MINOT, N.D. — There has been much talk about political violence of late, and it has been appropriately centered on the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C., inspired by disgraced former President Donald Trump's conspiracy-mongering about the 2020 election results.
But if we're going to get serious about political extremism, the discussion can't just be about Trump supporters.
A train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed and caught fire in December near Custer, Wash. Now, per a report from KFYR, "a rail union official has told investigators that the derailment was an act of sabotage."
The officials investigating the derailment, including personnel from the FBI, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board, haven't offered an official conclusion yet, but the derailment "happened near where two people had been arrested a month before and accused of attempting a terrorist attack on train tracks to disrupt plans for a natural gas pipeline," the Associated Press tells us.
Is it so hard to believe that left-wing extremists might have hatched a plot to bolster their case against the oil industry by causing a train derailment?
Consider that since the extremely violent demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline, some environmental activists have taken to breaking into pipeline facilities to vandalize them and create emergencies. These so-called "valve turners" are often celebrated as heroes by certain left-wing factions.
More recently, the activists protesting against the Line 3 Replacement Project "blocked public roads and highways that are supposed to be there for everyone’s use, they dangerously chained and locked themselves to heavy equipment, and they even more dangerously barricaded themselves in front of an Enbridge pump station that they then proceeded to damage," according to a recent editorial from the Duluth News Tribune condemning the actions.
Organizers train these activists to get arrested. They hold seminars about it beforehand. A week ago, I posted documents the Line 3 activists were using to organize that training, including assertions that money for lawyers and even court-appropriate clothing would be provided.
There are extremists on the right, most notably in Trump's movement, and that needs to be taken seriously.
What also needs to be taken seriously are the extremists that exist in the environmentalist movement.
Frankly, the latter group is far more sophisticated than the former.
They have networks of deep-pocketed groups that pay for food and travel, and legal expenses.
They have publicity professionals on hand to spin the news media into producing soft-focus, credulous reports about their activities.
But sophistication, and a left-wing message that, frankly, many in the news media are sympathetic to, cannot obscure the violence and extremism at the center of this activism.
A certain strain of Trump supporters is a threat to our society because they refuse to accept the outcome of our lawfully executed national election.
A certain strain of environmental activists is a threat because they refuse to accept the outcome of the various regulatory and legal processes that allow us to produce oil and ship it by pipeline and rail.
These are two sides of the same coin, and we all need to start recognizing it.
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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.