Evil empires

An attempt to respond (despite my home health challenges) to a Facebook comment about my 7/2/23 posting “SUMC moments: Dutch treat”. That posting included a section on the evils of the Dutch Empire; Tim Evanson then wrote on FB:

Coincidentally, the Belgian Empire just apologized for the rape of the Congo this past week.

Now my response to TE:

From the Wilson Center site, “Author Hochschild Recounts Lost History of Horror in the Belgian Congo” by Mary-Lea Cox on 10/14/99:

When the day of reckoning comes for our era, European colonialism should rank equally with the evils of fascism and communism, said writer Adam Hochschild at an October 14 Director’s Forum. Hochschild bases this assertion on the findings of his award-winning book King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. The book reconstructs the period from 1884 to 1907 when King Leopold II of Belgium occupied the territory that became Zaire and is known today as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to Hochschild, Leopold profited from the Congo’s rubber, ivory and other riches — but at the cost of the lives of some 10 million Congolese. And what is even more appalling, few of us have ever heard of King Leopold, whereas Hitler and Stalin are household names.

Leopold was a genuine moral monster, and it’s hard not to alternately weep and rage on reading Hochschild’s passionate and morally informed account of Leopold’s negligently having his Congolese subjects tortured and executed for failing to live up to the demands made on them by their Belgian overseers.

Note the dates: over 120 years ago, but only now does an apology come from Belgium. Shame, shame.

One Response to “Evil empires”

  1. Sim aberson Says:

    Actually, it was the Dutch king who apologized for slavery – https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-66076562. The Belgian king has not. https://www.brusselstimes.com/582854/netherlands-king-apologises-for-slave-trade-belgium-yet-to-give-formal-apology

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