Homeland security

Melissa Stagnaro

While I was in Albany at the beginning of the week, I had a chance to sit in on a panel discussion involving New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker.

As the session was part of the New York Farm Bureau’s annual lobbying day, I wasn’t surprised most of the topics discussed were related to farming in one form or fashion. But one thing Commissioner Hooker talked about did surprise me.

Our nation’s food supply, in which our state’s largest industry of course plays a part, is considered a potential terrorist target. Which means that Hooker, therefor, is involved in Homeland Security discussions. It’s something that is constantly on his mind, he told us.

According to the commissioner, he and the governor had met with Homeland Security just that morning, which happened to be Tuesday. The Feds were talking about the top three threats our country faces.

Number one was, of course, al-Qaida. But I never would have guessed the next two in a million years. You see, Homeland Security doesn’t rank any other international terror group in the top three. The next two spots are held by domestic terrorists.

I immediately thought of homegrown militia groups stockpiling weapons in the Oregon woods, and racist white supremacists, but I was wrong. No, it is radical anti-abortionists and animal rights extremists that rank second and third on the watch list.

At first I found it hard to believe that these types of groups could pose such a threat. Shouldn’t groups concerned about the well-being of unborn children and defenseless animals be opposed to violence? Wouldn’t murder and mayhem be counterproductive to their cause(s)? It just sounded crazy.

But after a little reflection, I could understand at least to a certain extent. I remember the bombings that used to occur at abortion clinics, and doctors who were murdered for performing the procedure. Apparently, with Democrats holding the majority in Washington as well as many state capitals, there is a fear that radical right-to-lifers will return to that level of violence.

I’m not sure what the expectations are for the animal rights activists. There always seems to be a radical fringe group doing something crazy.

While I firmly believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, I’ll admit that I started to get a little nervous when I began to see the anti-abortion issue popping up on our online version of 30 Seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I realize it isn’t all people who oppose abortion or advocate for animal rights that are a threat to our national security. (The real threats, of course, are the extremists. Those are the ones who will stop at nothing to further their cause.)

I’ll have to ask you to excuse me if I get a little jumpy over these topics for a while. Because just the fact that we could have people living within our borders that would rank that high up on Homeland Security’s list, scares the heck out of me!