Friday, October 5, 2007

Render Unto Big Oil: Hill & Knowlton Whitens Your Sepulchres

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."
-Matthew 23:27

No one should be surprised that the petroleum companies are threatened by the Alberta government's admission they they should be charging more for the hand jobs, and no one should be surprised that The National Post is in the front row of the cheerleaders. Today's Post nicely manages to compare increased royalties to the crucifixion of Christ under the emperor Tiberius.

(By the way, if the Canadian public applied The Tiberius Standard Of Accuracy to The National Post, that paper would have been thrown to its death ages ago...)

So, who defends the moneyed interests, when the money needs defending? Some soldiers fight for a cause, others do it for money. We call those soldiers "mercenaries"... those who kill for profit. And Alberta's petroleum interests have hired one of the biggest and baddest mercenary armies out there: Hill & Knowlton.

Hill & Knowlton is the international PR firm behind, a polished and professional web site disguising itself as a grassroots movement of Alberta pro-oil citizens that sprang up seemingly overnight in response to the Alberta oil royalties issue. This underscores Hill & Knowlton's "24x7x365" readiness to respond to a crisis. Of course, we aren't talking about the kind of crisis where things are burning down and lives are threatened... we're talking about the kind of crisis where the livestock suddenly demands slightly better feed. Business Edge even ends their article on the matter with the phrase "Can Alberta get it right in 2007?"

The fear and rhetoric building up around the Oil Royalties issue reminds me of the buildup of fear and falsehoods about Iraq before the invasion(s). And maybe that's not entirely coincidental.

In 1991, many were moved by the testimony of a semi-anonymous "Nurse Nariyah" who testified to a Congressional hearing that "I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where . . . babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die." What was lost amongst the tears and outrage is that "Nurse Nariyah" was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, and that H&K coached her to say things even the Kuwaitis knew at the time weren't true, in order to justify the invasion.

Our dependency on oil is a bad habit. Hill & Knowlton has lots of practice at defending those. In 1954, H&K helped the tobacco industry try to dismiss the recent notion that smoking might not be such a good idea. And let's not forget Hill & Knowlton's stirring defense of torturers, corporate criminals, Enron, Scientology, and polluters, among others.

Will Albertans (and their government) cringe in superstitious terror about losing their oil money, or will they realize that oil is money... more so than ever... and it doesn't belong to the companies to extract it and sell it, any more than a pimp owns his prostitutes?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you!!

For helping me connect the dots!