MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - I have often wondered what the Plains Indians felt as hide hunters killed off their bison--the vast herds which were the center of their lives. These days, the poor folks along the Gulf can no doubt identify with those indigenous peoples--and the helpless rage and pain they must have felt. As plumes of oil, toxic to humans and wildlife, invade their beaches, fisheries, and wetlands, they can only stand by and watch helplessly, unable to protect what they love and live from. "I get tears in my eyes, because when you'd pull into that marsh previously, fish would jump and scurry," said one Louisiana resident (quoted in Newsweek), describing a ruined wetland. "[Afterwards,] ain't a bird, ain't a bug, nothing....Everything was dead."
Though the spill in the Gulf was an accident, and the killing of the bison was intentional, there are similarities between the two catastrophes. Both were the result of market forces too big for their actual settings. President Obama and Attorney General Holder have raised the possibility of criminal prosecutions: Given the number of safety violations that BP stands accused of, it may in fact turn out that the Gulf has been savaged by criminals.