A Wicked Who’s Who

December 9, 2011 at 8:55 pm (Who's Who) (, , , , , , , , , )

Doubtless you’ve seen these before:

Reminds me of a certain poetry scam I’ve mentioned in a post before which nearly ensnared my doorman, Teffer. That particular party I take to be now defunct, and justly so, though these ‘Who’sWho’ outfits are a Who’s Who of Calumny.

But, as the showman and eminent peddler of the absurd to the unwary, P.T. Barnum, once noted, “There’s a sucker born every minute‘. And so it is with those suckered into shenanigans such as this. Vanity Press one and all!

I’ll freely admit I’ve doggedly pursued inclusion into the authentic Who’s Who … with unsuccessful results, to date. That aside, it occurred to me that what would make a splendid Who’s Who entry for one of these devious rackets would be to mire them down with a personage more suitable to their chicanery & temper.

In light of this revelation on my part, I selected an individual of dubious reputation from a charming little collection of biographies, of the series entitled: ‘A Wicked History’.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Leopold II, late King of the Belgians & ‘Emperor’ of the Belgian Congo (wherein most of his troubles were mired, as it were). Herein was the root of Conrad’s famous story, Heart of Darkness, from which the equally famous  film Apocalypse Now spawned from.

And, should there be any question of his bona fides, re: his inclusion in my Wicked Who’s Who, here is a piece from the time period penned by none other than Mark Twain venting his approbation of the ghastly monarch. And when Mr. Clemens stuck a fork in you, you were well and truly roasted.

So then, on to the particulars & how good ol’ Leopold’s entry might read if included in Who’s Who:

Leopold II, Leopold Louis Philippe Marie Victor, (“odd”, “funny”, “birdlike”), King of the Belgians (“I am King of a small country and small-minded people,” he complained.): December 17, 1865, b. 1835 of Leopold I and Queen Louise-Marie of Orleans, m. August 1853, Archduchess Marie-Henriette of Austria-Hungary (a marriage between “a stable-boy and a nun”, he was the nun), two s. two d., also m. Delacroix, Blanche Zelia Josephine (a prostitute)  December 14, 1909, Attempted to gain a colony from China, Dutch Borneo, Portugal in Timor, Mozambique, and Angola, Spain and the Philippines, New Guinea, French Indochina, and two islands off the coast of Turkey (all deals fell through), International African Association formed in 1876: Chairman (purported aim to end slavery, real aim to obtain the King a colony), 1878 set up International Association of the Congo (hired Stanley to set up a base and secure him “a slice of this magnificent African cake.”), May 1885, Leopold II became ruler of the Congo (“Congo Free State” nothing could be further from the truth), 1890 tribal leaders are co-opted & ivory is acquired by force (“The Congo Free State is certainly not a business,” he claimed, while also declaring, “Time is money”), 1891 Congo Free State claimed all natural resources, 1900 the Force Publique had put down numerous rebellions (brutally), 1895 reports of abuses come out publicly (‘he said he was shocked’…Shocked!), 1896, formed a Commission for the protection of the Natives (LOL), 1901 Morel, set up West African Mail, seeks to “expose and destroy” Leopold’s regime in Congo (Leopold tries to bribe him), 1903 English parliament investigates, 1904 British Consul Casement issues report (“The country a desert,  no natives left.” Morel, “the most gigantic fraud and wickedness which our generation has known.”), 1904 Congo Reform Association (goal: end Leopold’s rule), Nov. 1905 Commission of Inquiry report confirms abuses, Dec. 1906, Leopold II agrees to hand over the Congo to the Belgian Government (“The Belgian people are tired of me,”), 1907 the King rode around on a huge tricycle (increasingly eccentric), Dec. 1909 Leopold II becomes sick & dies, 1919 Belgian government  report: there were 10 million less people in the Congo than when Leopold II assumed control (Brit. diplomat, King was always trying to “squeeze money out of the people.”)

I’ve met many a scoundrel in my time & in my line of work in the mystery shopper industry; misers and Grinch-hearts to put Uncle Scrooge to shame. But this guy, takes the cake. Happy Holidays, All…..

 

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