US animal rights fanatic in Britain vows to break law
By Daniel Foggo
July 17, 2005
Animal rights extremists gathered secretly in a Kent field yesterday to hear an American activist declare: "We will break the law and destroy property until we win."
Dr Steven Best, a philosophy professor and exponent of the Animal Liberation Front, told about 200 activists at the International Animal Rights Gathering 2005: "Now communism is dead, we are the new spectre in the world. We are named as the number one terrorist threat in the US and UK. Can you believe it?"
He added: "We are not terrorists, but we are a threat. We are a threat both economically and philosophically. Our power is not in the right to vote but the power to stop production. We will break the law and destroy property until we win."
He compared the animal rights struggle to the fight against slavery. "We are abolitionists. We don't want to reform them [vivisectionist companies], we want to wipe them off the face of the earth. We will fight, and die if necessary, to free the slaves."
Despite the Government's insistence that it is tightening measures to prevent foreign extremists who support criminal and violent acts from entering Britain, Dr Best is being allowed to give such speeches unchallenged.
Dr Best, who describes himself as a "sympathiser" of both the ALF and the Earth Liberation Front, both of which are listed as terrorist groups in the United States, believes that violence is morally right if the cause is "just".
The Government, which announced on Friday that it would seek to introduce laws banning the endorsement of terrorist acts, is also sponsoring a Bill to criminalise the kind of economic sabotage carried out by the ALF.
Yet Dr Best was espousing his views yesterday with the Government's permission. Last August, the academic narrowly avoided being barred from Britain after David Blunkett, the then home secretary, sent him a letter saying he was "minded to exclude" him, drawing attention to Dr Best's history of supporting the ALF.
Dr Best, who teaches at the University of Texas in El Paso, replied that he supported the ALF, but denied that the organisation was violent.
"Because they attack the property of animal exploiters and never the exploiters themselves, I consider the ALF to be a non-violent organisation," he wrote. He was later told he would be allowed into Britain. Three other advocates of extremist action, Dr Jerry Vlasak, Pamelyn Ferdin and Rod Coronado, who all received similar letters, were barred.
A Home Office official said: "We took the view that he wasn't violent and a threat in the same way as the others."
Dr Best wrote about the decision: "I was somewhat embarrassed for not being militant enough to be considered a threat."
The International Animal Rights Gathering 2005 is being held in a private field over the weekend near Tonbridge. Those attending are being given instruction in unarmed combat and counter-surveillance, and told how to take "direct action" in the name of animal liberation.