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Horrors of Racism

Racism is a commonly used word in the twenty first century. Almost everybody in the United States and Europe has given thought to the state-imposed atrocities inflicted on the Jews in Germany and elsewhere in Europe in the twentieth century. Problems between the white and black people of the United States are also borne in mind by the Americans and the Europeans. As a matter of fact, issues between the white and black people of the United States are the first to come to mind as racism is reflected upon, especially in the United States itself.

More people around the world have given thought to European colonial times, however. After all, a great number of places around the world were taken over by the Europeans before those regions were freed from foreign dominance. If invasion and colonialism had been appreciated around the globe, or if the Europeans had managed to care for the people of those regions, the latter would not have sought independence. The reason they sought independence is clear to everyone: the Europeans and the Americans have not always been kind to the people they came to conquer.

Hence, the story of Congo under Leopold is not a truly unique one. In point of fact, the Europeans and Americans are ashamed to recall it, which is the reason why Hochschild must acknowledge the fact that he knew very little about Congo under Leopold before he conducted his research for King Leopold’s Ghost. According to the author, he has known a Belgian diplomat who was also unaware of the true story of Leopold. It may be assumed, therefore, that the story of Congo under the cruel Leopold has been erased from countless books of history.

There are various classifications of racism. Whether it manifests itself due to differences of skin color or religion, racism is certainly a belief that almost the entire world is acquainted with. It is the ‘us versus them’ mindset that Hochschild’s book is meant to vanquish at a time when human rights are discussed day in day out at international conferences. The United Nations was established in the middle of the twentieth century also for the same reason. Now is the time to contemplate the concept of ‘universal brotherhood’ and ‘shared values.

’ Yet, the primitive, racist mindset seems to have been deeply imbedded throughout the history of humanity. By making people feel inferior to themselves, racists have won accolades for themselves. Leopold is known to have been a looter and plunderer. The British colonialists expanded their economy by invading many countries around the globe. Nowadays the United States is blamed for having invaded Afghanistan for its rich opium trade and Iraq for its oil. It is for this reason that racism remains a touchy subject in the United States and Europe.

The Muslim world complains that the United States has tortured and killed numberless people from Muslim countries. The African Americans are still not wholly accepted as real Americans in the United States. While racism continues to manifest itself with all of its well-known, shameful classifications, it is perfectly understandable that the United States and Europe would continue to feign ignorance when it comes to the remembrance of horrific tales about the same that are best forgotten.

After all, the United States and Europe must also continue conducting business with people around the world. By forgetting Congo under Leopold, therefore, the United States and Europe would like to maintain a good reputation among the people that they must conduct trade with. Even so, it is essential to keep Leopold in history books. In fact, the story of Congo under Leopold is as indispensable to know as the Golden Rule that the people of the United States and Europe are sure to remember.

Works Cited

Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold’s Ghost. London: Pan Macmillan, 1998.

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