I am quite surprised that this thread is still going and has not descended into cutlass anarchy.
I found this article: The Republic of East Vancouver - Your completely biased news source since 2000
that takes quite a different perspective on piracy and gives one pause to consider our collective origins. Excerpted below…
……“Pirates are bad, everybody knows it. But history
is irony’s attic trunk, and sure enough, there is a gem of irony in the reappearance of piracy off Africa
, after a very lengthy hiatus. Specifically, the irony is found in exactly where piracy is reappearing, who is doing it, and to whom it is being done.
Three hundred years ago (come on, a mere blink of an eye!), pirates sailing out of safe harbours in lawless lands attacked and robbed with impunity state-flagged vessels of modern nations carrying the goods and money necessary to the smooth functioning of international commerce and tourism.
Only in this case, they were pirates who called New York
home, and it was Muslim cargo and passenger ships in and around the Red Sea that were mercilessly attacked, their crews hacked to pieces, their passengers raped, murdered and enslaved, and their merchant goods and gold stolen—to be auctioned at pennies to the dollar on wharfs in the harbours of New York
, Philadelphia and other North American seaboard colonies.
Nobody in nascent America much minded, either. The victims were only heathens, usually well-heeled tourists on their way to and from Mecca for the Haj pilgrimage.
Popular movies and books
have created the popular impression that the hey-day of piracy took place in the Caribbean
and was run by outlaws unwelcome in the civilized world.
The truth is quite different, according to the foremost expert on historical piracy, Douglass R Burgess Jr, in his 2008 book, The Pirates’ Pact: The secret alliances between history’s most notorious buccaneers and colonial America.
piracy was nothing compared to what was going on in and around the Red Sea. The Muslim nations in the 17th Century were by far richer than anything European or in the growing European colonial occupations around the world. The Red Sea contained far more floating prizes to steal among the more advanced and more highly developed Muslim countries than anything to be found between newly emergent European countries and their barely functioning colonial enterprises. Most of these colonies were anyway established merely as land-piracy operations themselves, interested only in ripping out raw resources and gold for shipping
back home, with piratical murder and mayhem brought to anyone who stood in the way.
We also have come to believe pirates then and now are outlaws. This would also be wrong. The most avaricious, and vicious, pirates not only operated in the full knowledge of British-appointed governors and the elite of the new business world in the American colonies, they operated with direct state and business sponsorship, support, and collusion.
Burgess makes clear in his book that the actual highwater mark for piracy—that which flowed out of American east coast
cities like New York and attacked international shipping in the Red Sea—was integral to the growth and establishment of those ports
as the teeming successful and wealthy cities they are today. Piracy in the years 1680 to 1720 or thereabouts was so openly encouraged and financed by leaders in the business and political world of the American north east that it would be accurate to say that in their early decades, at least, they were largely pirate economies, living and growing off the delivery
, and distribution of pirate booty.”…