Apr 14, 2009

Rooting for the under (scurvy) dog

So there's been a lot of piracy in the news these days. No, not the kind that the RIAA and the MPAA give a damn about - those oh-so-crazy Somalian pirates recently came into the spotlight when they held a US Navy captain hostage recently. While I don't condone the actions of these pirates, I do sympathize with them.

Yes, you heard me correctly, I sympathize with them. Also, I fiercely love my country and was very happy when Cpt. Richard Philips was returned safely (though regrettably only by means of lethal force). I don't think these two ideas are mutually exclusive.

Today's pirates, despite what culture has raised us to believe, aren't eye patch-wearing swashbucklers. They aren't Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom types roaming the high-seas for adventure and lost treasure. They are people who do bad things like take hostages, hold ransoms, steal, and murder. And for the record, these are despicable acts that, again, I don't condone.

But, you see, I believe people are generally good. I sincerely believe that no one takes up the profession of "pirate" in times of peace and prosperity. They do it because they are forced to, or at least feel that there are no other alternatives.

So why are Somalians taking to piracy? Well, turns out the developed world's taking advantage of them. According to wikipedia, the tsunami of 2005 had kicked up a quite a bit of nuclear waste that was being dumped in Somalian waters, causing a lot of Somalians to get sick. Oh, and fishing ships are have been hauling off a lot fish that are causing other Somalians to starve. So they're being both poisoned and having food taken off their plates. It's not difficult to understand why they'd be a little hostile to foreign ships.

I can't help but wonder if the anger and frustrations Somalians today feel is the same kind the British colonial settlers, my country's forefathers, felt when they got all uppity about that "taxation without representation" thing. They fought back. They waged war chock full of guerrilla tactics, not unlike the Somalian pirates' methods, to eventually get the British off their backs and establish The United States of America.

Why does history generally write us a free pass on this while we currently take a hard stance against Somalian piracy? Because our tactics were land-based? Because we were successful?

From what I can tell, these pirates are defending themselves and their country. And nothing more. How is that a bad thing?

I don't entirely know why I feel compelled to write about this. I guess I have a soft spot for the underdog.

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