740: Christopher Ketcham, part 3: Inside the mind of an “ecoterrorist”

January 6, 2024 by Joshua
in Podcast

I was reading Harper’s magazine and Christopher’s story was on the cover: Inside the mind of an “ecoterrorist”! It begins

In the summer of 2016, a fifty-seven-year-old Texan named Stephen McRae drove east out of the rainforests of Oregon and into the vast expanse of the Great Basin. His plan was to commit sabotage. First up was a coal-burning power plant near Carlin, Nevada, a 242-megawatt facility owned by the Newmont Corporation that existed to service two nearby gold mines, also owned by Newmont.

McRae hated coal-burning power plants with a passion, but even more he hated gold mines. Gold represented most everything frivolous, wanton, and destructive. Love of gold was for McRae a form of civilizational degeneracy, because of the pollution associated with it, the catastrophic disruption of soil, the poisoning of water and air, and because it set people against one another.

Gold mines needed to die, McRae told me years later, around a campfire in the wilderness, when he felt that he could finally share his story. “And the power plant too. I wanted it all to go down. But it was only that summer I got up the balls to finally do it.”

We talked about his doing the story, speaking with McRae, developing a relationship with him that involved his girlfriend and other people he knew. What’s it like to hear your voice in an FBI file? Also, the media’s and public’s taste for such stories.

Whatever your views on how to respond, if you understand or support people like McRae or consider them counterproductive (he knows he’s a criminal), you’ll rarely find such inside relationships with such remarkable people elsewhere.

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