Justifying criminality by being anti-American

Sometimes criminals end up anti-American, and perhaps a need to justify the criminality is the reason.
Take for example:
“The 419 scam comes in many shapes and sizes, — it sometimes arrives as an appeal to rich Westerners to come to the aid of an impoverished African child. Another lucrative prey of the 419 scammers are the lovelorn, in particular middle-aged widows and divorcees who develop virtual relationships with West African men who slowly leech them of their savings as an advance on a sexual congress that never happens.
But most of all, the 419ers appeal to the basic instinct of greed.
Every year countless Europeans and Americans are fleeced of thousands or tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars each. In 2005 alone, citizens in developed countries admitted to losses of more than 3 billion dollars. This is a low estimate, because many people don’t want to confess that they were fooled.
Many Nigerians regard this type of crime as a scandal to Nigeria’s reputation. But some feel that the 419 scam is just the chickens of colonialism coming home to roost. The huge popularity of the 419 anthem, “I Go Chop Your Dollar,” suggested that these sentiments are widely held in Nigeria. An excerpt follows:

You be the mugu, I be the master
Oyinbo man [White man], I go chop your dollar,
I go take your money and disappear
419 is just a game, you are the loser I am the winner.

The main street in the Sao Paulo district, Iphigenia, is full of shops selling pirated goods made in China. For example, you could buy the forthcoming Windows OS, Vista, for two dollars a copy long before it was available on the licit market. When anti-crime researcher Misha Glenny went to this market, one vendor said to him “Don’t be an American slave, be a patriot and buy fake goods!”. This commercial anti-Americanism helps to sustain popular support for the trade in illicit goods in Brazil and indeed throughout South America. Other than the police and lawyers involved in the struggle against piracy, not a single Brazilian who Misha talked to regarded the trade as immoral.
Of the many things British Columbia has in abundance, space and electricity has been decisive in transforming it into one of the world’s great marijuana farms. Anti-Americanism is strong in BC because it has disagreements with the U.S about softwood, which may be justified and of course growers disagree with the U.S. about Marijuana, much of which they illegally sell to U.S. customers.

Marijuana may seem rather innocuous, but it does make lasting changes in the brain, and people who observe marijuana smokers say that they noticed long-term behavior changes:

The primary changes were loss of motivation and interest in what most of us like best (i.e., other people, sports, learning, exchanging ideas). “It makes you lazy and kind of stupid” was a common description.

It also impairs car-driving. In general, my feeling is that even the “soft” drugs are to be avoided.
So do these foreigners who engage in illegal activity have a point?
In the case of Nigeria, probably the dupes are people who trust black Africans, not slave holders or white supremacists. None of them personally have colonized Africa. As far as Brazil goes, the Brazilians were never “slaves to the Americans” but some Brazilians were slaves to other Brazilians. As far as Canada goes, I can understand the need for people to make a living, but selling a product that damages other people is not the way to do it, nor is it a justification for anti-Americanism.

Various events – the rise of China, the collapse of the Communism in the USSR, technological changes such as the internet, and the ability to launder money easily make it easy for masses of hungry people all over the world to commit crimes against Americans, Western Europeans, (and each other). But at least they should have the honesty to admit that they are crooks, and not avengers of American behavior toward them.

McMafia by Misha Glenny (2008)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s