In the modern world, most reasonable people tend to choose lifestyles and opinions based in temperance--you know, tolerance, equality, and all that. You do, however, have your exceptions: For instance, the religious fanatics like the Branch Davidians, who exiled themselves from society and holed up in their compound near Waco with automatic weapons, waiting for the Apocalypse. Then consider the German neo-Nazis who lament Adolf Hitler's defeat in World War II and still beat up Jews and foreigners with a frightening regularity. And then there's Afghanistan, where the Taliban militia rules to the letter of the law, to the detriment of Afghan women, who are forced to relinquish whatever slight gains they've achieved over roughly the past 1400 years. In their case, it's not a modern world at all. To a lesser degree--well, maybe not--we have Earth Crisis, a band based almost exclusively on its members' strict, straight-edged and vegan beliefs. Essentially, they forbid themselves from consuming drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, as well as any animal product (pretty much everything besides soy and tofu). They also do not wear any animal products or engage in promiscuous sex or do anything else that might be considered fun or enjoyable. The idea is admirable; "don't do anything that harms the body" is a pretty good rule of thumb for anyone. However, the lyrics to Earth Crisis songs (including the ones on this year's Slither) and the ideas put forth by singer Karl Buechner in interviews can be quite alarming, especially considering they are probably the most successful straight-edged hardcore band and direct role models for a large number of kids. Although almost all straight-edgers are non-violent people, just looking for a way to lead their lives in a positive manner, the most fanatical devotees have been linked to violence in places such as Salt Lake City, where they are actually recognized as a criminal gang. The last thing these fanatics need is someone encouraging them.
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Which brings us to the main issue at hand. Earth Crisis' ideas and behavior are not that far from conquistadors forcing Christianity upon millions of Native Americans: They believe theirs is the one true faith--the only way to live, when you get right down to it. In his 'zine Retrogression, David Grenier explains the do-or-die mentality of Earth Crisis: "They try to see the world as black and white, good and evil. Innocent life, and by contrast 'guilty' life. It seems that non-human animals and unborn humans are innocent, everyone else is guilty, and they have set themselves up as innocence's valiant protectors." Anyone who stands in their way of achieving perfect environmental order is a roadblock and deserving of no fate easier than death or conversion to their way of thinking. Does this sound a little frightening to anyone else? Grenier later concludes, "All genocide has taken place because oppressor believed that there is only one truth. Thankfully, Earth Crisis and their followers do not have that kind of power." If that sounds a little harsh, consider the following statement Buechner made in the 'zine Moo Cow about the issue of Native Americans fulfilling a part of their cultural heritage by hunting and fishing: "Indigenous people don't have the right to kill animals, no matter what their pathetic reasoning states." Leave it to a white, middle-class male to trash and disregard indigenous peoples and their many-thousand-year-old cultures with pamphletary rhetoric. OK, this may sound like a ridiculous jeremiad, and Earth Crisis' Galaxy Club date probably won't be a setting for the coming of the New World Order. But it is important to note that fanaticism at a grassroots level is almost always a precursor to full-scale national terror. You have been warned.