Tintin and the Congo


by Ian Mosley

Here’s some more wretched rubbish from the home of political correctness gone mad, the U.K. The Daily Telegraph reports: “The Campaign for Real Education has condemned a publisher as over the top for deciding to package one of cartoon character TinTin’s early adventures, Tintin in the Congo, in shrink-wrap and with a warning about its content. Its criticism comes within weeks of the worldwide release of Steven Spielberg’s new film about the boy reporter and his dog Snowy.”

“George Remi, the Belgian artist better known as Herge, first published his tale of derring-do in Africa in 1930. When he re-worked it in 1946 he removed several references to the Congo being a Belgian colony. But the book still contained a number of images that were perceived as racist. One of these showed a black woman bowing to Tintin and saying `White man very great….”

“Over the decades Herge’s work was excluded from reprints and became so synonymous with racism that in 2004 a spokesman for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government responded to criticism by a Belgian foreign minister by saying: ‘It’s Tintin In The Congo all over again.’ ”

Now what’s worse, a 1930s depiction of the Congo or the Congo’s recent history? One article notes “The Second Congo War, beginning in 1998, devastated the country, involved seven foreign armies and is sometimes referred to as the ‘African World War’. Despite the signing of peace accords in 2003, fighting continues in the east of the country. In eastern Congo, the prevalence of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world. The war is the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II, killing 5.4 million people since 1998. The vast majority died from malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.”

Back to the Telegraph: “Three years later the [British] Commission for Racial Equality claimed the book depicted hideous racial prejudice and said it should be removed from sale. The then Borders chain of bookshops agreed to move it to the adult graphic novels area of its shops, and Waterstones followed suit.”

“Nick Seaton, secretary of the Campaign for Real Education, is perturbed by the restrictions being placed on the book’s sale in the run-up to the release of the Spielberg film The Adventures of Tintin. ‘Most parents will think this is over the top,’ he claimed. ‘As long as children understand times have changed it seems ridiculous to separate this book into the adult section. Much of children’s literature is extremely graphic and sexually explicit these days and no one seems to bother about that.’”

I wonder if this highly publicized PC flap is intended to give some free publicity to Spielberg’s latest movie. That might explain why they are only moving the Tintin books to the adult section rather than doing an old-fashioned liberal book-burning.

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