North American media, Andrew Nikiforuk says, take for granted how much oil undermines democracy, powers our food system, feeds our drug-addled medical industry and concentrates our cities like bovine feedlots
Oil has fantastic powers: Like the genie from One Thousand and One Nights, it can grant impossible political wishes both fair and foul. This is why the U.S. oil baron John D. Rockefeller once, in a moment of reflection, called oil “the Devil’s tears,” and why Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani, in a moment of exasperation, wished that Saudi Arabia had discovered water, and why the late Venezuelan writer Jose Ignacio Cabrujas, in a moment of subversion, wrote that oil can create “a culture of miracles” that erases memory.
Canadians, the newly minted inhabitants of “an emerging energy superpower,” now stand at the gas pumps cursing the price of oil and the prospect of shortened summer vacations. Yet they forget that many of our ancestors agonized about the price of slaves only 200 years ago. We too complained bitterly about the cost of feeding indentured labour, and dismissed the ugly rhetoric of abolitionists as offensive.