King Leopold II was the king of Belgium from 1865 to 1909. He is relatively unknown in the U.S., probably because the U.S. and Belgium never went to war against each other. But he is still some kind of criminal – and if not a war criminal, he is certainly guilty of enslavement. From 1885 to 1908, the people of the Congo were enslaved and forced to work at rubber plantations. Slaves were brutally punished if they did not make their quota. People died of murder, disease, exhaustion, and starvation. One form of punishment was to remove a slave’s right hand. It has been estimated that roughly 10 million people died during king Leopold’s colonizing reign of terror. After 1908, power over the Congo was taken from king Leopold II and granted to another area of the Belgian government due to international outrage. Unfortunately, slavery – in more subtle forms – still continued for decades.
This is a re-blog. Reagan tolerated apartheid and vetoed the Anti-Apartheid Act in 1985, but mostly to support the anticommunist government that was in power.
Before Congressional Republicans in the U.S. lionized Nelson Mandela, they despised him. And they opposed not just the great freedom fighter himself but the entire anti-apartheid movement. Even worse, they took actions that damaged the cause of equality in South Africa. Not for nothing did Bishop Desmond Tutu call Ronald Reagan’s policy towards the country “immoral, evil and totally un-Christian.” Conservative Americans’ pro-apartheid actions are not just shameful history—they are similar, in some ways, to their actions to rid the world of political Islam.
The Kennedy administration had opposed the Afrikaner government, instituting an arms embargo on the country. Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon, conversely, muted criticism of the regime and opened channels of communications, in order to defeat the Soviets in the Third World. As part of his human rights-focused foreign policy, Jimmy Carter reversed course, imposed restrictions and sanctions on the apartheid government, which Mandela and his party…
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