Anti-African Propaganda Follows Take down of Pirates
by Chris Stevenson
It took several days and some Special Forces clout to take down the Somali pirates, and rescue Captain Richard Phillips, but no sooner had this took place than the fast fingers of the white American press dove in to discredit the pirates. Yahoo News ran a streamer titled: “Somali Pirates are no Swashbucklers.” This directed me to some commentary called “Somali Pirates a Far Cry from Buccaneers of Old,” by Associated Pira… errr Press writer Todd Pittman. Upon seeing that I immediately wondered what brought that on. Is Pittman just trying to give give these pirates a posthumous demotion in rank? Is this an attempt to trivialize them as simple gang-bangers? Against specifically whom is Pittman comparing the hijackers of the mighty cargo vessel Maersk Alabama to?
Not surprisingly Pittman only knows to compare these actual pirates from Somalia to the pirates of Hollywood (white pirates), most notably Blackbeard and Johnny Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribean.” Nowhere does he reveal that most real Caribbean pirates throughout history are black. Instead, in the wake of the killing 3 out of 4 of them on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, they also are the targets for character assassination. “Just fishermen paid to act as pirates by warlords and armed gangs who have taken over a lawless state,” shot Pittman. In truth isn’t that how most non-Hollywood pirates have operated? It’s not as if the Bloods and the Crips are outsourcing some of their work, he cites congressional figures having these pirates raking in $30-80 million in ’08 through the seizure of 42 ships and then wants the reader to dismiss any notion of them being pirates because in his words, they didn’t overtake “treasure-laden islands.” Are you kidding me? $30 million sounds pretty successful pirating to me. How much did “Fortune” have Blackbeard earning back in the 1700’s?
African Pirates have been in the news for about a year now, but it’s probably the world’s 2nd or 3rd oldest profession. This is just one of the very few times the US decided to intervene and with President Obama’s approval the Navy handled it very cautiously (no Blackwater, no international incident, no problem). I’m not siding with the pirates, I really don’t know that much about them. But I think American forces were surprised these black seamen didn’t just buckle under and surrender at the mere sight of their technological might and numbers. What I’m sensing is an underlining rush by the news to undermine these black seamen who would dare to hold a branch of the US military to a five-day standoff. How dare they command the world’s attention by capturing an American ship, hold it’s captain hostage and face down the Navy.
But isn’t that what we were taught that pirates do? At least in theaters. These particular ones just so happen to be black. This in itself is nothing new unless you strictly subscribe to Hollywood for all historical information. There were black pirates right up to the American slavery era. In 1717 60% of Blackbeard’s pirates were black (literally 60 out of 100), in 1718 5 of 14 were black. Among countless black pirates during this period there was a tall African Chief called Black Caesar. Considered extremely smart and very strong, once he boarded a vessel that turned out to be a slave ship. Black Caesar led a mutiny but lost and was captured. During his detainment he refused to eat or drink until a white sailor befriended and plotted with him to strike back. After a ship wreck Black Caesar and the sailor escaped and went on to attack and plunder other passing ships. The story goes that Caesar killed his white sailor friend over a woman and joined Blackbeard in the early 1700’s.
Over the next few days (maybe weeks) expect more of what is essentially black pirate downplay and smear tactics unrelated to the events of the Maersk Alabama. That’s right Somali pirates will learn just what Obama is learning. This take-down and rescue comes almost exactly a year (4/13/08) after the French captured Somali pirates who hijacked the LePonant. This has to make these brothers consider whether Easter week is a good time to hunt booty. Not a bad showing for Obama however, a test like this is just the beginning.
Chris Stevenson is a syndicated columnist and writes for the Buffalo Challenger. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org