This is more on Jackie's post "I'll Take What I Can Get" a few days ago. This is an email I received this morning from PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an organization that I revere. Clearly the IRS is not an environmental organization, but the recent attack on the IRS in Austin has the environmental government employees worried again.
In the early '90s, conservative castigation of "over-reaching" by the federal government rose to a crescendo. One Republican U.S. Senator referred to EPA employees as "jack-booted thugs," other Members encouraged physical resistance against federal regulation - especially environmental rules. Right-wing militias sprouted up in every state.
In the West, federal biologists and rangers were targeted. One ranger based in Nevada had both his office and his home firebombed; the Forest Service relocated him saying it could not guarantee his safety. Federal employees were advised not to travel alone or wear their uniforms in public.
Spurred to action, anti-government terrorists blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, mostly federal workers but also children in a day-care center on the ground floor.
Following that tragedy, the virulent anti-government rhetoric subsided… until lately.
In February, Joseph Stack flew a plane into a building housing IRS and other federal workers in Austin, Texas. Hours later, a Facebook page appeared under the "Don't Tread on Me" flag being waved at Tea Party events. Here are some of the comments posted:
"Mr. Stack is a true American hero."
"When does terrorism become patriotism?"
"Joe Stack had the balls to make a point - and his point certainly received international attention."
"If I were in that building…I would have been honored to die for a good cause that would finally at least open up some eyes."
Experts cite a direct correlation between threats and attacks on public employees and agency enforcement efforts - especially on resource protection issues.
PEER has been tracking attacks and threats against eco-employees ever since Oklahoma City and we maintain the only such database.
The threat of violence against public servants did not hibernate over the past 15 years but it can escalate when fueled by irresponsible statements from politicians seeking to co-opt the latest populist trend.
Support our efforts to monitor and combat this dangerous undercurrent before it builds to another ugly catharsis. Help us protect the public servants who protect our environment.