Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from
Here at CounterPunch we love Barbara Ehrenreich for many reasons: her courage, her intelligence and her untarnished optimism. Ehrenreich knows what’s important in life; she knows how hard most Americans have to work just to get by, and she knows what it’s going to take to forge radical change in this country. We’re proud to fight along side her in this long struggle. We hope you agree with Barbara that CounterPunch plays a unique role on the Left. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.
Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
I’m Proud to be a Pirate!
Shiver me timbers, boys and girls, we is awash in a sea of pirates down here in the Southern Ocean and it’s time for a parley to do a little ‘splaining on the subject. This ocean now rivals the 17th century Caribbean for reported acts of piracy. The only thing lacking is the Sea Shepherd member Orlando Bloom.
Japanese whalers are accusing the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Greenpeace crew members of being pirates. Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace are accusing the whalers of being pirates. The whalers and Greenpeace are accusing Sea Shepherd of being pirates. The Japanese government is throwing the word piracy about as freely as the governor of Jamaica once did.
No one has sunk any ships, looted any cargos, kidnapped any damsels (just a couple of blokes) or forced anyone to walk the plank yet – but listening to the rhetoric, the public could be forgiven from thinking these activities are ravaging the Southern main.
My ship, the Steve Irwin, does fly a modern version of the Jolie Rouge, the original name of the banner that evolved into the skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger. We decided years ago that if people were going to call us pirates, we would adopt our own version, and designed the crossed Neptune trident and shepherd’s staff with the skull.
As soon as we hoisted that black flag, kids from around the world began to write to us in support. Our Jolly Roger hats and shirts have become our most popular merchandise. Why? Because there is a romance associated with piracy that is separate from the reality. Some pirates were noble heroes and some were dastardly villains. It’s all a matter of perspective. If you love whales, we be heroes; but if you eat whales then we be pirates.
Back in the 17th century it was not the British navy that shut down piracy in the Caribbean. The military and the politicians were not interested. Piracy was finally shut down in the Spanish Main by the pirate Sir Henry Morgan. It took a pirate to end piracy. His reward was to be appointed governor of Jamaica, where he was able to pilfer more booty through politics than he ever did from the deck of a ship.
There are pirates of profit, like the Japanese; pirates of opportunity, like the politicians; and pirates of compassion, like Sea Shepherd. It is a little difficult to cast Sea Shepherd’s unpaid volunteers, selflessly trying to save the lives of whales, as ruthless pirates.
On the other hand, the Japanese whalers are illegally stealing and killing whales from a sanctuary and territory that is supposed to be under the sovereignty of Australia. The whalers have also taken hostages, demanding conditions for their return.
So why do those pirates in Canberra consistently refuse to protect Australian territory from illegal foreign exploitation? The answer is the same for those politicians today as it was for British politicians in 1650 – there’s money to be made, under the table and through the back door; there are trade agreements to consider; and some pirates – especially the Japanese – have good public relations firms and powerful financial backing. So we have Australia condemning the Japanese and doing very little to stop their whaling fleet’s ruthless plundering.
At least proper piracy has a long list of renowned and admirable practitioners: John Paul Jones, who founded the navies of both the US and Russia; Jean LaFitte, who stood with General Andrew Jackson in defence of New Orleans; and Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, knighted by Elizabeth I.
I stand in honourable company as a modern-day pirate, though I’ve not shot anyone, burned any ships, looted any cargos or kidnapped anyone. We are also pirates with a sense of humour and a moral code of non-violence. In 30 years of eco-piracy we have never injured a single poacher, though we’ve sent nine whalers to the bottom. Instead of cannon balls, our guns shoot coconut cream and chocolate pie-filling. We toss stink bombs instead of grenades and we are so non-violent we don’t even eat meat or fish on our ships. No fish, fowl or mammals have died in the making of our high seas campaigns.
What we do is defend the whales from illegal slaughter by ruthless and merciless killers. If people want to call us pirates for that, we’re proud to be so. We have whales to save and Japanese ships to attack.
Captain PAUL WATSON is founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society www.seashepherd.org