Steve Heronemus

Hey, Rudy, Colonialism is Bad!

“America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani went on another anti-Obama rant last week at a non-campaign campaign event for Wisconsin Governor and possible 2016 presidential candidate Scott Walker. Giuliani accused President Obama of, among other things, not loving America and being anti-colonialist. Although that’s not Obama’s fault, according to Rudy. He just grew up with the the wrong people.

Well, Rudy, here’s a pop quiz for you. Who is history’s worst mass murderer? Pol Pot of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge is small potatoes at 2,000,000. Hitler’s Holocaust claimed 6 million lives to make this podium of infamy while Stalin comes in at second place with 7 million dead in the wake of his subjugation of the USSR.

But none of these compare with the ignominious answer to our quiz, King Leopold II of Belgium, who oversaw the murder of some 10-15 million Africans. After convincing Parliment of his intentions to give Christianity to the natives while taking riches back to enhance the stature of little Belgium he was granted a parcel of land in central Africa. Leopold became the largest private landowner in the world, being deeded over 900,000 square miles. That’s an area the size of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oregon put together. Rubber plantations sprang up everywhere, villagers that refused this forced labor were massacred and their homes burned to the ground. Those who didn’t make quotas were killed, those who didn’t kill had their hands amputated. Leopold became the richest man in the world by supplying rubber to burgeoning industries across Europe and America. Such is the way of colonialism.

These tactics of terror should sound familiar. Fighters in civil wars throughout central Africa and terrorist organizations like Boko Haram have used them to great effect. They use these tactics because the First World taught them.

Our schools don’t teach our children about the atrocities of Leopold or how colonial powers in Africa left the continent uneducated, unprepared for self-government, and without vital infrastructure. We also don’t teach them about our often violent land grabs to resettle freed slaves and other black people into what is now Liberia.

Colonialism didn’t end in the 20th century, either. We certainly don’t teach them about the corporate colonialism that continues to this day. For instance, Firestone has owned a 200 square mile rubber plantation in Liberia for 90 years. In that time, Firestone has only recently begun putting electricity in the 1-room shacks they have as workers’ housing. Clean water is also a recent development but there is still no sewer system and the adjacent river is polluted from plant runoff. The standard of living is no different for Firestone workers than the average Liberian, one of the world’s poorest countries. Firestone have made no attempt to manufacture any value-added product in Liberia that would improve their workers’ standard of living and improve the country’s economy. We’re still raping the continent for its raw materials.

Another company was started in the last decade next to the Firestone plantation to produce biomass chips (charcoal) from non-producing rubber trees. Private and US government investment money launched the venture, which also was to build an electric plant fueled by the biomass chips. The plant was never built and the chips were exported to Europe. Excess wood was “sold” to local women in a systematic, daily procedure in exchange for sex. The resulting scandal caused private investors to pull out and the company went bankrupt. The American management got paid while the Liberian workers are still owed back pay.

Rudy, all black lives matter. Our neglect in raising our children with an understanding of the evils of 1st world domination and economic subjugation contribute to our continuing apathy towards events in sub-Saharan Africa. That apathy cost 800,000 Rwandan lives in a”tribal” dispute between Hutus and Tutsis, tribal distinctions that were arbitrarily fabricated by colonial masters to create ruling and subjugated classes. That apathy let Boko Haram get a 3-week head start in hiding or selling over 280 schoolgirls before we paid attention. That apathy leads to continuing human rights abuses perpetrated by “peacekeepers” and NGOs.

So, Rudy, I hope to God that President Obama is anti-colonial and I am deeply disappointed that you apparently are not. Colonialism is an oppressive, dehumanizing system that devalues human life in exchange for wealth. I am a middle-aged white male who has taught my children to be anti-colonial. Go ahead and call me anti-American if you want. If that means my children weren’t raised the way you were the world is better for it.