Imperialism versus Islamists

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Sep 30 09:04:35 MDT 2001

Am not at home this weekend, so I don't have access to my scanner.
Otherwise, I'd be posting large passages from Adam Hochschild's "King
Leopold's Ghost", one of the finest books I've seen in a number of years.

It turns out that there was a Mahdist revolt in Sudan back in 1885. These
Muslim fundamentalists killed the British governor general and rebuffed a
British expeditionary force sent against them. Since England was bogged
down with other colonial wars, they had to retreat from the Sudan.

They contacted King Leopold, who had already taken control over the Congo.
He dispatched Stanley of "Dr. Livingstone, I presume" fame with a division
of British mercernaries to head north from Congo to rescue a British
governor Emin Pasha.

Despite the mideast name, Emin was a German Jew named Eduard Schnitzer who
was more interested in collecting specimens for the British museum than
fighting off the Mahdists. Stanley's mission was an utter fiasco, out of
Werner Herzog's "Aguirre, Wrath of God".

His chief officer Major Edmund Barttelot went mad and saw traitors on all
sides. "He jabbed at Africans with a steel-tipped cane, ordered several
dozen people put in chains, and bit a village woman. An African shot and
killed Barttelot before he could do more."

Stanley's force was utterly barbaric, as evidenced by this journal entry of
one of his officers:

"It was most interesting, lying in the bush watching the natives quietly at
their day's work. Some women...were making banana flour by pounding up
dried bananas. Men we could see building huts and engaged in other work,
boys and girls running about, singing...I opened the game by shooting one
chap through the chest. He fell like a stone...Immediately a volley was
poured into the village."

The US troops sent to Afghanistan will be following in this hallowed tradition.

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