Sunday, April 24, 2005

Speaking of Morons

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Andre Schorochoff is convinced a conspiracy is afoot to give Belgium a bad name. He cannot think of any other reason why writers, actors and film makers would blame former King Leopold II for the death of millions in the Congo more than 100 years ago.
Bloody hell. First we have the Sino-Japanese rift over whether the Rape of Nanking happened, and now the Belgians are upset that people think Leopold II was a mass murdering bastard, just because he was, well, a mass murdering bastard? Ahem. From Wikipedia:
After a number of unsuccessful schemes for colonies in Africa or Asia, in 1876 he organized a private holding company disguised as an international scientific and philanthropic association. In 1879, under the auspices of the holding company, he hired the famous explorer Henry Morton Stanley to establish a colony in the Congo region. Much diplomatic maneuvering resulted in the Berlin Conference of 1884-85, at which representatives of 14 European countries and the United States recognized Leopold as sovereign of most of the area he and Stanley had laid claim to. On February 5, 1885, the result was the Congo Free State (later the Belgian Congo, then Zaire, and now the Democratic Republic of Congo), an area 76 times larger than Belgium, which Leopold was free to rule as a personal domain.

Reports of outrageous exploitation and widespread human rights abuses (including enslavement and mutilation) of the native population, especially in the rubber industry, led to an international protest movement in the early 1900s. Finally, in 1908, the Belgian parliament compelled the King to cede the Congo Free State to Belgium.

Leopold II is still a controversial figure in the Democratic Republic of Congo; in 2005 his statue was taken down just hours after it was re-erected in the capital, Kinshasa. The Congolese culture minister, Christoph Muzungu decided to reinstate the statue, arguing people should see the positive aspects of the king as well as the negative. But just hours after the six-metre (20 foot) statue was erected in the middle of a roundabout near Kinshasa's central station, it was taken down again, without explanation.
For those who don't know, the Congo Free State (what it was called while it was Leopold's personal plaything) was Joseph Conrad's inspiration for the novel Heart of Darkness, which was of course turned in to the film Apocalypse Now.

Later in this idiot-laden article, we have this brilliant defense, worthy of the Nuremberg trials:
"These attacks ... really get on my nerves," said Pierre Vercauteren, who was born and raised in the Congo where his father went as an army officer in 1926. "It's really in fashion. Obviously there were abuses and excesses -- but which colony didn't commit them?" he asked defiantly.
Well, Pierre, this may be hard to grasp, as you are apparently the only 80-year-old with an IQ below that of a six-year-old. Still, shocking as it may be, just because everyone else did it, doesn't make it right. Did we not have a mother in the Congo? Or are we the bastard child of your father the army officer and some poor rape victim?

Oops. Did I get some bile on you? Sorry, holocaust denial is another one of those hot-button issues for me, I guess.

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