Tintin in the Congo: a racist book, really?!


One of Tintin's adventures comics (Tintin in the Congo) is pulled off library borrowing shelves after NY readers complain. No, it is not mentioned at all whether the NY readers are Congolese. I reckon one doesn't have to be a victim to feel offended by the alleged racist book.

I myself try to recall whether I have read this particular book. Tintin in the Congo. Hmm...So glad that our National Library Board have not followed the herd & simply banned the book. It's still available at these library branches.

According to Wikipedia entry on this particular series, Tintin in the Congo, the author Hergé regretted this album and regarded it as a "youthful sin". Okay, so perhaps he admitted his guilt.

Anyway, this is not a new issue altogether. On 12 Jul 2007, Britain's equality watchdog namely The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) had expressed their outrage against Tintin in the Congo.

A spokesman for CRE (who wisely chose to be nameless) was quoted to say:
"This book contains imagery and words of hideous racial prejudice, where the 'savage natives' look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles.

"It beggars belief that in this day and age Borders would think it acceptable to sell and display Tintin In The Congo. High street shops, and indeed any shops, ought to think very carefully about whether they ought to be selling and displaying it."

From Telegraph.co.uk, "Ban 'racist' Tintin book, says CRE".

Meanwhile, it's apparent that there are equally many readers who disagree that Tintin in the Congo is racist.

Michael Meyers had commented rightly. Here are the excerpts of what he said:
By placing a racist illustrated book, "Tin Tin Au Congo," behind locked doors, and making it available only upon request and appointment, the Brooklyn Public Library is sending the wrong message about how to deal with controversial works.

We blacks, of course, know racially offensive images when we see them, but we also don't need librarians protecting us or our children's wonderment and discovery from "bad" images and messages in books. Where would such paternalism in the forms of censorship and banishment begin and end? Will the librarians also banish "Huckleberry Finn," Mark Twain's classic work, on account that Twain's book uses the "n" word too many times? Would some parents' or scanners' objections to "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" also hold sway and place that book under lock and key, too? Our children, black and white, deserve better.

We shouldn't try to hide unpleasant truths from our children. It is historical fact that white racialists colonized Africa, and that explorers and even missionaries thought of black Africans as primitive savages in need of civilizing. Similar tales of the white man's so-called burden were depicted in films of enormous cultural value, such as Tarzan movies, not to mention "Gone With The Wind" and "Birth of a Nation." Even Saturday morning cartoons on TV are full of stereotypical cats and dogs and color-coded good and bad characters. Westerns, still a staple on cable TV, have the black hats and the white hats, and a full array of Indians as savages.

From NY Daily News, "Free Tin Tin! Brooklyn Public Library made a big mistake when it put racist book in a locked room".

It might be a comic but some readers didn't find it that funny.

Brooklyn's head librarian has ordered Tintin Au Congo off shelves in some branches after customer complaints.

The nearly 80-year-old book is the only book in the city library system hidden from public view after a reader complained that it was 'racially offensive', reported the New York Daily News yesterday.

The popular Belgian children's work - due to be made into a movie by Steven Spielberg - is locked behind a series of hidden doors on the third floor of Brooklyn's central library.

Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan said it had been relocated as it had illustrations that were racially offensive and inappropriate for children.

The curious have to make an appointment to see the original Georges (Herge) Remi piece. The next available date was Monday morning, said a library official.

Ms Donna Lieberman, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, blasted librarians 'for taking the easy way out' and not considering the 'long term in engaging in censorship'.

Looking at a recent reprint of the 1930 cartoon from a Brussels newspaper, Mr Marcus Ramirez, 26, a security guard from the Bronx, agreed: 'It's art, it's an expression. Other people get offended? I don't see why.'

Spielberg isn't offended either.

The famed filmmaker will put Tintin on the big screen in 2011, highlighting the adventures of the young reporter who travels the world with his dog, Snowy.

Herge was a Belgian enthusiast who pushed a pro-colonial message as Tintin taught confused natives right from wrong during his travels to foreign lands.

Even Snowy the dog insults a young Congolese boy, telling Tintin that the child 'doesn't look very bright'.

Library officials across the city said they have debated pulling about 25 books - including Godless: The Church Of Liberalism by Ann Coulter and a Harold Robbins novel - and DVDs from city shelves, but rejected the requests.

Only Tintin was blacklisted in Brooklyn - and quietly yanked from the shelves in 2007.

'Racism is relevant,' said Brooklyn resident Karina Estedan, 28, who agrees the book should be locked away. 'The public library caters to the sensitivity of the community. People are trying to erase the mistakes of the past.'

From The New Paper, "80-year old Tintin book racially offensive".

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