|Monday, February 09, 2009|
A Kiwi Corporate Whore in the Land of the Rising Sun
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Being a public relations flunkie is great work if you can get it. Inside work, no heavy lifting, great money, travel opportunities, opportunities to get your name in the paper and lots of perks. However it does take a special kind of person to do the job right. It's an occupation that demands a lack of compassion, minimal conscience, a passion for the art of deception and a personality well insulated with greedy desires and white washed with a thick coat of sleaze. This kind of public relations work is a mercenary profession, a form of corporate whoring devoid of morals where all that matters is the fee for services rendered.
These services usually consist of selling an idea, a brand, a person or a corporation to the public by way of the media. Some people are just naturally good at it. They can polish their presentations so well that they can sell the idea of a complete incompetent for President of the United States and the people will buy it. In fact thanks to the genius of Karl Rove, they bought it twice.
Basically public relations is the packaging and marketing of bullshit. And public relations companies know their art. They know what sells and who best to sell it. If a company with a bad environmental and labour record is looking for a kinder, gentler image, they need not do much but hire an environmentalist social justice advocate and thus we now have Adam Werbach as the former President of the Sierra Club now hustling for Wal-Mart.
Or Patrick Moore, once President of Greenpeace now heading his own public relations firm Green Spirit to represent salmon farmers, loggers, biogenetic engineering, the chemical industry and the nuclear industry. Patrick who once famously said, "It does not matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true," is selling his clients with the logic that the products must be good or why else would he as the former President of Greenpeace be endorsing it?
The answer is simple of course for both Adam and Patrick. One word --Money! And I have to say for Moore and Werbach, they are pretty good at selling the snake oil for their bosses and the bosses know just what it takes to get the public hooked and then to reel them in.
The secret of a good public relations firm is imagination, the ability to conjure up fresh gimmicks and cons. The Japanese whaling industry has not been able to figure this out. Of course it is an archaic industry still surviving like yesterday's moldy bread within an ultra modern industrialized corporate society, and whalers are little more than savage remnants of a bygone era when the very idea of having respect for nature and other species was considered heretical.
So it stands to reason that the whalers should choose a complete incompetent as their public relations spokesperson for the Western World. The Japanese whalers have a New Zealander named Glenn Inwood as their mouthpiece and we're glad they do. The man is a priceless asset - for us.
A good public relations man should at least understand his opposition but Inwood does not. He should also understand the basics of diplomacy but Inwood does not.
Instead his approach is repetitive rhetoric and simplistic media statements. If he's trying to win the hearts and minds of the public in New Zealand or Australia, he's not doing a very good job. But they like what he has to say in Tokyo, and he's a Kiwi who would rather eat a whale than ride one so he's their kind of guy.
Glen Inwood, who is part Maori, likes to affiliate himself with a Maori image believing it lends credibility to his clients. When asked by a reporter why he has chosen to work for the whale killers, Inwood responded by saying, "The simple answer is because they have the right to do it. That's not to say that I don't think whales are magnificent creatures. I just don't believe they are sacrosanct - despite the best efforts of the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 (his mistake - the year is actually 1972) to make them so. The other answer is more complicated but is related to the environmental belief that the best way to monitor and protect whale stocks and achieve transparency is to end the moratorium and bring about a return to commercial whaling where the regulations are obeyed and seen to be obeyed."
Defending merciless slaughter is not an easy task. The Japanese do not have the right to slaughter endangered whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. Saying that the best way to protect whales is to kill them is the kind of ridiculous justification that we have come to expect from those who make a living fabricating lies to justify exploitation. He also admits in this statement that the Japanese are not obeying the regulations with regard to the moratorium.
Inwood has a big bag of tricks arguing that eating whale is no different than eating lamb, that the Maori once whaled so why can't the Japanese, even going so far as to say that it is an insult to Maori culture to rescue stranded whales because they are a gift from Tangaroa.
I've spoken to a few Maori who believe Inwood is an insult to Maori culture. Inwood has turned on his own people, labeling whale-loving New Zealanders as "bigots" for opposing Japanese whaling and describing the movie Whale Rider as "romantic nonsense."
Mr. Inwood's education in public relations seems to have been restricted to the Joseph Goebbels school of propaganda. Repeat a lie often enough, and loud enough, and some people may begin to believe it.
Inwood who founded Omeka Public Relations has a predictable method designed to demonize his adversaries. Simply put he uses sinister labels repeatedly to hammer an image into the mind of the public. For example in every release or interview he describes the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as an "eco-terrorist organization."
There is no legal basis to make this claim. Sea Shepherd has never been charged with terrorism nor have any Sea Shepherd crew ever been convicted of a felony in connection to Sea Shepherd actions. But PR whores are not concerned with fact or evidence - just images and memes.
Eco-terrorism is a meme, an idea and a tool used to undermine credibility. The only problem for Inwood is that the word terrorism is being used so freely these days that it has lost any real meaning. It does not matter if a person is defending whales, boycotting tuna fish, protesting the war in Iraq or running for President of the United States - the opposition who choose to use this label to condemn anyone they disagree with have so diminished the meaning of the word by abuse and overuse that they may as well call us "poopie faces" in the spirit of childish name calling games.
But of a more serious concern for his corporate clients - the whalers, Inwood has done them a great disservice by shooting his rhetoric from the hip, like some sort of hired-gun slinging cowboy who may be quick on the draw but a little slow on the strategy side of decision making. For example to make a public demand that Australia and New Zealand ban Sea Shepherd from their ports is simply a display of diplomatic incompetence. A lawyer never asks a question in court that he or she does not already know the answer to and a diplomat never publicly makes a demand of a government without already knowing what the position of that government will be.
When Australia publicly stated that the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin could refuel and use Australian ports despite the demand, this was very embarrassing to Japan and the whaling industry lost a great deal of face because of Inwood. But they can't fire him without losing more face for admitting that they made a mistake in hiring him. Inwood's job seems secure and that's fine with us. We like him where he is. I love having an opponent who is constantly choking himself with his socks.And I've taken a great deal of amusement from Inwood's silly rhetoric. He has called us pirates (we don't mind that, we are indeed eco-pirates) and he has called us criminals although we've never been convicted of a crime but when he called us "crazy vegan circus performers" we had a great laugh.
Last week he compared our fight with the whalers to a man beating his wife when he said "It is the same argument about a husband battering his wife, you know, he was forced to hit her. It is no argument at all," he said.
Comparing a man beating his wife to a whaling fleet violently slaughtering a thousand whales is of course ludicrous but this is the Ronald Regan school of public relations where you compare everything to something the majority of people can identify with. Put in a proper context, if a man saw his wife about to murder their children then there would indeed be an argument for hitting her. He would in fact be morally forced to hit her.
In the latest drivel from Inwood he described me as a "paranoid schizophrenic." I didn't realize that Glen was practicing psychiatry without a license. But the voices inside of my head told me to ignore him or else he would be out to get me, oh I forgot, he is out to get me, or is he?
He's also feeling pretty pleased with himself on his latest tactic of constantly referring to the Steve Irwin as a Dutch ship. In every release he stresses the Dutch flag. This is meant of course to intimidate the Netherlands so they will strike our flag. The Japanese think that if we can't fly a flag on our ship they will neutralize us and they have indeed influenced Canada, Britain, the Cayman Islands and Belize to strike our flags but I believe that the Dutch have more integrity and in the words of Captain Barbosa of the Black Pearl are "not inclined to acquiesce" to Japanese demands.
The Hague does not take their orders from Tokyo and if they decide that our behaviour does not qualify us to fly their tricolour then we will respect their decision, but it will not stop us from continuing to intercept and harass the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese whaling fleet.
I saw Glen Inwood at the IWC meeting in Santiago last year. I never talked with him. He always stood on or walked to the other side of the room from me. What I do remember is that whenever I looked at him, he averted his eyes and looked away. That told me everything I needed to know.