Call it the white sailor's burden: for months now, international sailors plying their trade in the lawless seas off the now-infamous coast of Somalia have fallen victim to pirates emanating from that collapsed state. However, while the media has widely reported these incidences of piracy, few media outlets have covered the personal aspects of these kidnappings. A maritime group has decided that the time is right to point out that, gee, there are far more sailors of other nationalities who've found themselves unwilling captives. What about them? From Reuters:
Does the life of one American hanging in the balance merit more attention than those of countless unnamed (non-white) others?
The international community is showing hypocrisy by suddenly focusing on Somali piracy because of the capture of one American, a regional maritime group said on Saturday. Sea gangs from the lawless Horn of Africa nation grabbed world headlines this week when they briefly hijacked the US freighter Maersk Alabama. Its 20 crew retook control, but the gunmen took Capt. Richard Phillips hostage on a lifeboat.
The global media have tracked in great detail each twist and turn of the drama as it unfolds, including a failed attempt to swim to safety by the former Boston taxi driver. But Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Program said it was a pity similar attention was not paid to the nearly 250 other hostages—all from poorer nations—currently being held by other Somali pirates.
The biggest nationality represented, at 92, is Filipino. “The media and the international community at large [are] just demonstrating [their] hypocrisy,” Mwangura said in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, where the 17,000-ton Alabama arrived on Saturday. “Journalists have flooded here from all over the world because of one American captain. What about all the others, from Bangladesh, from Pakistan, from the Philippines, some of whom have been held now for months?”
The story has all the front-page ingredients: Buccaneers audaciously try to seize a huge US container ship, its sailors resist, then Phillips apparently volunteers to board the lifeboat with the pirates in return for his crew’s safety. Meanwhile, a state-of-the-art US naval destroyer armed with missiles, torpedoes and helicopters keeps a watchful eye. And more warships are on the way...
“It was the same in 2005. The media went crazy when that luxury cruise liner, the Seabourn Spirit, was attacked with lots of white tourists on board. And they weren’t even hijacked.”.