In Green Is the New Red (City Lights), former American Civil Liberties Union staffer Will Potter argues that a Green Scare has infected America. Without denying that many environmentalists have crossed the line separating peaceful dissent from sabotage and violence, Potter makes a strong case that the authorities have exaggerated the threat such activists pose. The word terrorism is now applied to everything from minor vandalism (one firm described rude stickers left on SUVs as “a new form of eco-terrorism”) to more serious but still nonlethal forms of aggression. In the process, industry lobbies have attempted, sometimes successfully, to ram through bills that federalize local crimes and chill free speech.
Unfortunately, Potter is less skeptical when the topic turns to right-wing terror, an exaggerated threat that he takes at face value. But the encroachments he laments are part of a larger expansion of federal police power, one that affects the right as well as the left. —Jesse Walker