Even during these politically-charged times, when Tea Party activists stomp on the heads of opponents and conservative media moguls take pies to the face, the radical and destructive actions of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) still seem pretty extreme.
Don’t remember the ELF (by name anyway)? You’ll probably remember them as the “eco-terrorists” that torched a whole bunch of buildings in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1990s. They were radical environmental extremists who made the nightly news by setting ablaze a Forest Service ranger station, a slaughterhouse, a timber company office, an SUV dealership, a $12 million resort in Vail, and on and on and on.
It’s a short, volatile period in the history of the environmental movement that most mainstream environmentalists would probably prefer to remain forever swept under the rug. (And, it should be noted, most environmental activist groups and organizations, including NRDC, which publishes OnEarth, immediately and vehemently renounced these actions at the time.) Indeed, many mainstream environmentalists probably aren’t thrilled that there’s a new documentary out about the explosive rise and sudden fall of the ELF.
And that’s a shame. Because If A Tree Falls is a powerful and fascinating film, and one that could and should be instructive for participants in any social movement.