* Co-founder of Greenpeace
* Board member of the Sierra Club
* “There’s nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win.”
Like the purveyors of radical Islamic terrorism, the eco-terrorist uses fear, intimidation, and violence in attainment of its goal, which for the eco-terrorist is simply the reclamation of the Earth to its pre-humanity condition, no matter what the cost. Heading up this domestic terrorist offensive of radical animal-rights and extreme environmentalism is Paul Watson, who, even amidst the nation’s grief over 9/11, made the audacious statement, “There’s nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win.”
Born December 2, 1950 in Toronto, Canada, Paul Franklin Watson is considered by many to be the originator of environmental terrorism; what he refers to as “passionate activism.” Watson was one of the founders of Greenpeace, the largest environmental rights organization in the world, with over 5 million members claiming allegiance in over twenty countries. Watson left Greenpeace, which originated as a splinter faction of the 1960’s anti-war group “Don’t Make a Wave Committee,” due to the passivity of that group. Because Greenpeace has objected to the use of excessive violence in protests, Watson has disparagingly dubbed his former group the “Avon ladies of the environmental movement.”
In 1977, Watson founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), which he describes as a “policing organization,” but which is in fact a radical terrorist outfit that travels the oceans of the world perpetrating violence against the fishing industry. Watson oversees a small fleet of ships outfitted with cement-filled bows built for the sole purpose of violently ramming and sinking ships they deem enemies of the environment; this could include everything from large whaling ships to small commercial fishing vessels. Each of Watson’s boats is armed with high-powered water cannons and is protected by electrical barbed wire. His group has used acid, explosives, and a host of other means to disable and sink “enemy” ships. Watson himself has been known to brandish an AK-47 assault rifle that he has used to fire on fishing vessels. Painted on the sides of his ships are the names of those boats he has sunk.
Paul Watson’s method of operation is not all that different from that of the nineteen suicide highjackers of 9/11. Instead of airplanes, Watson uses his boats to ram and sink the objects of his disdain. Of his 1979 sinking of a commercial whaling vessel, Watson stated, “I set out from Boston in the Sea Shepherd with a crew of 19 volunteers…I hunted down, rammed, and disabled the pirate whaling ship Sierra…[We] fired up the engine and made for the Sierra, which was in the middle of the harbor. I hit her at full speed….” Although this attack failed to sink the Sierra, Watson and his crew returned for a second attack on the vessel and “blew the bottom out of her and permanently ended her career.”
Although there is no definitive count, Watson is responsible for ramming, scuttling, and sinking a slew of boats across the world’s waterways, all in an attempt to bring about the cessation of the fishing industry. Watson has also used the threat of force in pursuit of other causes. In 1992, despite his animals-first/humans-last stance, he threatened to sink a fleet of ships reenacting Columbus’ voyage of the discovery of America on its 500th anniversary if the participants did not sign an apology for Columbus’ mistreatment of American Indians.
Watson’s dogmatic and authoritarian love of animals and nature, coupled with his hatred for humanity has led him to make such absurd statements as “earthworms are far more valuable than people.” Watson has gone so far as to preach a blasphemous set of “ten commandments” that he authored, with the goal of elevating animals and nature above people. His first commandment reads, “Don’t bring any more humans into being”; the tenth reads, “Don’t get caught by the forces of anthropocentrism.”
When a former Greenpeace colleague criticized Watson for sinking half a fleet of Icelandic whaling boats in 1986, Watson replied, “So what?” he said. “We did not sink those ships for you or for any of the six billion hominid a–holes on this planet…we could not give a damn what human beings have to say about the actions.” “The world will be a much nicer place without us [humans],” he said on another occasion, adding that he “owed no allegiance to humanity.” This message is incongruous with his assertion that the SSCS is “a vehicle to empower people.
Aside from jeopardizing the lives of seamen in the fishing industry, Watson has also taken his terrorist crusade onto dry land. He oversees the radical activist group, Coeur du Bois (Heart of the Wood), which spikes trees targeted for cutting by the logging industry. Watson himself has claimed to have created “tree spiking,” which consists of driving large nails into trees in attempt to hurt lumberjacks upon their felling or milling. His plan succeeded, and in 1987, a mill worker in California received a broken jaw when his band saw struck spikes in a tree, causing the blade to splinter in an explosion of shrapnel. Without a scintilla of remorse, Watson said, “Those loggers don’t give a damn for future generations… And if they don’t have any compassion for the future, I don’t have any compassion for them.”
For his crimes against both people and property, Watson has spent much time in the jails, and before the judges, of numerous countries, from Canada to Costa Rica. In 1997, he was imprisoned in a maximum-security facility in the Netherlands, where he was picked up for the scuttling of a whaling ship at dock, and the intentional ramming of a Norwegian coast guard vessel. Most recently, Watson was investigated by a Costa Rican court for the attempted murder of a local fisherman. In 2002, when he came across a shark fisherman in a 13-foot vessel, Watson attempted to ram the fisherman’s boat with his SSCS mammoth flagship “The Farley Mowat,” originally named “The Ocean Warrior.” When the cameras are on, Watson pretends to accept incarceration as the price for saving the planet from the scourge of humanity. “Going to jail is simply the price of doing business as an activist,” he has said. However, after posting bail in the Costa Rican case two years ago, Watson fled the country.
In April of 2003, Watson was elected to the board of directors of the Sierra Club, “America’s most influential environmental organization.” Watson’s goal for the Sierra Club is to alter the club’s founding philosophy to include his own brand of radical eco-terrorism. At an “animal rights” demonstration, Watson declared, “One of the reasons I’m on the Sierra Club board of directors right now is to try and change it…we’re only three directors away from controlling that board…Once we get three more directors elected, the Sierra Club will no longer be pro-hunting and pro-trapping, and we can use the resources of the $95-million-a-year budget to address some of these issues.”
What can an eco-terrorist like Paul Watson do with $95 million of the Sierra Club’s funds? Most likely, more ship-ramming and tree-spiking, in what Watson describes as an “open war.” “We should never feel like we’re going too far in breaking the law,” says Watson.
In a recent interview, when asked if he viewed violence as a “legitimate means of social change,” Watson replied, “We are a violent species, and we always solve our problems with violence. There have been no exceptions. Nonviolent victories are a myth. Force has always prevailed…One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.”
This profile was adapted from the article “The Greens’ Favorite Terrorist,” written by Thomas Ryan and published by FrontPageMagazine.com on May 4, 2004.