I realized that in spite of the monotonous coverage of this attack by all the media outlets, history did not begin yesterday.
What has been lost in the Eurocentric coverage of this atrocity is the historic fact and context that King Leopold II of Belgium was responsible for the deaths and mutilation of between 5 million to 10 million Congolese during the late 1800’s. In the 27 years (1885-1912) Leopold II ruled the Congo he overworked, underfed and massacred Africans by cutting off their hands and genitals, flogging them to death, holding children ransom and burning villages. All of this to control the land, its people and extract its resources (primarily rubber). The spoils of modern day Belgium owes much to the people of the Congo River Basin.
As the world cries and morns for those who lost their lives and were injured in the Belgian bombings and their families and loved ones, who cried for Leopold’s victims; their families and loved ones? History did not begin yesterday.
As I think about the atrocities in France and pray for the victims and their families I think about the actions of France in the colonization of Vietnam, Algeria and Haiti. All of these countries have been victimized by the colonial and imperialist forces of France.
History Did NOT Begin Yesterday Cont.
Vietnam or what was formerly a part of French Indo-China was victimized by three waves of French genocide. From as far back as 1850 France occupied Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. From 1940-1946 the Vichy French Colonial Army running its colonies for the Japanese Imperial Army aided the confiscation of rice for export to Japan and starved up to a million Vietnamese during that period and from 1950 - 1954 fresh French troops, brought back into Vietnam in U.S. ships, murdered Vietnamese for eight years.
One must never forget the French massacres in what was known as French Algeria from 1954 through 1961 in which some 960,00 - 1.5 million Algerians died in the Algerian War for Independence.In Haiti In 1791, the slaves revolted against French rule, and in 1804 they defeated Napoleon's armies and founded the world's first black republic. This victory was not without a cost. Former French slave owners demanded reparations for their losses and petitioned the French government for payment. In 1825, King Charles X of France demanded that Haiti pay the French for the value of their lost slaves. Haiti was also forced to finance this debt through the Frech bank.
France sent warships off the cost of Haiti to force the Haitian government into compliance. This was similar to the tactic used by the United States to capture the Sandwich Islands or what is now Hawaii in 1893.
Despite many international claims that France repay Haiti for the funds that were extorted; France refuses to this day as Haiti and Haitians continue to suffer.
This historical accounting and context is in no way an attempt to validate or justify the recent heinous attacks but they like all things must be examined within the broader historical context in which they exist.
In talking about the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963, Malcolm X talked about a “climate of hate” existing in both the domestic and international spheres. If America, France, Belgium and other allied countries are serious about solving the scourge of terrorism, they are going to have to do some real sour searching and determine how they have contributed to this “cultural global warming” or “climate of hate”. You cannot defeat an ideology with a military. You can only defeat an ideology with a better ideology.
To find long-lasting solutions to this current situation, one must remember that history has a long moral arc and it did not begin yesterday.
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com
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