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March 20, 2010

Off your meds, I presume


When I first learned of objections to the restoration of a bronze statue memorializing Henry Morton Stanley I assumed such objections were based in post-colonial ideology, Congolese nativist fascism and the generalized, low-grade anti-British grievance children of British immigrants come to expect in, for example, Canada.

But it turns out Henry Morton Stanley was a psycho.

Stanley led a peculiar life, filled with name changes and hopes to make it big. Born in Denbigh, a small Welsh market town, his birth certificate designated him a "bastard". He travelled to America and by several accounts never consummated his marriage because of a great fear of women. Later a Daily Telegraph journalist with a moustache he blackened daily, he was spurred into colonial adventure with a sadistic twist. He once cut off his dog's tail, cooked it and fed it back to the dog. By the time he took on the Congo, he had already lain waste to dozens of towns on the exotic island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at March 20, 2010 08:48 AM


He did impact the history of the Congo... but that impact appears to be mainly negative.

If you're going to have to honor him at all, do what West Point did for Benedict Arnold and leave the plinth empty save rank and date of birth. (In West Point's case it is a plaque and not a statue.)

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 20, 2010 08:40 PM