Saturday, April 18, 2009

Making excuses for Somali pirates

Johann Hari of the Huffington Post claims we are being lied to about pirates. Far from being despicable scallywags, they are to be admired for their democratic and egalitarian ways:

Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains - and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls "one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century." They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed "quite clearly - and subversively - that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy." This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.

Similarly, the Somali pirates are but poor, honorable folk fighting against injustice:

Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We didn't act on those crimes - but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 percent of the world's oil supply, we begin to shriek about "evil." If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause - our crimes - before we send in the gun-boats to root out Somalia's criminals.

One commenter even suggests:

The pirates are totally justified in their actions, no questions asked. I don't care who they pillage or plunder, it's only for their own benefit provided that we don't start killing them like the Israeli's did with the Palestinians.

The more crewmen they hold hostage, the more ransom they collect, the happier I feel seeing that the common peasant still wields a weapon over even the most powerful of governments and corporations.

With pirates as their model, it is little wonder that Barack Obama is their hero. Kind of puts the recent tea parties in a new light.