History repeats Itself more or less. Why? Because those who are the players at any given time and place have forgotten to learn from what went before. In those who set out to add new territories for the crown only profit, power, prestige and the present mattered. The victors were those who cut and ran. What of the losers then? The losers always imitate their oppressors.
Take Africa for example. From the brutalities that are reported in Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and other places what are we to make of?
The Belgians ruled the Congo with a brutal hand. A missionary, Edward Sjoblom, arrived in the Congo in 1892 and wrote of his experiences. He was travelling by steamship to choose a suitable location for a mission station. On his very first day, he witnessed a flogging with a hippo hide whip. The white men on board all agreed that “only the whip can civilise the black.”
A missionary, E J Glave, wrote in his diary that the natives must be treated “with the utmost severity… they cannot be handled by coaxing but must be ruled by force.” In 1895, Glave returned to the Congo and came across scenes of revolting brutality. Here is an example:
“The chicotte (whip) of raw hippo hide, trimmed like a corkscrew and with edges like knife blades is a terrible weapon. A few blows bring our blood. We persuade ourselves that an African’s skin is very tough. At the first blow, the victim yells horribly; then quietens down into a groaning. After 25 or 30 blows, the victim loses his senses. This punishment is far worse when inflicted on women and children. Small boys of 10 or 12 working for hot tempered masters are often most harshly treated.”
In the past: a Belgian who holds a whip thinks he is civilized enough to use it. He does it for his king and his country. Now we see more or less a similar mindset in an American neocon. Can precision bombing usher in democracy to Iraq?