During the 1990s Reign of Terror in the Pacific Northwest, it was mostly alternative media that shined a light on the connections between land speculators and anti-Indian, domestic terrorists in northern Puget Sound. Mainstream media, as usual, did its best to avert its attention, or to divert public attention from this disturbing development.
In Whatcom County, where the Bellingham Herald enjoyed a media monopoly, public exposure of direct connections between real estate developers and property-rights militias fell on the shoulders of a handful of volunteer researchers, writers and publishers. People like Paul de Armond at Public Good Project, John Servais at Northwest Citizen, Gene Metrick at The Western Front, and the three women who started Whatcom Watch–Rebecca Meloy, Lorena Havens, and Sherilyn Wells.
Today, as Whatcom County is under threat from the mega-developers behind SSA Marine’s proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, a dearth of independent media once again leaves the community vulnerable. With only Whatcom Watch reporting on the ties between organized anti-Indian racism and the coal terminal developers, the strategy chosen by SSAs public relations consultant Craig Cole is intimidation.
Taking a page out of the Skip Richards domestic terrorist’s handbook, Cole has determined that the only two things he needs to know in politics are, “who to threaten, and who to bribe.” Using advertising funds (bribes) to suppress any thoughts of exposing SSAs anti-Indian campaign at the Herald and the Cascadia Weekly, SSAs spokesman Cole has now intimidated Whatcom Watch using a threat of lawsuit, forcing Watch editor Richard Jehn to resign in fear.
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) are an effective tool for criminal corporations like SSA to keep democracy down. Threatening community newspapers like Whatcom Watch is a textbook case of how they work. Reporters Without Borders correspondent Jennifer Karchmer discusses the Freedom of the Press First Amendment issues involved in Cole’s baseless accusations.
Given that The Western Front faculty adviser is now Jack Keith — former hatchet man for the Heralds publisher J.C. Hickman when the Herald actively engaged in covering up the corporate crimes exposed in Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound — and that Tim Johnson at Cascadia Weekly has become an agent provocateur at the behest of Cole, that leaves Whatcom Watch and Northwest Citizen as the only sources of independent news.
The Wise Use Movement, industrial-backed terrorism in the United States — the third leg of the troika comprising Fascism in America — is intimately connected to the Anti-Indian Movement. Threatening environmentalists, tribes, and independent media is its forte. As SSA Marine tightens its stranglehold on Whatcom media, its corruption of Whatcom politics will have an open field ahead.
With the Tea Party Terrorists in the wings, Cole has opened a Pandora’s box that could once again expose Whatcom County to violence and pandemonium. Unless citizens rally against SSAs threats, The Politics of Land and Bigotry will return to northern Puget Sound with a vengeance.
And that won’t be a pretty sight.