Friday, May 21, 2010

Who needs terrorists?

Hot and sunny today, summery. I went out this morning for a walk at the conservation area, sun already blazing at 7:30. Stopped at the overlook and observed a hawk gliding over the wetlands and river, the very image of peace and contentment. The wetlands may not even be so pristine but at least they are enough so for the hawk to enjoy itself. Then I thought of the environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, the Keys, and ultimately many places else, both deep sea and coastal areas. I feel very bad for all the diverse species of wildlife that will not be able to cope with the degradation, won't know what hit them, won't be able to escape or adapt, their ability to survive let alone enjoy a sense of wildlife peace and contentment destroyed. And then I got to thinking, what's the difference between the BP oil rig explosion and a terrorist attack? The violent effects are the same. In fact, the BP incident will potentially have as great or greater destructive force than any terrorist attack to date, over a very extensive geographic area, and with a matrix of adverse economic and other impacts that will be felt for a long time to come. BP, it seems, has a long history of willful negligence as to how it runs its operations. Add to that a longstanding climate in Washington where oil & gas industry lobbyists fight against environmental regulation, oversight, rule enforcement, and other measures that would serve as safeguards to protect the public trust. BP's position, of course, is that it didn't intend for the oil rig to explode, that the incident and unleashed aftermath are an "accident." But there is an air of inevitability about such a disaster occurring - and it did in fact occur - when by deliberate omission there aren't sufficient checks to prevent it. The disaster seems to me to be neither accidental, nor sudden and unexpected. If an unsupervised child is given matches to play with and sets a house on fire - is that an accident?

Imagine if terrorists had blown up the oil rig, with the same result of oil leaking uncontrollably into the ocean. The rhetoric from the right would be different I'm sure (though I don't kid myself - they would use it as a chest-thumping rallying cry to push for more ocean drilling and rigs.) I am starting to view wantonly irresponsible corporate entities such as BP as tantamount to terrorist actors. (Add Goldman Sachs to the list, for its serene and remorseless role in bringing down the financial system.)

The Republican Party has come to be the party of wantonly self-serving corporate interests which (with the aid of Republicans in government, including most disturbingly the transparently corporatist activists of the U. S. Supreme Court) do everything in their power to remain unfettered and unaccountable under the cover of a radical ideology whose core tenet can be summarized without irony as "Greed is Good." In either case, whether the actions of a terrorist group acting in the name of one ideology, or of an irresponsible corporation acting in the guise of another, the consequences - whether intended or collateral - can be identical: devastation, ruin, and suffering on an unimaginable scale.

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