Environment Magazine

Cure “Terrorism”: Heal the Earth

Posted on the 19 April 2013 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal



By Sasha

Since the FBI “found their men,” the cause of the Boston bombing has been linked to Chechen separatism, Islam, and even immigration. However, the truth lies much deeper than any apparent motive (or lack thereof). While the bombing must be condemned by any standards, there are some very deep disconnections that have to be recognized.

During the manhunt, according to the BBC, “The FBI maintain[ed] a long list of potential threats emanating from US individuals or groups harbouring violent intentions towards the federal government, civil organisations, or society in general. The list includes white racial supremacists, fundamentalist Christian extremists, animal rights activists and anti-abortionists.” Let’s be honest: the FBI has nothing to fear from animal rights activists; animal rights activists will never randomly bomb a giant gathering of people. They wouldn’t hurt a fly. (In fact, let’s note that while all this was going down, the ALF were removing 200 steel traps from the forest to defend wildlife against a terrible cruelty that is largely ignored in our society.) 

The kind of weird logic behind the FBI’s list is symptomatic of the larger problems at play: total social disconnection and a virtually impenetrable cultural bubble that fails to understand anything about itself or the effects it has on the world.

Still, there is something immediately unsettling about the images of the young men flashing in front of our screens: how American the Tsarnaev kids look. US citizens cannot write them off as fanatics so easily when they look like our own kids. Particularly the younger Tsarnaev, who has lived in the US since he was 9 years old, and bears the same boyish gaze that adorns the visage of the “Batman shooter.”

Nobody’s family background gives them the right to kill innocent people, but perhaps some psychological issues can be better understood to get to the causes (not the motives) of their actions. Over a hundred thousand Chechens (up to half of whom were children) were displaced during one of Stalin’s infamous forced migrations. After living in present-day Chechnya for decades, stripped of the possibility of cultural heritage and religion under Soviet rule, they retained strong bonds to their sense of self in their place.

When the Soviet Union crumbled, many Chechens mobilized to become independent, but they were brutally repressed by the iron fist of Boris Yeltsin and then Vladimir Putin (pictured above, riding bear-back). Only then, after the wars that marked the 1990s and 2000s, did Islamism become popularized in Chechnya (largely through the Salafi teachings which have been spread throughout the world by US-backed organizations like the World Muslim League).

While the US stood as allies behind the Russian Federation’s chauvinism in Chechnya, the landscape was rendered, according to an aid to Yeltsin, an “environmental wasteland.” Oil spills, radioactive pollution, and chemical spills resulted from the massive bombardment of Chechnya. Half of Chechnya today is officially considered a “zone of ecological disaster” by the Russian Federation. This may be part of the reason the Tsarnaev Brothers had only spent one year in Chechnya, itself, throughout their entire lives.

Place is something seriously underestimated in today’s neo-liberal world of rootless adventurism. People need a sense of place, they need to feel like they belong. For generations, Chechens were known as the “French of the Caucuses” because of their long history of egalitarian struggle, dating back even to the 17th Century when a revolution overthrew Mongol and regional overlords, establishing the tukhumtaip systm of decentralized democratic governance. Due to their proud tradition of independence struggle that predates the onset of Salafism, Chechen freedom fighters have never been fully identified as “terrorists” by the US—even after 9/11, when Putin pointed at the “Islamo-Fascists” in his back yard, George W Bush backed off, insisting that Putin shouldn’t go around calling everyone terrorists just because they are fighting a separatist war.


If we call what happened in Boston “terrorism” then, as a previous EF! Newswire statement showed, we have to do the same to US military assault on children throughout West and Central Asia. The bombs that went off in Boston are not necessarily connected to a specific Chechen separatist organization or Al Qaeda. They didn’t have to be.

What separates the Boston bombing from the mass shooting at the Batman film—or any mass shooting for that matter—appears to be a very thin veil of ideological confusion and alienation between nationalist struggle and religious struggle. Chechens do not hold deep resentment against the US, which is why there has never before been a terrorist attack against US citizens by Chechens. It also explains why the Tsarnaev brothers, who were perhaps more American than Chechen, according to their friends, became the attackers.

Both the Boston Bombing and the Batman shooting represent extreme mental instability and disconnection. These kinds of attacks are larger ramifications of the profound alienation that people, immigrants and locals alike, feel in US society. The problem is not Chechnya vs. Russia, US vs. Chechnya, Christians vs. Islam, or whatever. The problem lies within the essence of the human relationship and the human condition of being in a world that we are devastating. The only cure to what plagues us; the only way we can possibly heal is to open up to the earth and restore our belonging on the planet.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog