June 02, 2010

Oil spill shows American values

Gulf oil disaster propels tribes into crisis

By Terri HansenThe worst oil leak in U.S. history has grown to 19 million gallons since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 20.

And the oil, still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is wreaking havoc with tribal lives in Louisiana.

“The smell of the oil is really bad, people describe it as smelling like you were in an engine room,” said Brenda Dardar Robichaux, principal chief of the United Houma Nation May 26 of vapors with potential toxicity.
And:The oil, washing into Louisiana’s fragile marshes and wetlands and smothering miles of shoreline is threatening the livelihoods of tribal fishermen and supporting businesses like netmakers, suppliers, and restaurants, Robichaux said.

“Right now it’s about two miles from these beaches tribal people grew up on,” said Charles Verdin of the Pointe au Chien Indian Tribe.

His community spans Terrebonne and Lafourche Parish. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration closed about 25 percent of the Gulf’s federal waters to fishing, including coastal areas in tribal locales.

“It doesn’t look good,” Verdin said. “Most of our people are fishermen and they’ve shut down most the areas we fish. This will affect families’ food supplies. That’s scary.”

Verdin said BP representatives met with their community May 25. A primary concern of tribal members was stopping the oil before it reaches burial grounds and sacred sites.

Americans behaving stupidly

What the oil spill says about our culture:

Our Epic Foolishness

By Bob HerbertIf a bank is too big to fail, it’s way too big to exist. If an oil well is too far beneath the sea to be plugged when something goes wrong, it’s too deep to be drilled in the first place.

When are we going to stop behaving so stupidly? We nearly wrecked the economy and we’re all but buried in debt. But we can’t break up the biggest banks, and we can’t raise taxes. Now we’re fouling the magnificent Gulf of Mexico and ruining entire communities along the southern Louisiana Coast.

And, by the way, we’re still fighting a futile war in Afghanistan that we’ve been fighting with nonstop futility for nearly a decade. (I’m sure the troops saddled with this thankless task were thrilled to see fans and teams demonstrating their undying support for their efforts by wearing fancy baseball caps on Memorial Day.)

For a nation that can’t stop bragging about how great and powerful it is, we’ve become shockingly helpless in the face of the many challenges confronting us. Our can-do spirit was put on hold many moons ago, and here we are now unable to defeat the Taliban, or rein in the likes of BP and the biggest banks, or stop the oil gushing furiously from the bowels of earth like a warning from Hades about the hubris and ignorance that is threatening to destroy us.
Greedy, selfish bastards

In A Great Nation Immobilized, Garrison Keillor sums up our culture in a nutshell:We are self-centered, shortsighted people, intent on comfort, averse to sacrifice.Yep, that just about says it all. We probably could find hundreds of examples for each, but I'll identify just a few:

  • Self-centered: Hence our ignorance of foreign countries and cultures, including our own non-Western people, the Indians.

    Historical antecedent: Europeans invaded the continent with little or no thought of the people already living here.

  • Shortsighted: Hence our unwillingness to adopt energy policies that would reduce our dependence on oil and slow climate change.

    Historical antecedent: Americans thought nothing of cutting down most of the forests, killing most of the buffalo, etc.

  • Intent on comfort: Hence our ongoing desire to have the biggest house, the flashiest car, the nicest clothes, the most bling, etc.

    Historical antecedent: Slaveowners such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson depended on and refused to free their human chattel.

  • Averse to sacrifice: Hence our waging two wars without reviving the draft or raising taxes to pay for them.

    Historical antecedent: Indian treaties required Americans to live within boundaries, so the greedy, selfish bastards broke them. All of them.

    For more on the subject, see Ecological Indian Talk, Hercules vs. Coyote:  Native and Euro-American Beliefs, and America's Cultural Mindset.

    Below:  "Give us a handout! We want free (Indian) land! We're Americans, so everything belongs to us!"