Konformist of the Year
Sometimes, the most powerful word that can be said is "no." Julia "Butterfly" Hill has been showing her power for over a year now.
While many so called "rebels" and "mischief-makers" have proven how daring they are by sitting their duffs in front of a computer and printing frivolous internet zines, Julia Hill has tried something a little different: she's sat her duff in a tree.
More specifically, since December 10, 1997, she has sat in the Redwood tree known as Luna the Stafford Giant, an act of determined civil disobedience. Her sit-in is approaching 16 months, protecting a tree (and surrounding trees) threatened by Pacific Lumber and the Maxxam corporation, run by corporate raider and financial swindler Charles Hurwitz.
Julia Hill is also a member of Earth First!, the passionate environmental organization regularly labeled a "terrorist" organization by the mainstream media over dubious at best allegations that they were involved in spiking trees. That such a "terrorist" organization regularly engages in non-violent acts of civil disobedience seems to fly in the face of the charge. Thanks primarily to her sit-in (by far the longest in history), Earth First! has finally been getting some positive media coverage, as they most well deserve.
An examination of the campaign against Earth First!, which includes the still controversial bombing of Judi Bari and the botched investigation which followed, proves it to be an echo of the COINTELPRO campaign of the sixties on waged against groups the FBI deemed as "subversives." What Julia Hill has helped prove is that she and her kind are a threat to no one but big korporations that want to plunder for profit. Indeed, Hill's campaign has opened the eyes of many in groups that would be normally suspicious of those associated with her cause, such as those in the Patriot/Militia movement. When all the frivolous ideological values are removed, Earth First! and the Patriot community are one and the same: groups of dedicated people who value the land, and do not like how the establishment, both government and business (which is one and the same), is stealing it from the rest of us in the name of mammon. As a symbol of uniting different causes, Hill deserves celebration alone.
But beyond the symbolic, Julia Hill deserves to be admired for the values she embraces. Taking a page from Gandhi and Martin Luther King, she has proven that the greatest threat to elites is not war, but peace. The not-so-big secret is that the government LOVES violent anti-authority types, as they more effectively demonize dissent than any speech by establishment mouthpieces can. If violent anti-authority types don't exist, then the authorities are happy to manufacture them, which very likely is what is really behind the Oklahoma City bombing and the Unabomber. To the establishment, there is nothing more threatening than a Julia Hill, a person who turns rebellion into an idealistic, moral cause.
The civil rights movement rightfully celebrates heroes like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, men who spoke the ideas that will influence millions for generations to come. But many consider the true spark for the civil rights movement the act of Rosa Parks, the woman who said "no" when told to get off her seat. From that one act, an entire social revolution was started. Julia "Butterfly" Hill has waged the greatest act of civil disobedience since Ms. Parks, and with that act, another revolution may well be sparked.
Perhaps the most telling victory for Julia is not that she has chosen to stay in the tree for so long, but that the authorities have LET her stay up there. An examination of the Humboldt County's vicious methods at dealing with anti-logging demonstrators (including swabbing eyes with pepper spray) proves they have little moral qualms in using the iron fist of the law at full force. What has stopped them this time is most certainly not morality: it is logic, namely that the outrage caused by attacking a peaceful woman sitting in a tree is more trouble than it is worth. Instead, they have let her merely sit, hoping that eventually Hill's willpower would not crack. So far, she has withstood a scorching summer and El Nino, and seems to be little fazed. If this is a game of chicken, it'd be a sucker's bet to place money against Julia. And that is why The Konformist honors her, congratulates them, and promises to continue to cover her story with the passion it deserves. Keep it going, Julia.
We salute you.
Sector Air Raid Warden at /RENEGADE/
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