By Raymond Lutz
February 23, 2009 (El Cajon)--Is a bad name the same as a bad reputation? Let's face it, the name Blackwater was a massive PR mistake from the get go. Not only a nickname for the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina, it also means water laced with human feces. The name translated to Spanish "agua negro" literally means sewage. But the name worked in one respect: It attracted disenchanted gun-slingers and neo-con opportunists like flies. CIA black-ops Cofer Black, Blackwater VP, felt right at home, as did Ken Starr, continuing his anti-Whitewater obsession by adopting the opposite -- Blackwater -- as a client.
Now it seems Blackwater considers itself to be an innocent bystander, not responsible for ruthless slaughters and missteps in Iraq, Potrero, Otay Mesa, and now Southwestern College. They think the national focus of attention is completely unwarranted. Apparently, their logic is that their problems amount to choosing the wrong name. Fix that, and any PR problems will be gone, they reason.
Unfortunately, they choose a ridiculous name, Xe, Inc., which will require the statement, "pronounced Zee, Inc, the company formerly known as Blackwater."
Homophonous with Zee, a company famous for toilet paper, it seems owner Erik Prince continues to be obsessed with such bathroom talk. I wonder how much their rebranding consultants were paid for this new mistake.
San Diegans, after kicking Blackwater out of Potrero, already know of Blackwater's many false identities -- like Southwest Law Enforcement and Raven Development -- used to avoid detection as they set up their 61,000 Otay Mesa warfare training facility. One more alias isn't going to confuse anyone. Perhaps the new name is an attempt to get back into Iraq. Gee, Zinc doesn't sound like Blackwater, so contracts are okay now, right? Iraqis aren't that stupid and I hope we're not either.
Perhaps Prince should take some tips for gaining obscurity from "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" who changed his identity to the unpronounceable "love symbol number two." Perhaps hate symbol #2 would be better, or something denoting torture or extraordinary rendition, but maybe love symbol #3 would really confuse the issue.
The name change will likely provide no PR benefit; citizens are only reminded of Blackwater subterfuge whenever it is used. Only with the abolishment of such firms -- firms based on Bush-era war-profiteering -- will the scourge be eliminated.
Reputation is more than a name, much more.
Raymond Lutz resides in the El Cajon area, was a candidate for the 77th Assembly District, and operates the web site StopBlackwater.net.
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