Kindra Arnesen (photo by NRDC). She has emerged in the public eye as quickly as Athena sprang from the head of Zeus, fully grown and ready for combat with the enemies of truth and justice. She is an exemplary example of an ordinary citizen daring to get involved when everyone around her is cowed into silence. Whether she has ever met fellow Louisianan Tab Benoit, she is in sync with his message to us all: It is time to get involved.
On May 28th of this year I ran over to the Jewish Mother Restaurant in Virginia Beach. Tab Benoit, award-winning Cajun Bluesman, environmental activist and creator of the Voice of the Wetlands Music Festival in Houma, Louisiana was doing another gig there; in fact it is one of his favorite venues, where he can get really down and dirty with us, speaking from the heart without any fear of repercussions, and so he did, about BP and the Gulf of Mexico to a packed audience on that hot Friday night.
I hadn't even learned of Tab's gig until the night before, had now been in a rush to get there and hadn't had the chance to charge my camera battery, so the battery crapped out in the middle of the spiel he was giving about the disaster overtaking Lousiana and the Gulf, but here is most of it:
During the intermission between sets Tab also stood outside in the Jewish Mother courtyard and spoke to a dozen or so of us. The bottom line, he leveled with us, is that BP is running the whole show, and the government, Homeland Security, Obama, the Coast Guard, they are all in BP's lap! Tab is a licensed pilot, yet he mourned how he couldn't even take his plane up to see what was going on in the Gulf, because of the No Fly zone being extended daily across the Gulf!
Again and again he reiterated how all of us have got to take action, meaningful action to stop what I call this black hole of destruction, this vile collaboration between Big Oil and corrupt government that is now becoming not just a threat to Louisiana, but to the entire Gulf of Mexico and beyond. Someone exclaimed, "It sounds like we need a revolution" I seconded that motion. Tab nodded in agreement. Again he underscored that is up to all of us to take responsibility for saving the day.
It is common knowledge that almost everyone is scared shitless of BP on the Gulf. Why? Because they are the King (how British) of Oil down there. They have taken over the Good Ole Boy Network and now make cops, sheriffs and Coast Guard admirals hop when they say "JUMP!" Don't want reporters snooping around? Call security and intimidate them! Don't want photographers and videographers filming dead dolphins and scorched sea-turtles? Call security and drive them off! Don't want embarrassing videos getting on or staying on major websites? Call some corporate, white-shoe boys who can get them yanked!
Don't want to stop using deadly, deadly Corexit, because that hides the surface oil, even after the EPA says to stop using it? Call the double-breasted-suit boys in Washington who are on your lobbying list. The EPA will soon dance to your tune!
So the thousands and thousands of hard-pressed fishermen and workers on the Gulf, put out of business by BP's deeds of hubris, now have to come begging, hat in hat, for clean-up jobs, and they all get the message: Shut up and do as you're told or your family and you will starve and/or face eviction!
And to add injury to insult, BP, playing its little liability game, turns around and says, you know, not only am I going to screw you once by ruining your livelihoods, but I'm going to really rub it in to protect my bottom line: I am going to screw you twice! We are going to pretend that none of this oil, benzene, methane, Corexit, etc. is hazardous to your health. You are NOT going to even wear respirators, and you are going to get poisoned, slowly but surely, if not quickly and surely. Screw OSHA, BP must be thinking, they're in our lap too.
I used to work at what was once known as NORSHIPCO Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia (the British, BAE Systems that is, now own that too!) With all the toxins in the air on some of the big tankers we worked on, down in the ballast/fuel oil tanks especially, if you didn't wear a respirator when down there, and with the right kind of filters to boot, you were asking for trouble, illness, even death. So who the Hell is BP kidding, filling the Gulf of Mexico with over a million gallons of Corexit and counting, and telling its employees not even to wear respirators!
BP and its bosses, and the way they are strong-arming and silencing, impoverishing and sickening everyone, reminds me of this scene from that famous movie:
No one ever said it would be easy, standing up for the truth, for justice, the living, or even honoring the dead.