Thu, 24 Jun 2010 16:15 EDT
Kindra Arnesen 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.
Sorry I didn't record the entire speech, but you get the drift: We all have to find out what is really happening down there, jump in the fire and do what we're supposed to do in our hearts to save the country.
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.
Needed, Some Terry Malloys
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.
Like Tab Benoit implored, who is going to jump into the fire and take some of the pressure off those who are struggling against this monstrosity?
Enter Kindra Arnesen
On the street level, among the fishermen and clean-up workers, fear still holds sway, ruling the day, and night. There have been a few who have spoken out from the wetland grass roots level, but it hasn't been enough so far. However, I stumbled across one voice just now that is indeed loud and clear, and the voice of a woman, not a man. I see we should spell Terry with an i, so we can recruit both men and women to break the silence and fight back against BP and its spider-web of government collaborators.
The woman I am referring to is Kindra Arnesen, who ended up being interviewed on CNN recently after her fisherman husband and the crews of eight shrimp boats had come down sick as dogs after getting downwind of the oil spill. Watch, as she speaks out:
She calls BP and the EPA on their lies, the only one the above CNN reporter could find who WOULD speak out. "It starts with one" Kindra says, "and if I have to be the one, I have to be the one."
Her husband coming down ill, losing his livelihood, then being forced to work for BP while signing a gag order, then her children getting ill and her entire, beloved environment going to Hell, all this only sharpened Kindra's tongue, strengthened her convictions and heightened her awareness, leading her to get more and more active, jumping deeper and deeper into the fire until finally on June 19, 2010 at the Gulf Emergency Summit in New Orleans, she gave one of the most eloquent, forceful J'accuse speeches I have ever heard against a de facto criminal syndicate:
Kindra is a unique resident of the equally unique fishing "village" of Venice, Louisiana, which was all but destroyed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But It was another one of those American towns too tough to die. Actually, Venice isn't even incorporated, sports a population only in the hundreds unless you include nearby Boothville, which jacks the figure up to 2740, and is nicknamed, ominously, "the end of the world". That is because it is the last drivable-to outpost on the southernmost reach of the Mississippi River.
Consequently, it has also been one of the first communities in the state to become inundated with first tar-balls and then waves of BP oil, which is now wrecking havoc upon the flora and fauna, the wetlands, birds and fish of Venice and surrounding territories.
However, Venice also has this singular importance: it is the home of what has become a key Coast Guard response center against the catastrophic BP oil and gas rupture, and all manner of important officials and politicos from President Obama on down have been wandering in and out of here.
And perhaps this parade also helped prompt Kindra to challenge these ranks and their endless bromides and nonsense projections. Nothing like some local, common sense expertise and straight talk to bring folks back to earth, is there? And ever since she first spoke out in the above CNN video, the phone has been ringing off the hook, literally if not figuratively to hear more from her. To quote from Rocky Kistner of the NRDC:
Kindra has been the focus of media attention ever since she began speaking out over a month ago. When I visited her comfortable but cluttered home in Venice, a documentary film crew from Chicago was filming her family during dinner, while another film crew waited outdoors. Her husband cooked while the kids fought over the remote control.Here is a real, salt of the earth and daughter of the sea American with superb fighting spirit, taking up the sword of truth for about the most important cause on earth right now, saving the Gulf of Mexico and indirectly, all the oceans. Hell, run her for president! All the phony, posturing, calculating politicians out there, male or female, will just, in her presence, wither away.
Kindra didn't seem fazed by all the attention. She was angry and had one thing on her mind; protect her family, her community and the place she loves. She's on the warpath against the BS that she believes flows like the spewing oil well out BP reps' and politicians' mouths. Her mission is to get people involved and organized. It's a non-stop task, and her cell phone doesn't stop ringing. Network TV and national newspapers and magazines call on her regularly. She's become the Erin Brockovich of Venice (the environmental legal aid who took on mammoth PG&E in California).(source)