In 1995, I was an employee of the California Forestry Association in Sacramento, California. On April 25, 1995, my co-worker Gilbert Murray opened a package addressed to William Dennison, the previous executive of the organization. The package contained a bomb sent by Ted Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber.
Kaczynski’s bomb was designed to inflict maximum pain and suffering on anyone who might be near the package when it exploded, and that’s what happened to my co-worker that day when a domestic terrorist warped by an ecoterrorist ideology took his life.
Gilbert Murray is described in news articles as a timber executive, but Gil was so much more. A month before he was killed, Gil had used one of his vacation weeks to remove the texture on his kitchen walls so that his wife could have the wallpaper she wanted. He coached Little League; and when my children came to work with me, he would take them to lunch and talk about what their future plans were. I tell you these things because I want you to know that Gil was not just a “forester.” He was a man who loved his family, his community, his profession, and the forests.
In choosing his terror targets, Kaczynski reportedly worked off of a list that he found in a radical environmental newsletter called “Live Wild or Die,” which advertised in the Earth First! newsletter that Tracy Stone-Manning, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), edited when she was a graduate student at the University of Montana and one of the leaders of the radical Earth First! group in Missoula.
Kaczynski is also on the record stating that Earth First! influenced him. He even described himself as an Earth First! “satellite.” He is wholly responsible for the terror he created, but he certainly found like-minded individual’s among the group that published a list of people to kill to save the environment, the newsletter that ran advertisements for that group, and the radical Earth First!ers who also advocated violence.
Having read the testimony and news articles about Tracy Stone-Manning, I was compelled to write this because I think there are questions she has not been asked during her Senate confirmation hearing.
In her master’s thesis, Stone-Manning argued in favor of population control, claiming that human beings – particularly children – are an “environmental hazard” that should be sacrificed for the betterment of the environment. Does she still believe this?
If confirmed by the Senate, Stone-Manning will be in charge of vast swaths of forest land – a great deal of which has been burnt by fires and now needs to have that material removed so it is not a danger to the community she serves. Does she still hold the belief that people must be sacrificed for the environment? Will she take those deep-rooted beliefs and hire people that feel the same way?
This year the west is suffering one of the worst fire years in history, in addition to a decade of drought. The people displaced by these fires need to know that the person leading the organization tasked with controlling fire and land management understands that people are a part of the environment. We deserve to have someone who can be trusted with that monumental task. Does Stone-Manning still agree with the article that her husband wrote–which she shared on social media–arguing that firefighters should let some homes threatened by wildfires burn because they were “irresponsibly” built?
After years of suffering from PTSD and trying to understand how someone could be so evil, I have forgiven Ted Kaczynski. I would like to do the same for Tracy Stone-Manning, but she has yet to admit that her anger and hatred in the past have any bearing on the job she is seeking.
I edit a small newsletter. I am careful that my words inform and educate because I understand the power of words and their ability to move people. Does Tracy Stone-Manning now understand that what she published might have had a role in the death of a human being? Is she sorry for being involved with an organization and newsletter that advocated violence to save the environment?
The lives of Gil Murray’s family were changed forever, as were the people who worked with Gil. The impacts of the explosion that killed Gil still ripple through the lives of those who knew him. We all deserve answers to these questions.
Nadine Bailey has spent the last three decades advocating for rural communities. She is currently the COO of Family Water Alliance, Inc. in Colusa, California.