Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Blackwater Park

These are metal lyrics to the song
Blackwater Park, the 2001 album of the same name by one of favourite bands, Opeth

Of the tragedies in man
Lurking in the core of us all
The last dying call for the everlost
Brief encounters, bleeding pain

Perhaps they are contrived, perhaps they are lacking poetic merit, but that is besides the point. To the music of the song they are absolutely haunting, and in fact, I have put the song on and am listening to it right now while I write this posting.

The reason for this is that today I was on the elliptical, buried deep inside a Vanity Fair issue with Meryl Streep on the cover but no mention of the feature I read inside: a frightening, disturbing and detailed accurate of Erik Prince, the evangelical billionaire Detroit auto fortune heir who founded Blackwater, the "private security firm" that is just f****ing all kinds of shit up all over the world. Here is a copy of the article.

So you'll get to read how this man, whose father's funeral featured a eulogy delivered by none other than Focus on the Family's James Dobson, founded a "special ops" company in the 1990s. It started out as rich kids shooting weapons in the vasts tracts of North Carolina land he bought up, and today is a multibillion dollar company providing a wide range of military services to whoever asks for them (All their exploits are well documented in the article). Yes, it is the famous Blackwater of Iraq. This founder, Mr. Prince, looks and sounds like the protagonist in a Jerry Bruckheimer-Michael Bay collaboration, and his life reads like an episode of 24. Unfortunately, you'll have the misfortune of realizing it's real. My favourite segment of the article is at the end, when he talks about setting up a special ops navy seals type base off the coast of Africa to provide what he calls "Relief With Teeth".

The first time I've heard such a term, but it's what I've realized is favoured by the "donor", "aid providing" USA. I read an excellent serial in Libération which gives myriad examples of behaviour similar to the recent well-publicized case of child smuggling. In fact, US forces cordoned off the airport in Haiti in the days after the quake, blocking vital international aid, but opening the door to innumerable bible belt organizations who are accountable to noone to branch out in Haiti. For the purpose of distributing aid, of course, on paper, but usually revealed to have dubious ulterior motives and enjoy a level of comfort far beyond anything the local population does, the ultimate slap in the face since they operate amongst it.

These groups, however, can continue to operate with impunity while proudly and shamelessly claiming to do "God's" work. Our own Prime Minister, if you look here, has a former Focus on the Family president as one of his top advisors. If you are still unfamiliar with the mother of evangelical groups, I suggest you start getting to know them. Their chief, the aforementioned "doctor" Dobson, took in personal revenues of 138 million USD in 2007, and continues to be very active, funding the following super bowl ad this year. I feel like the absence of George W. has actually ramped up this kind of stuff.

It's fine to be pro-life, anti-gay, pro-abstinence and all...No, wait a minute, of course it's not! But it goes way beyond those three issues, non-existant for most of us; these guys act like those three things are all they care about, when in fact they're only the tip of the iceberg. How can you be a Christian spokeperson and friends with the head of something called Blackwater? And view the world as if there were only two virtuous countries in it, America and Israel. Sadly, if you're aware of the recent fiascos with KAIROS and Rights and Democracy, you'd realize that we have not been saved from the evangelical carnage. Our own government is now dominated by these same racist, imperialist reactionaries who view the world with anger and contempt from atop their hills in Alberta, Wyoming, Utah and across the heartland in their sterilized suburbs jacked up on petroleum and consumerist steroids. I think we should force them all into a suburb called Blackwater Park, in honour of the album whose terrifying brutal rhythms of it continue to roll on here in the background and sadden me as I lament the horrible ends to which those who govern us deploy their means of power.

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