Charge the Real Domestic Terrorists

David E. Sonner

To the Editors:

What a joy it was to read that the state of West Virginia has enacted anti-domestic terrorism legislation (The Oberlin Review, Feb 11, 2011). To quote from the article, “Under West Virginia law, acts of terrorism are described as acts that are ‘likely to result in serious bodily injury or damage to property or the environment,’” or influence the conduct or policy of government by ‘intimidation or coercion.'”

Clearly then, it is the duty of West Virginia law enforcement officers and of West Virginia’s justice system to identify, track down, capture, indict, try, convict and imprison all the rotten bastards who are guilty of such crimes. What a joy to muse on this inspiring sequence of events and on such a happy result. I imagined that at the front of the “perp walk” procession would be Don Blankenship (perp waddle, in his case), whose performance as the president of Massey Coal matches word-for-word the criminal conduct specified in West Virginia law.

Even more clearly, alas, such a happy outcome is not likely to occur anytime soon. For in West Virginia, and elsewhere in this great — and greatly abused — land of ours, law enforcement, the courts and elected and appointed government functionaries are the obedient servitors of Marfork Coal (a subsidiary of Massey Coal) and of this great nation’s other many enterprises of devastation. Craven. Complicit. Corrupt.

It follows then, that the awful rigor of the law, both criminal and civil, are being applied vigorously against those who seek to protect West Virginia from devastation.

The 29 Climate Ground Zero activists, who are characterized by Don Blankenship as “domestic terrorists,” do not cause damage to property or to the environment. CGZ does not blast mountains to rubble, then shove that rubble into valleys, thus obliterating forests and waterways, thus destroying homes, schools, towns. Marfolk Coal does that every working day.

Some days are more devastating than others. Don Blankenship was president of Massey Coal on the day the Upper Big Branch mine blew up, causing bodily injury serious enough to kill several dozen miners — the worst U.S. mine disaster in 40 years. So far.

And so far, in the Marfork Coal effort to punish CGZ, a ruling has been obtained from a local West Virginia judge that requires CGZ to yield the identities of “all people directly or indirectly involved,” quoting from the Review article, in any of the several CGZ-led protests. CGZ estimates that to comply with the judge’s order, thousands of names will have to be compiled and submitted. The judge says, “Tough, do it!”

And I say, OK, let’s! In the spirit of willing, even generous, cooperation with the law, let’s comply. Let’s give Judge Hutchison what he demands. And then some. All, ALL the names of those who, directly or indirectly, have been involved. Instead of the Marfork Five, howsabout The Marfolk Ten Thousand. Thirty Thousand! More?

I am involved (directly or indirectly?) by writing this letter. You are involved, dear reader, by reading this letter. Everyone we talk to about this is likewise involved to a measure that qualifies under the judge’s universe-sweeping standard of involvement.

The Marfolk attorneys, since they bill by the hour, will be delighted, I am certain, to be deluged by names — hundreds, thousands of names, coming from coast-to-coast, border-to-border.

So, I will start to muse again, imagining a happy sequence of events, one that will lead to happy results. I begin by imagining that CGZ recognizes the value of a very large outpouring of support. I imagine that they will establish a mechanism for gathering names. I imagine that CGZ will endorse the idea that each name should be accompanied by a dollar (or more!), since CGZ’s attorneys bill by the hour, as well. And, chances are, there will be fines imposed on the Marfork Five.

Even so, fines or no fines, I imagine that, in part because of a powerful demonstration of support, the Marfork Five and Climate Ground Zero emerge from the present tussle undaunted. Undaunted and stronger, better able to work toward the happy — the essential — result of stopping the devastation. And in gleeful particular, I look forward to the perp waddle.

–David E. Sonner
Oberlin Resident