MINOT, N.D. — As the years-long regulatory and legal saga around the Line 3 pipeline replacement project in Minnesota has unfolded, many of the activists opposed to the pipeline have vowed that their opposition will mirror the violent, months-long protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
That hasn't happened yet, but already left-wing activists are instigating inane stunts to get themselves arrested in protest of the pipeline.
Some of the rhetoric used by protest organizers against the pipeline has seemed calculated to inspire violence. Winona LaDuke, a founder of the anti-pipeline group Honor the Earth, has used the term "blood oil" (a reference to blood diamonds) to describe the product Line 3 will move.
She's also compared the workers who will build the pipeline to the Nazi soldiers who exterminated human beings at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“So, you know, there’s some people that are up there trying to get some money because it’s a really difficult time in the north. But you know what? It’s kind of like getting a job in the gas chamber,” she said during an interview with a PBS affiliate.
“That’s a great job to have, but it’s really not the job you want to have for the long term and that’s what this pipeline is like. It’s like the ecological equivalent to Auschwitz. That’s what this pipeline is. So I don’t want to work in the gas chamber and I don’t want an Auschwitz,” she continued.
For months in late 2016 and early 2017, law enforcement officials from North Dakota and around the country fought to protect pipeline workers and private property from violent anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.
Now LaDuke and her fellow activists are vowing to recreate the violent DAPL protests in Minnesota, casting the oil industry and the people who work for them as villains on par with murderous Nazis.
As a practical matter, how is that any different from disgraced President Donald Trump's ugly rhetoric against Congress, and his own vice president, which inspired an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol?
The problem is not opposing pipelines and oil production or believing the 2020 election was somehow stolen from Trump, though I, and I suspect many of you, find both positions to be equivalently wrong-headed.
The problem is people who have concluded that their cause is so righteous they are justified in scaring and even hurting other people to get their way.
Yet, violent environmental extremists who try to stop lawfully permitted pipelines with fear and mayhem are treated much differently from violent Trump supporters who try to overturn Trump's opponent's legal election.
The former get feted by Hollywood celebrity activists and kid glove treatment from many in the news media.
The latter, of course, are deplorable to the same.
Aren't both groups deplorable?
Shouldn't we revile any group of people who seek to achieve their political goals with violence and fear?
Or is our judgment of the means based on our affinity to the ends?
I hope the protests against the Line 3 project and other oil and gas projects around the country don't turn violent. Yet, based on comments from LaDuke and others, I'm afraid they will.
If that happens, I hope the Line 3 protesters are condemned in the same fashion the Trump rioters were.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.