in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey, nestled in Wharton State Forest, made me aware that what I was experiencing would become a huge part of my informal education. Now that I look back on it, I see the wisdom of his observation.
I despised George Bush, Sr. When he would appear on the TV screen, I could not refrain from cursing him aloud. I would become very agitated just at the sight of him. I did not join war protests since I had already been incarcerated; I already had a record, so I was on parole at the time. I didn’t want to violate parole as I had gained a new appreciation for merely having access to libraries and woods; but, I was aware of the Wintergarden movement and was prepared to make use of it in the event of a draft. Wintergarden was a change in immigration policy in Germany that offered asylum to resisters in the United States who refused to take part in the WAR FOR OIL.
As for the relationship our modern society has with the many animal nations, I am still in the process of coming to terms with the nightmarish processing of chickens and cows to feed the masses. Rarely do I allow myself to reflect too long on how we are fed. I certainly would rather take my chances with bears, wolves, and coyotes than wander into the yards of the McMansionvilles where I would become illegal just for being a living organism. The next few paragraphs remind me of just how angry I am over the development that has occurred in Monmouth County over the past 25 years. I was devastated by the construction of the Freehold Raceway Mall — and the McMansions are a true insult … more than a kick in the teeth, more than a humiliating kick in the crotch … It has filled my body with a deep sense of dejection.
Craig Rosebraugh, when standing before judges during the Congressional Hearings On Eco-Terror (February 12, 2002 ) had said,
“In the early 1990s, I learned that the lush natural acreage I used to play in as a child had been sold to a development firm. It intended to bulldoze the entire area and create a virtual community of homes for the upper middle class to wealthy. Within two years, the land as I knew it was no more. The visual reminder I used to appreciate, the one that would take me back to the years when the fields and trees were my playground, was stolen by a development corporation who saw more value in the land as luxurious houses than for its natural beauty and life.
“I remember asking myself, what would happen to the various wildlife who made the area their home for so many years? Where would the deer, coyotes, skunks, wild cats, mice, raccoons, opossums, and others go? It was obvious that the developers had not even considered these questions. Rather, it appeared, the main pursuit of the corporation was working towards building incredibly large homes as close as possible to one another for maximum financial gain. As the 1990s progressed, I became increasingly aware of the relationship between social and political problems in the United States. No single issue was truly independent but rather was affected by many others. In my work with the local animal advocacy organization, I realized that exploitation and destruction at the hands of human domination over animals also involved much more. Economics, politics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, science, religion, and other disciplines all played a significant role in understanding this unhealthy and unbalanced relationship between humans and other animals. But, by far the most important realization I made was that the problems facing animals, the problems facing the natural environment, and those affecting humans all came from a primary source. Understanding this crucial connection, I co-founded a non-profit organization in 1996 dedicated to educating the public on this fundamental realization.
“During the mid-1990s, through continued formal and informal education, I also began to understand that the history I had learned growing up was only one story of many. I gained insight into the fact that everything I had learned about the origins of the United States of America had been purely from the viewpoint of the colonists and European settlers. Thus, the history I was taught was from the perspective of the privileged white man, which not only told a mere fraction of the story, but also provided an extreme amount of misinformation as well.
“I was never taught that the origins of this country were based upon murder, exploitation, and ultimate genocide. My teachers neglected to mention the fact that the white European settlers nearly annihilated the various indigenous peoples who had existed on this land for ages. Instead, I was taught about Thanksgiving and Columbus Day.”
For me, the rapid development was a nightmare. I would awaken from bad dreams about huge houses dropping out of the sky and landing like swarms of Mother Ships lodging themselves into the earth. Even my nightmares from this time could not warn me of what I see now in Monmouth County. The disparity between the rich and the poor is a disgrace, and the abusive attitudes of the princes and princesses towards their so-called servants leads me to the conclusion that most people being fed by the machinery of society would be much better off living free and hungry rather than enslaved and fed.
In 1984, at “the academy”, there was one philosophy Teacher who went out of his way to open our eyes, and I will never know for sure how much this has influenced me. I believe my mind was good soil for the seeds of truth he planted there. Both the seeds and the good soil were necessary components. Not all students were as receptive. I discovered that my enlightened views disturbed family members during holiday dinners. My exposure to the teacher mentioned above gave me the confidence to challenge some of my maternal grandfather’s most basic assumptions. While I loved my maternal grandfather, I did not hesitate to question the authority of my elders. While my aunts and uncles took his views as gospel or quietly rebelled, I had developed enough confidence and intellectual integrity to become very vocal about my dissension.
Because of these confrontations, certain family members took my journals to my grandfather, who, in turn, declared me to be a subversive communist! Feeling violated, I took all my notebooks, written between 1980 and 1986, down by Lake Topanemus in Freehold, set them on fire, and buried the ashes by the old pit where many of us would gather as teenagers to hold council by the fire. This is how intimidated I was by the opinions of society, a society that first touches me in the form of my kin. My thoughts disturbed my sister enough to compel her to go in person to the academy to complain about the teacher who had awakened my mind in such a powerful way.
I became paranoid, but I was determined to continue to develop my capacity to rely on my own brain rather than have others convince me that I was “crazy”, “deluded”, or any other label meant to undermine my confidence in the brain I had evolved with. Regardless of the racial tensions that I may have experienced in jail or on the streets, I am well aware that the current politics of today’s prison industry cannot be viewed outside of the context of the history of Africans in the New World. Truth is the enemy of power, and once one has reflected deeply on the tragic realities of slavery, genocide, and the prison industry, one is able to come to terms with the captivity discussed in Quinn’s Ishmael. We have to see the bars of our cage before we can even begin to organize our escape.
I don’t think we should be too critical of the movements that took place in the 1960’s. We just have to face up to the sad facts that often the very solutions that help human societies offer no solution to the animal nations or to the earth itself. This is the main thrust behind being a species traitor who pushes for the collapse of civilization. It is quite a quandary. How rebellion is turned into fodder to feed the machine itself ! — we can’t seem to find the bars of the cage.
Voting will not cut the mustard. If it could, then voting would be illegal.
We cannot allow the fear of being labeled a “terrorist” or an “eco-terrorist” prevent the free flow of communication. We have to be able to stand with confidence against herd morality. There is too much at stake to leave things in the hands of “the experts”. Writers and artists have to become vocal on issues that may be dominated by the so-called authorities. As we are human beings, and even more so, as we are animal life on this planet, we have higher instincts we answer to, instincts higher than any governing body.
If the gorts think the US military is helping to protect them by attacking the Arab Nations, then they would believe the best way to deal with angry hornets is to throw a rock at the hive. In order to eradicate terrorism in the world, imperialism in all its manifestations must be abolished. As long as the masses are held captive by the underlying ideologies of empire, even the most progressive thinkers among us stand no chance. Therefore, a basic call to consciousness becomes a primary strategy in confronting empire.
That many have tried and failed will not deter us. We are connected to the web of life, and we cannot know what the spirits of the earth will do to help the earth breathe free. Therefore, those who find themselves being systematically destroyed by the business as usual policies of imperialism may discover that the landscape in need of saving, and perhaps the only one we can rightly claim to have any control over, is the landscape between our ears.
Native Mind of good ole’ Gort Busters continuously tried to point this out to us, that the masses are duped, tricked, and bamboozled. George Carlin sadly observed that, “Nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care.”
And yet they will care deeply about something as meaningless as a World Series or a Superbowl or a man “supposedly” landing on the moon.