By Captain Paul Watson
I have discovered that I have been enlisted by Japan into a unique new club recently. It is one that I take considerable pride in being a member.
I was unaware that I had been enlisted until a few weeks ago when I was about to board a plane in Vancouver for San Diego. I was just clearing Customs and had handed my American passport to the Homeland Security officer at the U.S. checkpoint in Vancouver airport.
He ran the passport through the little electronic passport gizmo thing-a-ma-jig that reads that little electronic strip and suddenly his eyes opened wide and he began to scroll down the screen of his computer.
"Sir," he said, looking at me seriously, "please come with me." He escorted me into a side room and told me to take a seat on a bench.
There were two other officers standing around and one of them recognized me and said he was a fan of Whales Wars and could I give him an autograph for his son. I signed a business card and gave him a pirate patch for his boy.
After a half hour of sitting on the seat, I was becoming concerned that I would miss my flight so I asked how much longer.
"It won't be much longer sir."
A half-hour later, and with my plane about to depart in 10 minutes, I got up and walked over to the desk. "Excuse me but do you think, I'll be able to make my flight?"
"When does it depart sir?" he asked.
"In ten minutes," I answered.
He was friendly enough and said he would check in the back room to see what was holding me up.
Ten minutes later, with my plane now pulling away from the gate, another officer came out from the back and told me that I would need to be patient and they were trying to get me on my way as quickly as they could.
"So what's the problem?" I asked.
"We're not at liberty to say sir."
"I see," I responded and then added, "Tell me, did the Japanese make some sort of complaint about me?"
The officer hesitated and then said, "It appears that they have. Japan has suggested that you are a person of interest and a suspected terrorist."
"Well, damn, that's a serious charge," I said, expecting to be hauled off to Guantanamo in chains within moments. "What does that mean?"
The officer calmly said, "It doesn't mean very much at all, except we have to go through the proper protocols after which you will be free to go."
"Oh, well that explains why on the last few times I re-entered the United States I was met by a Homeland Security officer at the gate and escorted to the head of the line where my luggage was checked and I was then free to go," I said.
I had not complained. They all apparently knew who I was, in every case they commented about the Animal Planet show and wished me luck. I was beginning to think that everyone who has a TV show gets treated this way, sort of a VIP go to the head of the line privilege.
But the truth had just been revealed and with a shudder down my spine I realized that I was now a member of a new species of terrorist, a gentler, kinder sort of terrorist.
I was not upset. In fact I was overjoyed to find out that I was not alone. Another international terrorist whose name strikes fear into the hearts of every Chinese communist bureaucrat was his Holiness the Dalai Lama.
This gentle, non-violent, wise and honorable man is now, according to the Chinese government, an international terrorist. And if the Dalai Lama can be defined as a terrorist then I'm proud to be a terrorist also.
With that knowledge, I took a great measure of pride in knowing that I share this distinction with the Dalai Lama. I was now an official international terrorist for saving the lives of whales. I had never hurt a soul nor had I been convicted of a crime. I had not a single warrant out for my arrest yet I had jumped to the head of the class of international threats to the status quo. I had dared to challenge the illegal actions of the outlaw Japanese whaling fleet and for that the Japanese government was intent upon punishing me. They had not charged me with any crime yet they thought they would make life miserable for me by declaring me a terrorist.
So they had the satisfaction of making me miss a plane and so with my wrist smartly slapped I went on my way. The Homeland Security officer told me that I would only be held at border points inside foreign countries like Canada and that I would continue to get the VIP escort service at airports inside the country.
The Japanese did succeed in making me miss my plane, but I was not in a great hurry and United Airlines bumped me up to first class on the next flight so the flight was actually more comfortable.
I then began to think of some other outstanding gentle terrorists who could be eligible for our distinctive League. There is of course Nelson Mandela who was once denounced as an international terrorist by the former apartheid regime. Stephen Biko was a gentle South African terrorist, and of course the British had denounced Mahatma Gandhi as a terrorist. The British had also labeled Patrick Henry, and George Washington, as well as Thomas Jefferson and all the participants of the Boston Tea Party as terrorists.
Captain John Paul Jones and John Lafitte, both American heroes, were pirates as were Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, who were also consort of the Queen of England.
What an extraordinary membership!
Canadian author Farley Mowat was denied entry to the United States because he wrote a book about Siberia. Former Ontario Premier Bob Rae was just this week denied entry to Sri Lanka and declared a "threat to national security" for publicly criticizing the government's treatment of the Tamils.
Last year, Newfoundland premier Danny Williams publicly accused me of being a terrorist and said I would be denied entry to Newfoundland. I responded on national television that Danny Williams should either arrest me or he should shut up and if for some ungodly reason I had a hankering to go to Newfoundland, I would do so and as a Canadian citizen he had no legal right to prevent me.
My "crime" by the way was criticizing the slaughter of 325,000 baby seals and in Canada taking a picture or even witnessing the killing of a seal is a crime punishable by up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The Center for Consumer Freedom, a right wing website funded by the tobacco industry lists Pamela Anderson, Ted Turner, and Martin Sheen as terrorists.
So what does it take to be a member of the League of Extraordinarily Gentle Terrorists?
First, one must have an unblemished record of never having killed or injured anyone. Nor can one have kidnapped anyone. Having a record clean of felonies is also a great. Then all it takes is an accusation of terrorism from some government or major industrial, corporate, or institutional organization. This usually follows after saying or doing something that embarrasses or angers aforementioned government or corporation.
It really does not matter if one is saving whales, fighting for democracy, or running for President of the United States. All the opposition has to do is make an accusation of terrorism and then Bob's your uncle and you're now a member of our prestigious club of extraordinary gentle terrorists.
Last year Barack Obama was called a terrorist by his Republican opposition. That's now Mr. President terrorist Obama, thank-you very much. It appears that being a member of the League of Extraordinarily Gentle Terrorists does not exclude the possibility of being elected President as President Obama, President Mandela, and President Lech Walesa have already demonstrated.
Some backwater mama with a gun and a fetish for killing large mammals simply denounces a respectable Presidential candidate with the curse of "terrorism" and suddenly the viral message is spread across the internet to every right wing conspiracy theory wing nut looking for some excuse to denounce a man they resent for being black and smarter than themselves.
That's another thing we gentle terrorists have in common. We seem to always be denounced by fundamentalist hysterical hypocrites of questionable morals and lower than average intelligence.
Barack Obama had his Sarah Palin, Dr. Martin Luther King had his J. Edgar Hoover, the Dalai Lama has the Chinese communists and I have the Japanese pseudo-scientists.
In Peru, President Alan Garcia has conveniently dismissed the Indian's protesting of deforestation by denouncing them as terrorists. He has publicly called them evil and equated them with al-Qaeda. This now allows him to give extra powers to the police to allow them to brutally suppress non-violent aboriginal peoples who are being displaced from their homes. Thus accusations of terrorism are being used to justify state terrorism against dissidents.
In Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi is a bona-fide gentle terrorist for her efforts to bring democracy to a nation where the leaders are petrified of "vicious" terrorists who have been mailing women's panties to them. Apparently the leadership is superstitious about women's undergarments and believes that exposure to such intimate clothing drains their already questionable masculinity. So in Myanmar the very act of mailing a pair of women's panties to a member of the government is considered an act of terrorism.
Last week, his Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the Netherlands and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende refused to see him for fear of offending the Chinese government. The 73-year-old exiled Buddhist spiritual leader said he was unfazed by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's decision not to receive him.
"No problem, I have no political agenda," he shrugged. Asked whether he thought Balkenende had been influenced by Chinese pressure, he responded: "Ask him," and burst out laughing.
We gentle terrorists have what other terrorists do not - a sense of humor and an appreciation for the absurd like this statement from the Chinese government:
"Any irresponsible moves by any country over this issue (China's warning for nations not to receive the Dalai Lama) will constitute gross intervention in the internal affairs of China and will severely damage relations with those countries," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing.
This statement from China makes George Orwell seem like he was writing children's stories. Of course we must remember that the Chinese are "good" communists as opposed to the "bad" communists of Cuba. The "good category" means that the nation has a cheap labor market and a billion consumers, whereas little Cuba just has organic farming and a few cigars.
The Chinese are obstructing the Dalai Lama at every opportunity. This week I received a telephone call from Rob Stewart, the producer and director of the documentary film Sharkwater that featured Sea Shepherd and myself. Rob asked me to remove all reference to the Dalai Lama as a supporter of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. He asked that I remove his picture from our website.
Why? Because the government of China will not allow Sharkwater to be shown at Chinese Film Festivals or to be aired on Chinese television unless Sea Shepherd distances ourselves from the Dalai Lama.
"It's a choice between reaching 100 million plus Chinese with a message to stop eating shark fin soup or featuring the Dalai Lama as a supporter," Rob said.
Rob of course has a point. It is important to reach the Chinese public. But is it worth betraying a loyal supporter like the Dalai Lama? I don't think so, especially considering that the Dalai Lama and I are both in the same League of Extraordinarily Gentle Terrorists.
This would be like betraying a bro' and Tenzin Gyatso is a fellow gentle terrorist and thus although I hated to disappoint Rob Stewart, I had to back His Holiness, my very own homey and comrade without arms.
Besides, the Chinese also ordered any reference to the Chinese actually eating shark fin soup censored from the film. The end result would most likely be a film blaming the Dalai Lama for the demise of the shark.
This word terrorist has pretty much lost any meaning and most people find it both ridiculous and insulting to put the Dalai Lama and Osama bin Laden in the same category. The name is tossed about like a petty insult and used in manipulative ways for self-interested parties.
Even Greenpeace has referred to me as a terrorist, and once when I responded to Greenpeace's accusation that I was an eco-terrorist, I laughed it off with, "what do you expect from the Avon ladies of the environmental movement." They've never forgiven me for saying that although they have never apologized for calling me the T word.
It's a funny world where vegetarians who have never injured a single person can be denounced as terrorists by nations that have committed gross and horrific acts of genocide and habitat destruction. It's killers flashing peace symbols as they denounce the "viciousness" of writers, poets, philosophers and teachers.
In a world where the Dalai Lama is a "terrorist" then there is only one possible thing to be ourselves.
And so I stand with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in the noble memory of Gandhi and King, and in respect for gentle terrorists around the world from Nelson Mandela to Aung San Suu Kyi.
For in the end, it will be the pirates that bring down the pirates, the outlaws that will uphold the law and the gentle terrorists that will prevail over the brutal terrorism of nation states, corporations and organized crime.
For when you think of it, the word "Terra" means the earth and "istic" can mean having the tendency to be with, or of the Earth and with the word "ism" it could mean "to be of the Earth." The actual root word of Terrorism of course is the Latin "Terrere". This means "to frighten." We however can be called "terraists" and we are "terraistic" in the pursuit of "terraism."
So, in reality we are the League of Extraordinarily Gentle People of the Earth.
Words are amazing and if these words can be manipulated to turn gentle people into terrorists than a simple linguistic alchemy can turn it around again from the negative to the positive making "terraists" out of "terrorists."
And thus we stand as the League of Extraordinarily Gentle Terrorists upholding truth, justice and the humanitarian way.