By: Dr. Robert C. Speth  Date: 12/4/2003

December 2003: I believe there is a malignancy in the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) which could pose a serious danger to those who look to Universities as a bastion of knowledge and truth, distant from corrupt and reckless thought arising from willful malice toward humanity.

The manifesto advocating support for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), posted on the internet from UTEP by Steven Best, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy, invites anarchy and is a blatant attempt to recruit members for ALF and its sinister sister organization, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).

Starting with "I support the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). I support property destruction against industries that massacre animals and rape the planet," this 4000-plus word tirade attempts to portray the ALF as a noble organization by slandering any and all who work with animals and profit by doing so.

To those who doubt the seductive nature of ALF and ELF recruiters, I encourage them to read the tragic story of the Eagle Creek 3 from Portland, Oregon. This story "Grooming an Elf" describes how a self-ordained ecoterrorist, Tre Arrow, seduced 19-year-old Jake Sherman into committing a series of arsons attributed to the ELF. In Sherman's defense, a psychiatrist referred to Arrow as a cult-like figure who used his charisma to groom Sherman to do his bidding in a manner analogous to sexual predators!)

We should not forget the lesson of Professor Theodore Kaczynski whose love of nature, nurtured during the anarchistic rebelliousness of the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1960s, metamorphosed into a 17-year attack on humanity which did not end until he was revealed to be the Unabomber.

Acknowledging that the ALF engages in illegal actions, Best attempts to separate ALF's terrorism from that of Al Qaeda. Yet he provides no basis for distinguishing between the self-serving terrorist acts of either of these groups. Indeed, Best's attacks on modern day American civilization in support of the ALF: "…the real lawbreakers are corporations such as Enron and the US government…," are indistinguishable from the attacks upon 'American decadence' spouted Osama Bin Laden and his ilk or those in the Unabomber's manifesto.

Best insults the heroism of King, Ghandi, and the American Revolutionaries by trying to analogize their efforts with the clandestine criminality ("Direct action" in Best's words) of the ALF. Martin Luther King spoke of "having a dream." Mohatma Ghandi openly voiced his opposition to foreign rule. John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence in letters so large that "The king will be able to read them without his glasses." The ALF has no such eloquence, nor justification. Lacking reason that can survive an open forum, it chooses threats and violence hidden in the dead of night as its expression. Best's prediction of the success of the tactics of ALF contrasts with the demise of another organization that used similar tactics, but wore white hoods.

Best tries to analogize the ALF to those who resisted World War II Nazis. In reality, the ALF has far more in common with the Nazis than their resisters. Hitler's armies were generated with misleading and dishonest propaganda. Enemies of Hitler's regime had their property confiscated. The ALF relies on rhetoric and cleverly phrased half-truths to recruit their army of true believers. And they too confiscate their enemy's property! Hitler's regime denied harming or killing innocent people. The ALF denies causing human harm by disavowing themselves from their colleagues found guilty of such crimes. And most eerily, both the Nazis and the ALF have embraced the philosophy of animal rightism.

Ranting against hypocrisy in the last section of his pro-ALF exhortation, Best reveals the fatal flaw of his manifesto. Best is only capable of looking in one direction: toward people he thinks are exploiting animals more than he does. He lacks the ability to look inward at his selfish abuse of animals, or to look at how he might emulate those who cause much less animal death by giving up some of his essentials, e.g., driving a car, using electricity to provide creature comforts to himself, eating food or wearing clothes made of fibers grown by farmers who kill animals or displace animals from their habitats so as to provide their crops to him.

I emailed Dr. Best suggesting that if I honestly believed that he was committing crimes that I felt ethically obliged to prevent, that I might be justified in writing "A jerk drives this car" and putting glue in the locks of his car. His response to me was: "I would have to consent to all this, Bob, but the catch is I would have to be harming life in some way to justify that, which I am not. Sorry."

I wrote back to Best saying "I'm surprised at your naivete regarding the damage cars cause to the environment and animal habitats. Given the argument that the anarchists are using to destroy Hummers and other SUVs, it doesn't take much of a logical jump to recognize that Toyotas are doing the same thing, just on a smaller scale." Best did not respond to this comment. Perhaps he was too busy cleaning the bugs off his windshield to remove the evidence of his crimes against the animal kingdom.

Aside from the untenability of Dr. Best's philosophical position, the object of his affection, the ALF, is friend neither to human nor animal. The ultimate goal of the animal liberation movement is to make all animals wild: to destroy the symbiotic relationship that has benefited both humans and animals for countless millennia.

The ALF makes generic claims of animal abuse in animal agricultural operations that do not hold up to the light of day. I have seen mink kits playing in their cages, lolling in their nesting boxes at fur farms. They are not disease-ridden, malnourished, or cannibalized by their siblings as are their wild cousins. However, thanks to the ALF many mink thriving at fur farms have been liberated into certain and painful death, either as roadkill, by starvation or through environmental disruption.

One could similarly compare the lot of domestic cattle with that of wild cattle. Domestic cattle receive veterinary care, as much food as they need, protection from wild predators, and a quick and painless death. Wild cattle must constantly forage for food, fight off malnutrition and illnesses without medical help, and be constantly alert to predators. Ironically the wild cattle most fortunate are those who might be killed quickly by a predator. If not so lucky they might die only after being partially eaten, or from debilitating illness, or from exposure following an immobilizing injury. Deaths in the wild generally occur after prolonged suffering and pain.

The virtue of the ALF is as absent as the faces of its members. The only tangible marker of ALF is the malicious destruction of property, the wanton sacrifice of animal well being, and self-righteous bigotry. How a supposedly learned individual, who presents himself as an academic scholar, can choose to defend such an organization is beyond my comprehension.

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