Writing about web page http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/children/article2062157.ece
This week’s “No Shit, Sherlock” award goes to the Commission for Racial Equality, who realised that George “Herge” Remi’s most controversial work, Tintin In The Congo (published 1930), is racist.
I’ve read neither Congo nor Tintin In The Land Of The Soviets but was well aware that both were a bit dodgy. What I didn’t realise was that the former is available in Borders, despite the CRE’s demand that they ban it.
Yes, with a startling level of bluster for a non-departmental public body, they said:
It beggars belief that in this day and age that any shop would think it acceptable to sell and display ‘Tintin In The Congo.’ The only place that it might be acceptable for this to be displayed would be in a museum, with a big sign saying ‘old fashioned, racist claptrap’.
A CRE spokesperson said that bookshops “ought to think very carefully about whether they ought to be selling and displaying [the book],” which depicts a Congo “where the ‘savage natives’ look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles”.
Now, I’m all for a tolerant, unprejudiced society, but whatever happened to free speech? Indeed, whatever happened to the encouragement of reading ignorant, colonialist propaganda in order to realise the folly of our forebears and, you know, have a good laugh at them?
Borders have removed the book from children’s sections, which is fair enough, but even before this brouhaha Congo, which apparently has only been available in its current form since 2005, came with a disclaimer addressing its potential offensiveness.
I seriously don’t understand the commission’s reasoning for their outburst. Do they actually believe a 77-year-old cartoon is capable of inciting racial hatred? It’s a little patronising. Well, I wouldn’t rule anything out before I’ve actually read the thing, but I like to think my liberal instincts are pretty robust.
No doubt sales of this curiosity will defy the rant and shoot up in the next few weeks (particularly at Borders). Meanwhile, if rumours are to be believed, the CRE are currently investigating the dubious racial stereotyping in Oliver Twist and Othello.