Friday, July 13, 2007

Questions, questions


Is Tintin in the Congo racist? Yes, undoubtedly. It is, after all, a book written in 1931, by a Belgian, about the Belgian Congo. In a period of history notable for unpleasant politics of all types, the record of the Belgians in the Congo is unusually despicable.
Should it therefore be banned? No, unquestionably. Banning books because they do not meet modern standards is absurd: there are references to slavery in the Bible, homosexuals are tortured in Dante's Inferno, the Koran endorsees the subjugation of women. All are reflections of the period in which they are writted and should be read with that in mind.
There is another book of course, set in the same country as Tintin in the Congo, which regards Africans as unenlightened savages, has as a focal character a man who delights in the murder of Africans for no reason other than terror, who was praised for his anthropological work that 'proved' that Africans were inferior. In terms of its dealings with Africa and Africans it is far more offensive, not to mention far more influential that Tintin ever was. Does the CRE want to ban Heart of Darkness as well?

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