When NYC Held Pirates in High Regard

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Give or take, it is 5,000 miles from the Indian Ocean off Somalia to the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan. That is a vast distance, but few places on earth can match New York for its history of hospitality to pirates.

On Tuesday, the accused Somalian pirate man — or gullible boy, if you believe his parents, or possible victim of kidnappers, as his lawyer speculates — arrived in shackles and jumpsuit for arraignment on charges that he committed piracy on the high seas. Even worse, he is said to have totally bungled the job.

It has been many decades since a good pirate case has landed here, and for now, the laws and penalties are stacked to the skies against the defendant, Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse; gangster capitalism has its limits...

History shows that the city has long held pirates in high regard. Successful ones, that is. Under Col. Benjamin Fletcher, who became the British governor of New York in 1692, piracy was a leading economic development tool in the city’s competition with the ports of Boston and Philadelphia.

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