До Свидания #4

The Black Tuesday Gulf Massacre


Amitakh Stanford

21st June 2010

On 20th April this year, a frightening ecological disaster was launched at the Gulf of Mexico and all its bordering shores, especially the southern states of the United States. A BP (British Petroleum) deep-water oil drilling rig exploded, killing 11 workers, but that was only the beginning of the death toll. This disaster has become known euphemistically as the Gulf oil spill, or the oil spill, but it should be given a more appropriate name, such as: The Black Tuesday Gulf Massacre.

The Gulf Massacre has brought untold death, disease, misery and injury to the sea life that calls these waters home. It is also destroying those livelihoods that depend on the sea. The once beautiful Gulf and its shores is now a toxic, dying sea. For more than two months, millions – possibly billions – of litres of oil have gushed unabated into the ocean, suffocating the life beneath the water’s surface. This is mass murder! And, as yet, there is no end in sight!

From an oil spill that is recognized as the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced, it has also been turned into a political battlefield within America, and, especially, between America and Great Britain. Ironically, the British press launched its unjustified and unjustifiable patriotic defence of British Petroleum's recklessness on the Queen's Birthday, which also happens to be Flag Day in America. This is bound to unfurl a lot of Union Jacks and Old Glories.

British Petroleum is the name by which BP is known all around the world, regardless of its current abbreviated trading name of BP. British Petroleum is based in London. Recently, the British press has dared to chastise United States President, Barack Obama, for supposedly using anti-British rhetoric in referring to the company responsible for the Gulf Massacre as “British Petroleum,” instead of “BP”. In The Daily Mail is found inexcusable anti-American rhetoric accusing President Obama of “using the disaster to attack not just BP but Britain, pointedly calling the company British Petroleum”. The article claims that “so fierce was Obama's onslaught” that he “might end up putting BP out of business altogether.”

The anti-American article, which is not unlike other articles flying through the British press, goes on to refer to America as “imperialist,” which, in all fairness, the United States has become. However, it needs be said that it has learned this miserable trait from Britain. The Daily Mail avers that Obama's “knee-jerk hostility towards 'colonialist' Britain or 'multinational' BP, while taking the side of dictators and tyrants in the Third World, is deeply damaging to this country, as indeed it is to his own.” The article concludes with: “It is the gushing geyser of Obama's anti-British and anti-western animus which now so urgently needs to be capped, in order to protect the shores of liberty itself.” It would be more appropriate for British Petroleum to cap the oil gusher and apologize and accept due retribution for its gross negligence, and for Britain to take an unbiased look at what she has done, and continues to do, in violation of liberty around the world.

The article does not apologize for the Gulf Massacre. Instead, it plays it down, reducing what is millions of gallons of oil spill into only “tens of thousands of gallons”. Britain’s long-harboured hatred for America is revealed by the author's inexcusable and offensive racial slur, “that Obama, who appears to labour under a resentment of Britain over its behaviour in his father's homeland, Kenya, seems to have a personal problem with Britain.” This in an undisguised, bigoted slur, which is offensive to people of decent moral fibre around the world. Were Obama white, would the same attack be hurled at him and America? Many people are disgusted that The Daily Mail would publish such venom and hatred, especially given Britain's racist past policies, many of which continue today.

The anti-American British rhetoric makes almost no mention of the ongoing pain, anguish, suffering and losses endured by the families of the 11 workers killed in the oil spill disaster. The author and newspaper do not seem to care about the immense suffering and loss of sea life that British Petroleum has brought about, nor the extensive damage and ongoing problems that will devastate the affected region for many, many years to come. Instead of acknowledging fault, they have seen fit to launch an offensive against those whom they have already wronged, replacing what should be remorse with a heavily skewed, racist diatribe.

The British media have also severely criticised Obama for likening the oil spill disaster to the September 11 bombings of the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon. He was apt in his comparison to 9/11 because of the comparable fallout from the two events, and their impact on so many lives. It is accepted that 9/11 was a terrorist attack, regardless of what the truth behind it might be. How can we be so certain that the Gulf Massacre was not a deliberate act of war against America and the entire Gulf of Mexico? One thing is certain, that Obama is intelligent and sensitive enough that he would not have made the reference loosely.

The tragedy not only affects the United States; it greatly impacts Mexico, Cuba and every country that has Gulf shores. The very extent and horror of the devastation has broken many hearts around the world. The aftermath continues. The ecology is destroyed. Sea life is suffering. It has destroyed so much. It will destroy so much more!

The families of those who perished on September 11 suffered the pain and anguish of losing their loved ones. When Obama compared the 4/20 Gulf Massacre to the 9/11 Massacre, he was demonstrating the devastating impact the oil spill has had. Obama must be feeling the anguish and the sadness of the 4/20 Massacre, like many of us. His comparison of the two events is justified and justifiable!

The Texas Member of Congress, Representative Joe Barton, disturbed and shocked many by his ridiculous and insensitive apology to the CEO of British Petroleum. In the apology, Barton classified President Obama's efforts to seek just compensation for the victims of the Gulf Massacre as an unwarranted “shakedown”. His stance and apology is as offensive and insensitive as asking the residents of Gaza to apologize to Israel for being under siege, or asking the Jewish people to apologize to the Nazis for the holocaust! It is absurdly stupid!

The people of New Orleans have pulled a recent advertising campaign perceived by some as being anti-British, because many Brits are too thin-skinned to take a joke, perhaps in this case because it cuts too close to the truth. The Big Easy wanted to apply humour in publishing with the phrase, “This isn't the first time New Orleans has survived the British”, alongside a photograph of Jackson Square. The Square was named after President Andrew Jackson in recognition of his trouncing of the British in the Battle of New Orleans.

This posting should not be misconstrued as a case for or against either America or Britain. It is a case of seeing things as they are without muddying the issues. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico needs urgent resolution – the gusher must be stopped and the Gulf must be cleaned up! The British use of anti-American rhetoric is not helpful or warranted, and is in danger of opening old wounds that are not completely healed.

For instance, many could ask whether Britain has apologized for her tyrants forcing American colonists to revolt? Have the British apologized for the War of 1812? Has Britain apologized for going to war to force opium upon the Chinese in the nineteenth century? Has Britain apologized for forcing its way into India and massacring the indigenes into subjugation? Have the British apologized for massacring Australian Aborigines? Indeed, the British have much to apologize for, much that is unjustified and unjustifiable!

© 2010 Amitakh Stanford