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Chelsea Green Blog

BP Is Messing With The Wrong Woman

The following review of Diane Wilson’s book, Diary of an Eco-Outlaw, was written by David Swanson. It appeared originally on his website,

A year ago BP began filling the Gulf of Mexico with oil.

Last week BP blocked a woman from entering its annual meeting.

Which will prove the bigger mistake?

BP may have chosen the right country to hit with the worst oil disaster in world history. If there’s any population that will take seeing its land and water destroyed for corporate profit lying down, it’s got to be us. We’re split between gratitude and indifference: should we thank BP or just stay out of its way?

BP may have chosen the right government to kick in the teeth. BP agreed to a $20 billion settlement that falls very far short of the damage. A year later, the U.S. Department of Justice is pretending to consider the possibility of charging BP with manslaughter for the deaths of 11 men in the explosion that started the gusher. Such a step wouldn’t scrape the surface of the death and destruction BP has created, but it would constitute such a radical reversal of President Obama’s doctrine of immunity for corporate crime that nobody really thinks it’s likely. But BP (which stands for Belching Petroleum) has made one wrong move. BP has pissed off Diane Wilson. To understand why this blunder could prove fatal, read Wilson’s newly published “Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth.” This is an hilariously entertaining book of an almost impossible sort. For years I’ve met fulltime hardcore activists full of powerful and colorful stories that I thought I knew would die with them. Most people are tragically and frustratingly allergic to writing anything down. Wilson is an all-out activist, a Gulf Coast shrimper turned civil resister who has made herself a major thorn in the side of several multinational corporations. She’s part Forest Gump, part Erin Brokovich, part Daniel Berrigan, and she has put her stories down on paper. Her book is a guide to becoming a one-person justice movement. Wilson has not only lived as a shrimper who experienced the arrival of the polluting chemical companies that would kill off the shrimp, but she has put that experience into context — and I mean context: “I’ll admit right up front that I’m soft and foolish about the fishermen so I imagine now that our inability to see our own end back then was like that first Indian who saw the first Spanish ship. At first, he couldn’t see the ship. There was nothing in his life or the land where he lived that allowed him to imagine — let alone see — a Spanish galleon. But he could tell that the water moved different. So he did something that, probably, his granddaddy or daddy taught him. Or maybe it was his momma that taught him to watch the water carefully. So he saw how the water swirled and how the light hit the water with a charcoal blackness that he only saw at night. But it wasn’t night. It was broad daylight. Then he saw the ship! It probably took two days for that Indian to see the heavy bobbing ship that was fixing to change his life forever. Fishermen aren’t nearly as quick so it took us forty years to see the pipes and cement and metal towers and tanks and flares and fences and chemicals of every description that were coloring the very air we breathed. And, I say with every ounce of kindness that I possess because I love the fishermen, we were fools.” Continue reading this review at Check out Diary of an Eco-Outlaw in our bookstore now.

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