Going on the Account: Flags They Sail Under

Ever feel sometimes like you’re watching a comedy of misunderstanding?  Occurring on all sides of you in a totally immersive environment?


Put it another way, you know that feeling you get when you understand everything while the folk around you don’t?


There’re just too many examples now where folks discussing pirates, both modern and from the Golden Age, seem to just not get it.  Sorry, but really…


Case in point:  Two examples of people who don’t seem to understand how things work over in Somalia.  Thanks to Jay Badhaur’s blog for flagging for a report from Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) that suggests that the only way to combat piracy off the Horn of Afrcia is with a greater commitment of force; this with the review of Martin Murphy’s Somalia: The New Barbary? in the WASHINGTON TIMES is a sure sign that folks on the right hand side of the aisle continue to confuse screws with nails because they just don’t carry anything other than a hammer with them.  The failure to see that there has to be a solution ashore on the ground to the matter will condemn the seas to further bloodshed, and add more ships to the twenty seven in pirate hands as of this writing.


About the only good this situation has produced as of late is word that Paul Greengrass may be working with Tom Hanks on adapting A Captain’s Duty for the screen.  It’ll be  an interesting combination, and at the very, very least no worse than the fourth Captain Jack Sparrow outing.  At least in A Captain’s Duty, we’d actually see pirates doing some pirating…


(Cheap shot?  If I really wanted to make one of those, I’d have drawn comparisons between PotC4 and this film…)


And speaking of pirates from a time when you had ships of iron and men of wood…

No, wait, that’s not how it goes…


Anyway, there was surprise made in some quarters about the discovery of Blackbeard’s choice of weapons found at the site of the Queen Anne’s Revenge sinking.  Reading the piece makes me think that there are too many folk out there that still have this idea that being called a scurvy dog by your contemporaries meant that you were somehow not that well developed.  It’s a shame that most of the folks writing about pirates seem to have missed Berenson Little’s The Sea Rover’s Practice, which would have made clear just how accomplished the Brethren of the Coast were; the need to stay ahead of the European empires through wits and skill makes such revelations more readily accepted without the surprise most folks seem to exhibit.


The point, if there ever really was one before the full-steam kvetching began, is that there are still too many people with preconceptions about pirates, and ideas about them that they wish to impose on a reality that just does not support them.  Much like the object of these folks’ attention, the real pirates just do not play by the rules, theirs or anyone else’s, and asking them to lay prone to an imposition from without is a fool’s errand.


And if the study of buccaneers teaches us anything, most of them were nobody’s fools…

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