“Subteranean” Homesick Blues

Late last month, FAIR did a quick criticism of an article by Time magazine’s Alex Perry, where he implied that Congolese dictator Mobutu was a “gift to the world” from the people of the Congo–in other words, he’s claiming Mobutu was elected by a free and independent country, and that his notorious reign is the fault of the people who elected him. This is factually inaccurate–when Congo was free, they elected Patrice Lumumba prime minister, but neo-colonial business interests didn’t like Lumumba, so the US (via the CIA) and Belgium helped get Lumumba ousted and later executed, and Mobutu was installed and propped up by those same groups. This is well-documented history.

Alex Perry, however, took exception to FAIR’s critique, and responded to them in an online temper tantrum where he denied the reality of American involvement in Congo. As other commenters produced verifiable facts to disprove him, Perry’s retorts became more like a temper tantrum, and he ultimately began to show signs of psychological projection; at one point, he misspelled “subterranean” (hence the title of this post), then started heckling other posters, whose comments were far calmer than Perry’s, for alleged misspellings. The nicer and more genuine the attempts to correct Perry’s apparent misunderstanding (if that’s what it was), the pissier and more accusatory he got.

‘A Tiny Revolution’ blogger Jonathan Schwarz did an even better job, quoting examples of Time magazine skewering its coverage of Congo and Lumumba as far back as 1960. I responded to the other commenters with my own take, which you can read if you scroll down to the bottom of that article. But before you do that, I would strongly advise reading up on the history of the US in the Congo. Below are some links I stole borrowed from posters on both blogs. While this is by no means a complete history, it should give you a rough understanding of the issue.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/01/patrice-lumbaba-congo-editorial

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/29/congo_s_new_mobutu

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/leading-article-congo–africas-disaster-2013789.html

http://www.udel.edu/global/agenda/2003/student/readings/CIAlumumba.html

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/doubleissue/mysteries/patrice.htm

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field%28DOCID+zr0011%29

Oddly, at the top of this page is a warning that says:

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The temporary file will be purged from our system in a few hours.

The allegedly temporary file still up there, as of July 5th, 2ishPM EDT

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