'Ecoterrorism,' or Justified Protest?

I was troubled by the depiction of extreme environmentalists as "ecoterrorists" and other loaded terms in the article "Violence Escalates in the Name of Environmentalism" (Oct. 26). As we all know, one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, yet America seems ambivalent about extremism in the pursuit of justice.

Law and justice are often not the same, and the law is heavily biased toward the powerful, such as large developers. Compared with the willingness to kill on the part of groups on the right, extreme environmentalists use cautious methods. Maybe we've forgotten the message behind the Boston Tea Party in our transformation to a status-quo society.

C. Van Aller

Rock Hill, S.C.

Regarding "Violence Escalates in the Name of Environmentalism," I found your inside headline containing "environmental extremism" totally misleading. This article gives only passing mention to the roots that underlie the "growing frustration among ... those who fail to make their case in established legal and political forums." There is complete lack of acknowledgment of the despair that betrayal by our system brings to those who truly care about the environment. Citizens who go through the "proper channels" try to have faith that right will prevail in law or politics, but we are fooling ourselves.

Money and the inside track will only prevail as long as those who defile nature cannot see that there is only a fine line between a developer/profiteer destroying nature and a totally fed-up citizen destroying man-made structures.

Janet Levers

Via e-mail

Roots of a conflict

In the opinion piece "Congo's Quiet Descent" (Oct. 28) on the current crisis in the Congo and what led to it, it says that the story began in April 1994 when extremist Rwandan Hutus attempted to exterminate their Tutsi compatriots. This is incorrect.

The story began in October 1993, when the Tutsi military in Burundi assassinated the first-ever democratically elected president of Burundi, the Hutu Melchior Ndadaye. Horrific massacres immediately followed. The assassination of Ndadaye and subsequent violence strengthened the position of extremist Hutus in Rwanda, simultaneously discrediting the moderates. Rwanda was at the time undergoing its own negotiation process meant to lead to a democratic transition, and the extremist Hutus were able to point to Burundi as evidence of their argument that Tutsis had no use for democracy, and were only interested in maintaining power. This hardly justifies genocide.

Paul Patin

Fairfax, Va.

Elections in Wisconsin

You are right in the editorial "Focus In on Wisconsin" (Oct. 29), that the Senate race in Wisconsin deserves extra attention. It is deserving because of the severely slanted, if not false, advertising provided almost exclusively by one side. Senator Feingold made an effort, successfully, to prevent Democratic Party "soft" money from being used on his behalf. Mr. Neumann never claimed an attempt to prevent it.

I have watched the written communications between these two candidates and supporters, and there is no comparison between the two camps. The indirect support of Sierra Club for Feingold is largely different than the Republican National Committee's support for Neumann in terms of orientation on issues, focus on significance, and slanting of statements. The RNC plunged to new depths of negative campaigning. Even Neumann deserves better than what they did.

If Mr. Neumann wins, I question what dignity or credibility will be left in the position of senator. All future campaigns will be available to those with the deepest pockets and the lowest ethics.

Jay Warner

Racine, Wis.

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