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Belmont Club

Caveat Empty

March 13th, 2014 - 4:32 pm

Memolition has a post asking if the reader can name the ten worst mass murderers in history. Take the test. Write your answer down on a piece of paper and click the link to check your score.

The big surprise for most people is finding King Leopold II of Belgium at number 4, below Hitler and above Hideki Tojo. The idea that little Belgium’s monarch could have killed more people than Tojo will shock a great many.

And they were black people too. The enduring image of Leopold’s African empire were The Hands.

The Force Publique (FP) was called in to enforce the rubber quotas. The officers were white agents of the State. Of the black soldiers, many were from far-off peoples of the upper Congo while others had been kidnapped during the raids on villages in their childhood and brought to Roman Catholic missions, where they received a military training in conditions close to slavery. Armed with modern weapons and the chicotte—a bull whip made of hippopotamus hide—the Force Publique routinely took and tortured hostages, flogged, and raped Congolese people. They also burned recalcitrant villages, and above all, took human hands as trophies on the orders of their officers to show that bullets hadn’t been wasted. (As officers were concerned that their subordinates might waste their ammunition on hunting animals for sport, they required soldiers to submit one hand for every bullet spent.)

Of course none of this will be news to those who’ve read the Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Conan Doyle’s The Crime of the Congo.  Doyle is still read these days, but mostly for his fiction: Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger.

Joseph Conrad may be politically incorrect these days, probably for having written the Nigger of the Narcissus, where the black guy is actually the hero of the story. “In the United States, the novel was first published with the title The Children of the Sea: A Tale of the Forecastle, at the insistence by the publisher, Dodd, Mead and Company, that no one would buy or read a book with the word nigger in its title, not because the word was deemed offensive but that a book about a black man would not sell.”

What the book actually says won’t help Conrad. These days people get to the N word and stop reading. In 1995 the NYT reported a lawsuit against an online encyclopedia by a man who found Conrad’s novel listed.

The plaintiff, Thomas D. Wallace of Omaha, says he and his sons suffered emotional distress after finding the word “nigger” in the Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia, published by Compton’s Newmedia of Carlsbad, Calif. The suit also names Compton’s owner, the Tribune Company of Chicago, and Best Buy, the store that sold Mr. Wallace the software. … citing ‘The Nigger of the Narcissus,’ the novel by Joseph Conrad.

Mr. Wallace should have searched “King Leopold the II” if he really wanted to get incensed.  But I wouldn’t blame Mr. Wallace too much.

A few months ago I attended a talk by an Australian journalist who summarized a book describing, among other things, the campaign of Gough Whitlam in 1972. Whitlam was the first major Australian poltician to campaign for the prime ministership through advertising methods. He hired the ad agency responsible for selling Johnny Walker whiskey to handle his campaign.

The agency told him that Johnny Walker had captured a dominant market share of whiskey in Australia while dozens of other brands struggled for the meager remainder. Yet in blind test after blind test, nobody could tell the difference between Johnny Walker and the other brands. They told Whitlam the secret of their success: ‘we sell the label, not the whiskey’. They explained that what’s in the bottle doesn’t matter, it’s the packaging that counts.

And so it may be with genocidaires. We don’t remember mass murderers on the basis of the facts. Hitler is remembered as bad like Che is revered as good; pop culture recalls Leopold not at all and Bull Connor as a Republican, not because of any fact, but because what of what today’s distracted, overloaded public sees — or didn’t see — on a T-shirt. Perhaps the saddest quiz on the Internet is this: “was Hitler a Democrat or a Republican?”

By the way, Gough Whitlam became the 21st Prime Minister of Australia.


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Top Rated Comments   
Forgive an old sailor a quibble. There is no such thing as 'merchant marines'. There is an industry called the Merchant Marine, i.e. merchant of the sea, but no 'marines' of merchant nature.

Also, the merchant sailors really do not use the word 'rank'. A ship's master is called captain and wears four strips when he deigns to wear anything approaching a uniform. His progress up from the deck plates is measured by passing very, very rigorous examinations, being issued the appropriate license at each step, and earning the trust of the shipping companies management.

That was true for Conrad as well as today's merchant sailor.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some years ago when I was in a dry spell a friend arranged for me to serve on a product testing panel for a marketing firm bringing a new brand of vodka into the country. For that afternoon I was for something less than $50 ex cathedra an expert on vodka. My fellow panelists were as far as I know equally as unqualified and glad for the gig as I was. Our opinions on the associations brought to mind by Smirnoff, Kettle, Grey Goose and Stoly were respectfully elicited. Everything was done correctly. There was a blind taste test before the new product was revealed. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of the stuff.

Are there no lawyers who can sue Mr. Wallace for the distress he has caused to thousands of employees of the firms he is threatening? There are laws regarding "Restraint of Trade" and even the customers of the products he would censor would I think have a case against him for his attempt to force them to accept an inferior product.

One of my proudest possessions is a copy of "Mein Kampf" that was published and sold in America during WW-II. The publisher Houghton Mifflin wanted to make it available, despite wartime rationing of paper, to prove a point. We knew what we were fighting for and we were not afraid.

The latest faux outrage campaign is an effort by fascist feminists to boss people into not saying "bossy." This follows their declaring it racist to call them racists. Next I expect to hear them bullying people into not calling them bullies. Once they can control your ability to complain there is no controlling them at all.
"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
THE LIMESTONE COWGIRL

Caveat Empty, with one little tap of the space bar, becomes Cave At Empty, which describes the current limestone built White House. Obama’s handlers thought they were building a Rhinestone Cowboy and instead we got a Limestone Cowgirl.

How deep the cave of limestone walls
How dark the stygian gloom
With ballroom dancers without balls
Infesting every room
The ceiling drips with stalactites
The curtains closed and drawn
While rabid bats inflict their bites
And disappear at dawn
The world slips by to much disdain
The Cave it pays no mind
Intent are they inflicting pain
And causing wounds that bind
The poorest of the poor to them
The women whom they gave
The right to kiss the purple hem
Of cowgirl in the cave
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (20)
All Comments   (20)
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I don't know that that chart is accurate. IIRC, Imperial Japan killed some 8 million Manchurians; the Rape of Nanking alone was about 250,000-300,000. [Warning: graphic photos at link.]

http://www.nanking-massacre.com/RAPE_OF_NANKING_OR_NANJING_MASSACRE_1937.html
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very intense bit of history.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
An old Lefty friend of mine has an 18-year-old son who has a big (2 x 4') Mao poster hanging on his bedroom wall. I was sickened to see it. When the war in Afghanistan started in 2002, she and her professor husband sublet their townhouse in Manhattan and decamped to Prince Edward Island in Canada to make sure their son could dodge the draft that they were sure was in the offing.

Humans will believe, quite literally, anything.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
http://www.amazon.com/Black-Rage-William-H-Grier/dp/1579103499

Black Rage:

The first book to examine the full range of black life from the vantage point of psychiatry, this widely acclaimed work has established itself as the classic statement of the desperation, conflicts, and anger of black life in America today. Black Rage tells of the insidious effects of the heritage of slavery; describes love, marriage, and the family; addresses the sexual myths and fears of blacks and...

I remember leafing through this book in a Bookstore in San Francisco in the Seventies.

More recently, I heard the author's son, the Hilarious David Allen Grier relate how dad moved out, went to San Francisco, bought a dashiki, and milked it for all it was worth.

http://www.npr.org/2012/05/22/152848779/david-alan-griers-sporting-life-on-broadway

In 1935, George Gershwin brought the script for his folk opera Porgy and Bess to the opera's original cast, which was entirely made up of African-American actors. "[In the original], every other word was N-word this, N-word that," says actor David Alan Grier. "[And] there's a very famous story: Al Jolson really wanted to play Porgy, in blackface."

Grier, who plays Sporting Life in the new Broadway adaptation of Porgy and Bess, says the original company got together and told Gershwin that changes needed to be made. "[They] said, 'Look, we have to cut out these racial epithets,' " he says. "So the piece has always evolved and changed. ... There is a lot of history surrounding this piece and infused in the piece that's very interesting to me."

The version of Porgy and Bess that Grier stars in is not without its own controversy. Before the adaptation premiered, Stephen Sondheim wrote a letter in The New York Times accusing the creators of arrogance and dishonoring the creators' original intentions. The next day, Grier went to his fellow cast mates for a meeting.

"And I said, 'Listen, I don't know who this Steven Soderbergh is, but I've never liked his films, and I didn't even know he was an opera fan,' " he says, laughing. "So I told Audra [McDonald, who plays Bess] that, and she fell down laughing."

'Porgy And Bess': Messing With A Classic
Getting more serious, Grier says Sondheim's letter didn't get him down.

"I was titillated and excited because that is what theater is supposed to do," he says. "I didn't think people would get this excited and heated over a simple musical production. I want to be in that production.

I think there were 400 comments on that article. At the end of the day, it was a letter in response to an article about a production that no one had seen and had not even opened. At the end of the day, I felt confidence in what we were doing..."
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
I like the internet quiz. It gets the answer right: Was Hitler a Democrat or Republican. He was neither, he was a socialist.

"Progressive" would have worked just as well.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
The interesting thing about MH370 (to me) is that it occurred at hand-off.

Malay was telling them: "Contact Ho Chi Mihn Center at 129.6, or whatever.
Mh370 would repeat 129.6. Thank you and goodnight.

That would be the last contact with Malaysia, and they would expect the transponder to disappear, as Ho Chi Mihn would give them a new "squawk" .
They did NOT contact Ho Chi Mihn.

At this point, there is a large span of time where they do NOT need to be talking to anyone. Mayay-Center has released them to Ho Chi Mihn, whom they have not contacted

They turned the transponders off.

They disengaged the auto-pilot and went their own way.
The ACARS says the engines ran for another 4 hours. Where did they fly to, and what is the fate of the PAX?

When, IF, this is ever explained, it will be a GOOD story.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
They Landed on Diego Garcia, confiscated a bunch of 2,000 lb bombs, hired some Chagossians to load them in the cargo hold, refueled, and took off for parts unknown.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm pretty much of that mind. Whether this was a single individual, e.g. suicidal pilot, locked the co-pilot out, and took the aircraft down to 300 feet to fly it to where it would never be found, or an orchestrated terrorist group (or terrorist nation state), what happened was no accident.

The crash of the French aircraft a few years back over the Atlantic comes close to this, but they were in a massive storm and remained on course. This was something else entirely - foul play in the simplest terms, premeditated, and a well thought out plan.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jon Ostrower @jonostrower 1h

Each ping that came from the 777's SATCOM included GPS, altitude and speed data http://on.wsj.com/1fuZM8d #MH370


Jon Ostrower ‏@jonostrower 1h

We don't know where #MH370 last pinged Inmarsat's satellite constellation, but there certainly are people who do. http://on.wsj.com/1fuZM8d
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Earlier today I looked at the Memolition page. What the comments thread demonstrates is its success as pure lunatic troll bait. The horse race is between those who want Uncle Sam in the dock and those plumping for charging God, with the collective House of Windsor coming for Show. My hope is that God takes notes for future reference.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some years ago when I was in a dry spell a friend arranged for me to serve on a product testing panel for a marketing firm bringing a new brand of vodka into the country. For that afternoon I was for something less than $50 ex cathedra an expert on vodka. My fellow panelists were as far as I know equally as unqualified and glad for the gig as I was. Our opinions on the associations brought to mind by Smirnoff, Kettle, Grey Goose and Stoly were respectfully elicited. Everything was done correctly. There was a blind taste test before the new product was revealed. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of the stuff.

Are there no lawyers who can sue Mr. Wallace for the distress he has caused to thousands of employees of the firms he is threatening? There are laws regarding "Restraint of Trade" and even the customers of the products he would censor would I think have a case against him for his attempt to force them to accept an inferior product.

One of my proudest possessions is a copy of "Mein Kampf" that was published and sold in America during WW-II. The publisher Houghton Mifflin wanted to make it available, despite wartime rationing of paper, to prove a point. We knew what we were fighting for and we were not afraid.

The latest faux outrage campaign is an effort by fascist feminists to boss people into not saying "bossy." This follows their declaring it racist to call them racists. Next I expect to hear them bullying people into not calling them bullies. Once they can control your ability to complain there is no controlling them at all.
"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Big surprise that Leopold II of the Belgians, not of Belgium as this was officially the king of the Netherlands = Latin Belgium, who never set a foot on African soil could have been a dictator responsible of millions of sacrifices being a year away of the necessary direct control. Dunlop invented and produced the inflatable tire and the bicycle was one of the greatest economic hits in the Western Countries in the late 19th century. So even wild rubber (latex), there were no plantations of hevea available at that period of time, were profitable. This was exploited in the remotest jungle country of Afrca for a period of about 10 years. Later on South-East Asian plantations, free of the usual South-American bugs and infestations, produced the bulk of the world demand for rubber. Since there are no records of population in the Congo (officially till 1939) and local labor was necessary to 'harvest' the latex and the area was scarcely populated it would have been foolish to exterminate those, who could contribute to the profits realized in Europe and North-America. Leopold II was an unsavourly character and opportunist but not a real dictator. The figures of victims are out of proportion of all demografic scientifically observed evolutions. Propaganda is not science.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
THE LIMESTONE COWGIRL

Caveat Empty, with one little tap of the space bar, becomes Cave At Empty, which describes the current limestone built White House. Obama’s handlers thought they were building a Rhinestone Cowboy and instead we got a Limestone Cowgirl.

How deep the cave of limestone walls
How dark the stygian gloom
With ballroom dancers without balls
Infesting every room
The ceiling drips with stalactites
The curtains closed and drawn
While rabid bats inflict their bites
And disappear at dawn
The world slips by to much disdain
The Cave it pays no mind
Intent are they inflicting pain
And causing wounds that bind
The poorest of the poor to them
The women whom they gave
The right to kiss the purple hem
Of cowgirl in the cave
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Reminds me of an old magazine article on management types. It had one they defined as "the tap dancer." A tap dancer would always look good and be busy and would seem to be in motion but would never do anything to avoid mistakes that would make them look bad, of course eventually it would come out that they were useless so the brighter ones would springboard to another company for higher pay before their department collapsed.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
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