Yes, terrorism


Ryan Lewis, a 21 year old young man, languishes in Sacramento County jail, facing charges of domestic terrorism. His alleged crimes implicate him in Earth Liberation Front bombings of housing projects which failed to meet their standards for proper construction siting and/or design. Acording to the Sacramento Bee, he has made incriminating statements to the FBI, though he has not been convicted of anything yet.

We want to see, whatever Ryan has done, that there be a just punishment," his 49—year—old father said during an interview at the family home. "We think Ryan falls into the area of a protest gone wrong."

"He is not a terrorist," added his 43—year—old mother, Sherry, who teaches first grade in Roseville.

I have deep compassion for Ryan's parents. It is most natural for them to plead for their son to be treated as an arsonist rather than as a terrorist. But if he engaged in arson in order to intimidate builders into following his group's preferences, then he is a terrorist, and ought to be punished as such. Society cannot tolerate such tactics.

But it gets worse. This young, undoubtedly idealistic young man underwent an ideological conversion at college. His parents may have been victimized, along with their son, by the blandishments of someone with a name:

[His parents] concede he has changed dramatically in recent years, drifting from the family's strong Christian beliefs and Republican views to the point where sometime in the past year he decided he was an anarchist.

The change began in part, they said, when he started taking philosophy classes at Sierra College.

"We would have intense discussions," Sherry Lewis said. "He slowly didn't believe in God. Then he didn't believe in the Bible."

He declared himself an anarchist, and resisted his father's efforts to persuade him that anarchy does not have a long record of success in world history.

The parents say they spent a great deal of time trying to understand their son's beliefs. When Lewis went to an anti—war protest in San Francisco, his father went along.

And when Lewis went to an Earth Day conference at Sierra College, his father also attended and came away shocked by what he had heard.

There, an author known as an anarchist spoke to students and, according to Greg Lewis, told the group violence may be necessary to achieve goals such as protecting the environment.

"I said, 'Hey, you're not swallowing this crap, are you?' " Greg Lewis recalled.

He said Ryan replied he was an anarchist and concerned about the environment. Greg, who works doing home renovations and remodeling, told him there are environmentally sound ways to build, and that Ryan could have 5 acres to do so himself.

But it was clear he no longer was the boy they had known a few years before, the one so honest that when he applied to a Bible college he admitted to his mother he had tried marijuana once in the seventh grade.

If Ryan received indoctrination which incited him to terror activity at college, then prosecutors have bigger fish to fry. I hope they are pursuing investigation of the unnamed speaker.

Thomas Lifson  3 04 05