Gee, Officer Krupke, don’t treat that boy rough!
His country's a mess, and he don’t eat enough.
Them pirates ain’t delinquents,
They’re just misunderstood,
Deep down inside them there is good!
-- Not from the Lyrics to West Side Story
Judging by today's post in Passport (Pirate Overkill) it sounds like someone is ready to break out in tears over the plight of Abdul Kadhir Muse, the Somali pirate who is now in U.S. custody. Muse, it seems, is merely a victim of his environment, a “malnourished 16-year old” who was produced by a “hellish situation” (which he certainly isn’t responsible for, since Somalia went to hell before he was even born), and who is now in big trouble for “participating in a criminal act.”
Muse was just participating in the violent seizure of a vessel, you see, which somehow sounds a bit more passive than saying that he committed a criminal act by firing on a vessel and threatening to kill the crew. For all we know, he might even have been an unwitting participant who was just hanging around with some other people when they seized the Maersk Alabama, in a maritime application of the trusty SODDI defense that courts hear every day.
Being born in Somalia and hungry all the time could turn anyone into a pirate, I suppose. When you put it that way, it sounds like he’s not fully responsible for his actions. He’s probably a good person at heart who, through no fault of his own, never had a positive role model and can’t be expected to know any better than to hijack ships and hold hostages. And the heartbreaking thing about it all is that the goofy kid broke out in a big grin when they put him in jail in New York because he knows that now he’ll finally get three square meals a day.
The poor boy! First, the sailors on the Maersk Alabama beat him up and took his AK-47, and now a bunch of mean scowling white men in the NYPD and FBI are – sniff, sniff – treating Muse like he’s a real criminal instead of someone who just needs a little direction in life.
It's the kind of sob-mongering I'd expect to hear from Muse's mother, not from a foreign policy journal. Personally, I’m holding back my tears. I’ll bet that Muse looked a lot more threatening to the sailors who saw him coming at them with an AK or an RPG.
Update (or maybe the word is predate):
I see that the extremely relevant Eagle Speak had a post yesterday with much more on the sympathetic treatment that young Mister Muse is getting from the news media, and that he also anticipated my 'Officer Krupke' bit. In my jet-lagged state I hadn't been keeping up with him often enough and didn't see that post until just now.
I should have known better than to write anything on the subject of Somali pirates before checking Eagle Speak. Lesson learned.