Nigel Austin 

author of The Robin Gibson series

​​​Posted 14th December 2016

Fighting for the soul of America

The stand-off at Standing Rock, North Dakota, in the Disunited States, is yet another example of just how much Corporate America despises and rides roughshod over The People .. particularly, in this instance, those who still cling to the belief that they have rights to their lands and clean water and freedom of speech and protest under their democratic constitution.

We should not be surprised at Big Oil’s arrogance and blatancy but what has been happening at Standing Rock is nothing short of a national disgrace. As the mainstream media ignored for as long as possible the confrontation between the Native Americans seeking to protect what is theirs and the forces amassed against them by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the State Governor and the Federal government did nothing to support their citizens’ legitimate claims nor to safeguard their interests or well-being when they came under vicious and sustained attack. Meanwhile, President Obama made the minimum noises consistent with appearing to understand and care, whilst actually doing little substantive to help, all the time knowing it would soon be a problem for someone else, regardless of which party - it wasn’t really his concern. There were talk shows on which to appear and trot out aphorisms and anecdotes to demonstrate what a wise, cool guy he is and how much he will be missed.

Finally, under mounting pressure and a World spotlight, on December 4th, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the easement for construction of the pipeline under the Missouri River and undertook to conduct the environmental impact assessment they had fought hard to avoid earlier in the year. It represents at least a temporary victory for the protesters but almost certainly will not be the last that’s seen of ETP or their military-equipped thugs and attack dogs.

We should all be asking: how many more times must Native Americans be betrayed by their invaders and oppressors?

A truthful answer from ETP would be something like: “Who gives a shit! As many as it takes for this company to recover its investment and achieve its legitimate profitability expectations. Inevitably, there will be collateral damage but progress has never been risk-averse. Seizing such opportunities is what made America great.”

Politicians, being what they are, would be more diplomatic: “Let's not see this in terms of limits or the comparatively narrow interests of a minority. Globalisation demands that we look beyond considerations not germane to the core issues. Our concern has to be with keeping America competitive.

It’s clear who has been bought and who has done the paying. When the opinion of those who govern is rendered and decisions are made on the basis of Corporate interests alone, democracy has ceased to exist and plutocracy is in full flood. It is a dilemma of pandemic proportions but nowhere is it more evident today than in the US. The sickening capacity for evil of big corporations in their greedy pursuit of endless wealth strains credulity; that The People should ever accept it amounts to dereliction on an almost equal scale.

For weeks, I have been moved by the quiet dignity of the Lakota Sioux and their swelling numbers of supporters. As they maintain their vigil in the the face of freezing temperatures, they are a lesson and a reminder to us of the importance of resistance. They are fighting for the very soul of America.