Dr. Steven Best, an outspoken advocate of militant animal rights activism in the U.S., has been banned from entering Britain.
Best, a philosophy professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, was reportedly informed by the British Home Office in August that he will not be allowed to enter the country to speak at an animal rights demonstration in Burton.
The decision to ban Best was made after the British government announced that it will tighten measures to prevent foreign extremists who support criminal and violent acts from entering Britain.
Before being banned, Best, co-founder of the Animal Liberation Press Office, addressed animal rights activists at the International Animal Rights Gathering 2005 in Kent, England, in July. Best told the gathering, “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.”
Best has written many articles in defense of militant animal rights activism and regularly speaks at animal rights conferences; at a Fresno State University conference in February 2003, on “Revolutionary Environmentalism: A Dialogue Between Activists and Academics,” Best said, “Throughout history, property destruction and civil protest has been part of our heritage. If you have a problem with that, you have a problem with the Boston Tea Party.”
Last year, David Blunkett, the then British Home Secretary, reportedly sent Best a letter saying that he was considering banning Best from entering Britain because of his support for the Animal Liberation Front, one of the most active ecoterrorist movements in the U.S. and Britain.
According to a British newspaper, Best wrote back denying that the organization was violent. “Because they attack the property of animal exploiters and never the exploiters themselves, I consider the ALF to be a non-violent organization,” he wrote. While he was not banned at the time, three other militant animal rights advocates, Dr. Jerry Vlasak, Pamelyn Ferdin and Rod Coronado, all reportedly received letters informing them that they were barred from entering Britain.
Vlasak, who co-founded the Animal Liberation Press Office with Best, was banned on the grounds that his “presence here would not be conducive to the public good,” according to a Home Office spokeswoman. In 2003, Vlasak told an audience at an animal rights conference in Los Angles that the assassination of scientists working in biomedical research would save millions of animals’ lives and that “I think violence is part of the struggle against oppression. If something bad happens to these people [animal researchers], it will discourage others. It is inevitable that violence will be used in the struggle and that it will be effective.”
ALF’s origins trace back to England, which, like the U.S., has experienced terrorist activity in the name of animal rights for many years.