Mother and Father of Jean Charles de Menezes, Killed by British Police.
The author contends that a Brazilian man killed accidentally by the
British police after the London bombings is just the latest victim of an attitude
taken by 'white colonial masters' toward people of color, and that the United
States in its policies is expressing this same attitude.
A Mother's Grief
In a small red-tiled home at the end of a rutted road in the Brazilian town
of Gonzaga, Jean Charles de Menezes' parents cry silently each night over the
tragic demise of their murdered son. During this ritual, the mother holds a
recent photo of her smiling son, her tears cascading over her weather-beaten
face onto the framed photograph. The mango and orange trees of the nearby farms
have borne silent witness to her mourning since Friday, July 22, when the life
of their innocent son was snuffed out by the London Police.
NEWS VIDEO: Parents, Home Town Mourn Jean Charles de Menezes, July 30, 00:01:07
A routine commute for Jean Charles ended in the never-never land, courtesy of
Her Majesty’s armed police who, in the wake of the recent bombing-attacks
in London, were given shoot-to-kill orders for all Asian-looking suspects. With
five shots to the back of Menezes’s pinned down head at point blank range,
an innocent man was deprived of his youth and his dreams.
NEWS VIDEO: British Police Explain Error of Killing Innocent Man, July 27, 00:03:03
Is it a one-off incident, or is it indicative of a resurgence in the once-thriving
attitude toward people of color? This was an illness when the white man ruled
supreme over a large swath of planet earth. And it is a disease that was never
really cured: call it the Menezes Syndrome.
Perhaps it isn't possible for the white man to get past those bygone days when
the British Empire rose to its pinnacle, showered in the blood of people of
color. That the imperialistic genes are surging again in the white man’s
veins is amply demonstrated by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision to
grab on to the coattails of the latest empire-seeker, the U.S.A., and the decision
of Blair’s people to reelect him and give his imperialistic ventures their
seal of approval.
'Guess I'll Keep 'Em', Leslie's Weekly, 1901
As the British lead their American cousins into the vacuum that their own empire
left behind, the world must come to grips with the white man's method to better
understand the new imperial master.
With open-season having been declared on men of color and the world cringing
at each new atrocity that these international cousins commit against any non-Europeans
still sitting on the leftovers of the planet’s resources, it would be
worth our while to have a brief look at the white man’s imperial past.
The British, who now chaperon the Americans, did not massacre their subjects
because decades later they wanted to make the world safe for democracy. These
crimes happened, as all imperial massacres do, in a frenzy of absolute power.
It occurred because of the sick conviction that all colonial masters have toward
their subjects - that they have the god-given right to decide the course of
history while gorging themselves on the loot from those very same subjects.
Perhaps more urgent is the fact that the British Empire is the most commonly
cited model for the United States, the current overarching world power. America
was an offspring of the Empire’s in the colonial era and is its heir today.
Because in 2005 the United States formally controls a far smaller share of the
world than the United Kingdom did in 1905, it will leave no stone unturned in
extending its writ to a larger slice of the earth as large or larger than its
former master. The British Empire came to greatness by killing millions of defenseless
people. In this respect, the new Empire will not be found wanting.
For centuries, the European white man has plundered and terrorized the non-European
world, treating with contempt people with different skin color, culture, philosophy,
religion, languages and way of life. Conquered nations were expected to give
up their own cultures, religions, even languages and to convert to the set of
beliefs and values defined as “civilized.” In the process, Europeans
brooked no opposition. Any kind of expressed opposition was brutally suppressed.
Today’s terrorist groups are like a bunch of kindergarten kids when compared
to Europe's colonial armies. Using their armies, the white man killed people
of color, terrorized the survivors, and with a reckless abandon justified it
all by calling those they murdered pagans, heathens, savages, cannibals, etc.
The treatment of Aboriginal people at the turn of the 19th century is just
one harrowing illustration of this attitude. The near extermination of Aboriginal
people started in 1804 with an incident near Hobart, Tasmania, when British
soldiers fired on a party of Aboriginal men, women, and children. Some of the
50 or so killed that day were reported to have been salted down and sent to
Sydney as anthropological curiosities.
Perhaps the worst example of white man’s contempt for people of color
is the greatest such human tragedy: the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Tens of
millions of Africans were exported to the Americas by Europeans, many perished
before reaching their destinations. The Atlantic slave trade was a barbarity
of stunning proportions.
In ''Bury the Chains,'' Adam Hochschild says: ''So rapidly were slaves worked
to death, above all on the brutal sugar plantations of the Caribbean, that between
1660 and 1807, ships brought well over three times as many Africans across the
ocean to British colonies as they did Europeans. … the Atlantic was a
vast conveyor belt to early death in the fields of an immense swath of plantations
that stretched from Baltimore to Rio de Janeiro and beyond.'' Ironically, when
a movement to set them free began in Britain, "the air of England is too
pure for a slave to breathe in'' was a phrase coined by detractors to thwart
All European empires built their fortunes by looting the colonies. From gold and
silver to spices and precious stones and human beings, no resource of these lands
was left unplundered. The magnificent European palaces, the museums and theatres,
the cathedrals and municipal buildings - all are built at the expense of the rest
of the planet. All are founded on slavery, and nourished with the blood of slaves.
The smiling, well fed facade of Europe has been built with the sweat and on the
dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians and the yellow races. Jean Charles de Menezes
was just the latest brick in the façade.
As the new Robinson Crusoes continue to pulverize nations and create fiefdoms
for themselves in distant lands populated with “lesser” people of
a darker hue, let the fact be known that every aspect of colonial rule, including
the superficial yet earnest efforts of the Empire builders to study and understand
native cultures, is ultimately designed to maximize the looting and plundering
of the subject peoples’ resources. Towering ambition and greed are twin
evils joined at the hip. Empire and Empire building, therefore, can never be
As the United States imposes its Fallujahs on the world in its passion for Empire
building with Britain acting as its gundog, the words of one of its past generals
ring truer by the day. Retaliating against a Filipino raid on an American encampment,
General Jake Smith told his men to turn the island into a “howling wilderness”
so that “even birds could not live there.” “Kill and burn! The
more you kill and burn, the better you will please me,'' he ordered. Asked to
clarify who the troops' targets were among the population, the general replied:
“Everything over 10.”
U.S. General Frederick Funston, Broke Philippine Insurrection
Ironically, the white man continues to be called “cultured” and
the rest “hadjis’” “brutes,” and “ragheads.”
This incongruity cannot be clearer than in the answer of an Indian to a European
settler that was taunting him. The Indian said, “White man, you have wiped
us out, you stole our land, you destroyed our homes, you raped our women and
brought deadly diseases to our people. You have done every unthinkable crime
imaginable. It no longer hurts me. What truly hurts me and my people is that
despite all of the crimes you have committed against my people, we are still
considered savages and you "civilized" people. That truly hurts me
To people of color, the British are the embodiment of the white man and are
therefore the symbolic flag carriers of what is best and worst in the white
man. The tendency shown in the casual killing of Menezes is a dark omen marking
the resurgence of an attitude of superiority in the white man toward people
of color. It seems that the white man has not been able to immunize himself
from this unfortunate, contemptible and skewed mind-set toward people of color
- a curse of the white man’s imperial legacy.
The killing of innocent Jean Charles de Menezes of Gonzaga [Brazil] is not
an isolated incident. A chain of incidents, including the campaigns in Iraq
and Afghanistan are more than sufficient proof that the Menezes Syndrome is
back - and back in full force. It shows beyond doubt that the white man continues
to remain convinced that his actions are above reproach, his cause the only
just one, his religion the only right religion and his God the only true God.
"I'm begging God for justice," wails Menezes’s mother in a
floods of tears. That the God seems to be white too - she has forgotten in her