Why Do the Pirates Plunder Us?

The Somali pirate "crisis" has triggered many of the responses one would expect. People are angry, demanding action and often violence against pirates. Even the usually peaceful -- some might even say Christ-like -- President Obama didn't put a stop to the siege against the pirates, and now he has pirate blood on his well-manicured hands. And Americans are happy about this! Perhaps all the anger is because we think we've been victimized, like the pirates just randomly decided to try and loot our ships and take our people hostage for ransom. But there is nothing random about this. It's time to stop and really ask ourselves the hard question: Why do they plunder us?

The arrogant, simplistic answer is, "Well, that's just what pirates do. They plunder booty." That's not a real answer though; we need to dig deeper and see their motivations. We need to see that our own actions are a part of it. Now, I'm not one of those "blame America first" people (though America is pretty much at fault for everything bad that happens lately), but there is a lot we could do better to give the pirates more options than the anger they feel for us and use against us. Put yourself in a pirate's boots; what would you say if you looked upon American culture and its attitudes towards pirates? You'd probably say, "Arr!" or "Shiver me timbers!" because what else would there be to say?

In America, pirates are an extremely marginalized and stereotyped group. They are often used as mascots for sports teams and seafood restaurants and cast as stupid, mindless villains in movies. The respected actor Johnny Depp has apparently made it his mission in life to portray pirates as nothing more than objects of ridicule. All this, and there is pretty much no effort on our part to understand or support pirates. How many leaders in America even recognize the holiest of pirate holidays -- September nineteenth, International Talk Like a Pirate Day? None I can think of.