Student Fees and Tax Dollars at Work

March 6, 2003

By Owen Courreges

The Houston Review: A conservative student monthly serving the Houston area.

P.O. Box 524253

Houston, TX 77052-4253

To submit a Letter to the Editor: 

Rice University is under fire for sponsoring what some are calling a terrorist training session to be held at a Texas state park. The agenda for Rice University's 11th Annual Environmental Conference includes a full-day training session on March 2 at Brazos Bend State Park --  -- where Houston Earth First! will be teaching about "security culture, the use of ropes and tripods for direct action," presenting information on local campaigns, providing "tactical training," and discussing the history of Earth First! in Houston.

Earth First!'s primer on direct action --  -- states that, in previous direction action campaigns, Earth Firsters have "cracked the Glen Canyon Damn on the Utah-Arizona border; climbed high into old-growth Douglas fir in Oregon, coast redwoods in California and the rainforests of the Canada coast, and sat on tiny platforms for days or even weeks; buried themselves up to their armpits in roads being cut into wilderness in Idaho, locked themselves to cement-filled barrels at a nuke plant under construction in Tennessee; occupied caves in Texas to save endangered species, and occupied uranium mines on the north rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona." The primer brags that through such tactics "thousands of EF!ers have been arrested around the world" as a result of "Earth First!ers, putting their bodies on the line."

Young Conservatives of Texas State Chairman Chris Allen stated, ""Direct action" with "ropes and tripods, " "security culture," and "tactical training" are euphemisms for what, in light of Earth First's heinous record of perpetrating acts of violence, appears to be an eco-terror training session. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) should not allow terrorist training in our state parks and it is appalling that Rice University, which purports to be one of the nation's finest schools, would sponsor this kind of destructive activity."

Allen added, "We are asking our members to email Rice President Malcolm Gillis at and TPWD Director Robert Cook at  to tell them that, while the First Amendment protects the right to free speech, Rice should pull its sponsorship of this conference and the state parks should not host instructional sessions designed to train activists to commit acts of violence."

The three-day Conference entitled "This Land is Your Land: Public Lands. History, Philosophy, and Controversy" is sponsored by Rice University, the Live Oak Alliance, and Houston Earth First!. The Conference was started by Rice student David Greene in 1993 and is billed "as a way for Rice students to share their environmental research with the community." The conference begins on Friday, February 28 and continues on March 1 with lectures held at Rice, before concluding on March 2 with the activities at Brazos Bend State Park.

Underwriters of the conference include Rice's Energy and Environmental Systems Institute and the college's Environmental Science and Engineering Department. Rice's Media Relations Office told the Review they were not aware of the Conference. The full agenda of the Rice Conference is enclosed below.

Conference speakers include George Russell, the founder of the "The Universal Ethician Church." The agenda notes that Russell operates the websites  and

Another speaker, Darryl Cherney, is best known for organizing a decade of anti-logging protests in California that have blocked traffic and obstructed ships transporting logs. Conference coordinator Sunshine Swallers is a leader in the Houston Anarchist Black Cross, which seeks to free so-called U.S. "political prisoners."

While no conservatives or free-market environmentalists have ever been invited to speak in the history of the Conference, this year's agenda marks a sharp veer to the far left.

Previous conferences featured more mainstream speakers such as Gillis, former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier, and former Texas Land Commissioner Gary Mauro.

Moreover, never before has a group as radical as Earth First! co-sponsored the event.

Earth First! was launched in 1979 by Dave Foreman, who thought that the environmentalist movement had become too moderate. He advocates "voluntary human extinction," arguing that "phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental." Foreman also has written a book on how to drive spikes into trees and other ways to ''monkeywrench'' chain saws and logging equipment. He ultimately pled guilty in 1991 to felony conspiracy in a plot to blow up the power lines of three nuclear power generating stations.

Earth First! routinely destroys property and drives spikes into trees that cause chainsaws to buck and maim loggers. The ''spiking'' of trees with steel rods causes chainsaws to whip when they hit the tree, endangering the lives of lumberjacks.

Foreman left the group in the early '90s, saying that Earth First! had swung too far to the left.

However, Earth First! still promotes the sale of the book "Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkey Wrenching," which describes the tactics and techniques of sabotaging mechanical equipment, vehicles, and related items.

Earth First! members are suspected of causing a 1990 pipe-bomb blast at a Louisiana-Pacific Corp. sawmill in Cloverdale, California.

According to the Earth First! Books website --  -- the "Earth First Direct Action Manual" augments and updates techniques described in an earlier EF! manual, Ecodefense, suggesting it not only includes monkeywrenching instructions, but offers guidance on other techniques that are equally or more dangerous.

Among its other claims to fame, Earth First! actually published the newsletter articles (in the Earth First! Journal) from which "Unabomber" Ted Kaczinsky chose his last two victims.

Theresa Kintz, editor of Earth First Journal, said, "I don't have a problem with seeing their facilities burn down. It's a war." Kazinsky's views were also shared by former Managing Editor John Davis, who wrote that "the deep ecology movement, or the Earth First movement, would like to see human beings live much more like the way they did 15,000 years ago."

In 1997, Delilah Wilson, an Earth Firster from Boseman, Montana, was convicted in both state and federal court of assault on Senator Conrad Burns, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, and Montana's Governor Marc Racicot, after having thrown rotten bison entrails on the men during a public meeting.

Earth First leader Rodney Coronado served 3 1/2 years in prison in connection for arson at a Michigan State University lab in 1992.

An organization called the Ruckus Society --  -- was started by another Earth First! co-founder named Mike Roselle.

There is a link to the Society on the Rice Environmental Conference website. Ruckus was largely responsible for the 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle, which ended in mass rioting and the destruction of Starbucks and McDonald's restaurants. The Ruckus Society trains young activists in the techniques of "monkeywrenching."

"This is Jihad, pal," Roselle said in 1995, likening his movement to radical Islamic terrorism. "There are no innocent bystanders, because in these desperate hours, bystanders are not innocent. We'll broaden our theater of conflict."

A similar conference with links to eco-terror is being held February 13-14 at California State University at Fresno. According to the Los Angeles Times and the Center for Consumer Freedom, participants in this confab on "Revolutionary Environmentalism." The Los Angeles Times reports that the February 13-14 conference will include:

* Rodney Coronado -- a convicted multiple arsonist who spent 57 months in prison for torching a Michigan State University laboratory, received over $70,000 from PETA's tax-exempt coffers, and now fronts for the violent animal rights group SHAC (for current info on this group, visit )

* Paul Watson -- an animal rights terrorist on the high seas who is an international fugitive, has sunk at least 10 ships, and told the Animal Rights 2002 conference: "There's nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win"

* Craig Rosebraugh -- a former ELF "spokesperson" who invoked the 5th Amendment more than 50 times in a congressional hearing in 2002 about his organization's lengthy crime spree

* Gary Yourofsky -- an employee of PETA who proudly sports an Animal Liberation Front tattoo on his arm, has been arrested over 10 times for animal rights crimes, and has told fellow activists: "Do not be afraid to condone arsons"

* Kim Marks -- a "spokesperson" for Earth First! (the radical green group that spawned ELF in 1992), at a time when ELF claimed responsibility for setting fire to logging equipment, fire engines, and bulldozers

* Rik Scarce -- a Michigan State University professor who let Rodney Coronado use his home as a base of operations during a string of arsons in 1991, and was jailed for 5 months for refusing to tell a Grand Jury what he knew about Coronado's ALF crimes. Scarce argued in his book "Eco-Warriors" that wholesale human extermination would be "an environmental cure-all."

Numerous academic departments at Cal State Fresno are sponsors of the conference, even though most of its proceedings will be closed to the taxpaying public that funds the University.

Bruce S. Thornton, a professor of classics and humanities at Cal State Fresno, said, "There's a question of inviting people who aren't just advocates of violence, arson and vandalism to campus, but also those who have actually participated in such acts, and giving them a sort of university validity, not to mention spending state taxpayer money to do so. To use an extreme example, if somebody was interested in the psychology of child molesters, would they bring a convicted child molester to hear what that person has to say? I think not."

Copyright 2002 The Texas Review Society, Inc.