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The Menezes Syndrome

05 August, 2005

By Anwaar Hussain


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In a small red tiled home at the end of a rutted road in the Brazilian town of Gonzaga, Jean Charles de Menezes's parents cry silently each night over the tragic demise of their murdered son. The mother holds a recent photo of her smiling son during this ritual, her tears cascading over her weather beaten face onto the framed photograph. The mango and orange trees in the nearby farms are the wordless partners in this mourning since Friday the 22nd July when life was snuffed out of their innocent son by the London Police.

A journey that started as routine for De Menezes ended up in the never never land courtesy Her Majesty’s armed police who were given shoot to kill orders for all Asian looking suspects in the wake of recent bombing attacks in London. With five shots from point lank range to the back of pinned down Menezes’s head, a blameless man was deprived of his youth and his dreams.

Is it a one-off incident or is it indicative of the resurgence of a once thriving attitude towards people of color when the white man ruled supreme on a large swath of planet earth--an illness that was never really cured: the Menezes Syndrome.

Perhaps it is not possible for the white man to get over the bygone days when the British Empire rose to its pinnacle in showers of colored people’s blood. That the imperialistic genes are surging again in the white man’s veins is amply demonstrated by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision to tag on to the coattails of the latest Empire seeker, the USA, and the decision of his people to reelect him to his office giving a seal of approval to these imperialistic ventures.

As the British lead their American cousins to the vacuum that was left behind by them, the world must come to grips with the white man’s method to understand better the new Imperial master. With the season declared open on men of color and the world cringing at each new atrocity that these international cousins commit on non-Europeans still found sitting on some leftover resources of the earth, it would be worth our while to have a brief look at white man’s Imperial past.

The British, who now chaperon the Americans, did not massacre their subjects because they wanted to make the world safe for democracy decades later. It happened, as all imperial massacres do, in the frenzy of absolute power. It happened in the sick conviction that all colonial masters have toward their subjects--that they have the god given right to decide the course of history for them while at the same time gorging themselves on the loot from the very same subjects.

Perhaps more urgent is the fact that the British Empire is the most commonly cited model for the global power currently brandished by the United States. America is the successor to the Empire in both senses: offspring in the colonial era, heir today. Since the United States in 2005 formally controls a far smaller area of the world than the United Kingdom did in 1905, it will leave no stone unturned in extending its writ to a slice of the earth almost as large, if not larger, than its former master did. The British Empire came to greatness by killing millions of defenseless people. The next Empire will not be found wanting if the Empire building dream is to be fulfilled.


For centuries, the white man from Europe has plundered & terrorized the non-European world treating with contempt the people of different skin color, cultures, philosophies, religions, languages, and way of life. The conquered nations were expected to give up their own culture, their religions, even their languages, and convert to his set of beliefs and values that he defined as “civilized”. In the process, he tolerated no opposition. Any kind of expression of opposition was brutally suppressed. Today’s terrorist groups are like a bunch of kindergarten kids when compared to Europe's colonial armies. Using those armies, the white man killed the people of color, and terrorized the survivors, with a careless abandon justifying it at various times by calling those killed as pagans, heathens, savages, cannibals etc.


Just one harrowing illustration of this attitude is the treatment of Aboriginal people at the turn of the 19th century. The near extermination of the Aboriginal people started with an incident near Hobart in Tasmania in 1804 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 biggest human tragedy of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Tens of millions of Africans were exported to the Americas by Europeans and many perished before reaching the 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 was started in Britain, "the air of England is too pure for a slave to breathe in'' was a phrase coined by the detractors to thwart such efforts.

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, nourished with the blood of slaves. The smiling, well fed façade of Europe has been built with the sweat and 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 other nations creating fiefdoms for themselves in distant lands populated with lesser people of a dark hue and open to their intervention, let the fact not be forgotten that every aspect of colonial rule, including even the outwardly earnest efforts by the Empire builders to study and understand native cultures, is ultimately designed to maximize the loot and plunder of the subject peoples’ resources. Towering ambition and greed are twin evils joined at the hip. The Empire and the Empire building, therefore, can never be philanthropic.


As the United States does its Fallujahs on the world in its Empire building passion, 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.”


Ironically, the white man continues to be called ‘cultured’ and the rest as ‘hadjis’, ‘brutes’, and ‘ragheads’. This incongruity cannot be clearer than in the answer of an Indian to a taunting European settler. The Indian said, “White man, you have wiped us out, you stole our lands, you destroyed our homes, and you raped our women and brought deadly diseases to our people. You have done all the unthinkable crimes anyone can imagine. It does not hurt me any more. What truly hurts my people and me is that despite all these crimes you have committed against my people, we are considered savages and you the "civilized" people. That truly hurts me the most!"

To the people of color, the British are the embodiment of white men and therefore the symbolic flag carriers of what is best and worst in the white man. The tendency shown in the casual killing of De Menezes is a dark omen of a revival of superior attitudes in the white man towards people of color. It seems that the white man has not really been able to immunize himself from this unfortunate, contemptible and skewed mind-set towards people of color—a curse of the white man’s imperial legacy.

The killing of innocent Jean Charles de Menezes of Gonzaga is not an isolated incident. A chain of incidents in campaigns Iraq and Afghanistan, including the campaigns themselves, are sufficient proof that the Menezes Syndrome is back and back with full force. It shows beyond any doubt that the white man continues to remain convinced that his actions are above reproof, 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 floods of tears. That the God seems to be white too--she forgets in her grief.

Copyrights : Anwaar Hussain

Courtesy: Fountainhead

http://malakandsky.blogspot.com/2005/07/menezes-syndrome.html

Reader Comments:

Not totally fair analysis

Messanger of Allah ( may peace and blessing of Allah swt be on him) says that a father shouldnt have to pay for the sins of his son and vice versa. "SOME WHITE MEN" truly have commited atrocities and continue to do so, but to blame and demonize the whole race for the actions of the few is against logic as well as our religious teachings. Every single time you blame 51% americans for reelecting Bush, you seem to forget 49% of the "White Men" voted against him. One million "white men" protested and showed their support against the war in Iraq just in London, millions more all over the "White" Europe. I agree with the historical commentary that you did but rest assure there are very nice, peace loving "white men" in this world who in my opinion are probably in the majority. Just like all muslims are not terrorist as jerry farwell would insist with the same token not all "White Men" are evil. We need to find similarities amongst us and join hands with the majority decent human beings all across the globe rather than drawing this gloomy us against them mentality. Blame the governments and the establishments, thats where the blame lies, not with the "COMMON WHITE MEN"

ABU_SAFWAAN, United Kingdom - 05 August, 2005

Don't Denegrate by Race

Yes white people have acted upon the world destructively and like their coloured human human brethren continue to do so .
They also have done much good .
We the peoples of the world acknowledge our differences . We also know that it is only some whites and some coloureds who are destructive .
Mankind is not perfect but both Mohammed and Christ call on us to act as Allah directed his people .
" To love God above all and our neighbours as ourselves ".
May God's blessing and Guidance be on all of us.

michael Ansted, New Zealand - 05 August, 2005

We are all one

I really love Anwaar Hussain and his analysis. Sometimes he scares me. I agree with alot of what he says but sometimes his articles divide humanity and that is a shame. There really is nothing to the difference in skin color or cultures, it is all based on class. The elite want to divide humanity and make us hate one another for their own gain and wars of greed. We must rise above this ugly propaganda and unite. Only in the unity of mankind can we survive.

pfb, United Kingdom - 07 August, 2005

Your Hate for the White Man Would Be Funny

You know your hate for the white man would practically be funny if it wasn't for the fact that there are people out there who would take what you say seriously and act upon it.

That guy died because he was stupid, not because he was a particular color. Dressed the way he was on a hot day, the police had no choice but to do what they did. He met all the indications of being a homicide bomber.

They even saw wires sticking out of his jacket.

Kirk, United Kingdom - 07 August, 2005

Here's some advice

If it is a warm day out, don't go to a subway that has just been bombed a day earlier wearing a heavy jacket with wires sticking out.

Not a good idea, regardless the color of your skin.

Here's another piece of advice. If you have a nose bleed, don't jump into a tank full of sharks.

If it is deer season, and you are out in the wilderness, wouldn't be a good idea to wear a helmet with Antlers sticking out.

For a list of other things not to do please check this web page out:

http://www.darwinawards.com

Susan, United Kingdom - 07 August, 2005

Let's look at the facts

1) Guy goes out of building where suspected terrorist activity was going on.

2) It was a very warm day, yet the guy was wearing a heavy coat.

3) He goes to a place where a day earlier a bomb was placed but failed to go off appropriately.

4) Police tells him to stop. Instead he runs.

5) He has wires sticking out of his jacket.

Given the fact that there were a hundred or so people there whose lives were at stake and you only have a split second to make the decision - what would you do?

Gus, United Kingdom - 08 August, 2005

What if it was the other way around.

What if the guy had turned out to be a terrorist, yet the police didn't shoot and he had activated the bomb.

The inquiry would be something like this.

---

Captain, you were supervising the police officiers following the terrorist right?

Yes Sir, we were in radio contact.

And your officers were following him because?

Well, sir we had the place he came from under observation. And he cames out despite it being a warm day with a heavy jacket. So we followed him to this subway.

You mean the same subway that a terrorist tried to bomb the day before right?

Yes, Sir. On the previous day the explosives failed to detonate appropriately.

And this didn't concern you? I mean he was heading to the exact same place.

Well I told the officiers on the ground to order him to stop.

And what happened then?

Well he ran, Sir.

So you ordered the officers to pursue right?

Yes Sir, I radioed them with the order to pursuit but not engage.

Ok, and they pursued him further into this crowded subway area. Weren't you worried about all the lives that were being put in danger?

Well we didn't know he was carrying explosives, Sir.

You didn't? He had a heavy jacket on. He didn't stop when your people on the ground told him to. Instead he ran. WHAT THE HELL DID YOU think he was doing?

We weren't 100 percent sure, Sir.

Now, when the man was cornered, did you get a request to authorize the use of deadly force upon the terrorist.

An officer on the ground did request that they would be authorized the use of deadly force upon the suspect, Sir.

And why did he make such a request?

He said that he believed the man had a suicide suit of explosives that he feared would go off. And the only way to stop the man from doing so was to shoot him in the head, Sir.

He said something else, now didn't he officer?

Sir?

From the transcripts I have he said he saw what appeared to be wires sticking up through the jacket.

Yes, sir, that is indeed what he claimed to have seen.

Yet, you still denied the use of lethel force, is that correct?

Yes, sir.

After having one of your officiers on the ground who was looking at the terrorist tell you that he saw wires sticking out of his jacket, you still refused to order the use of lethal force?

Yes, Sir, I didn't think there was enough evidence at the time to authorize such a course of action.

YOU DIDN'T!

Ok, officier, I just have one last question to ask you. What do you expect me to tell the widows of all your men as well as the love ones of the nearly 100 people who were killed when the terrorist activated his explosives because you didn't think that a man coming from a suspected terrorist hidout, wearing a heavy jacket on a warm day, going to a subway station that only a DAY EARIER was a terrorist target, a guy who ran when police told him to stop, and someone who one of your officiers saw wires sticking out of his jacket didn't meet your high standards of being a very likely terrorist? What do you want me to tell them huh? What do you want me to tell them when they ask why we just stood there and did nothing when we could have saved them all by quick decisive action?

-----

Thank God, it went the other way instead. I just hope the police don't hestitate the next time either because the next time it WILL BE a terrorist!

Jane, United Kingdom - 08 August, 2005

what about their red tiled home?

Mr.Anwaar Hussain,
do not cover fanatic Islamist activities by targeting UK and US.
The persons who died in 9/11, 7/7 and (if you publish it Mr.Editor )Mumbai Bomb blast,1993 also have "parents cry silently each night over the tragic demise of their murdered son"
keep in mind eye for an eye will make world blind.
I know , some people might think this as a deviation from the suject but then you have to cut each and every root before you cut the plant.

Aniruddha Kulkarni, Hungary - 09 August, 2005

re:The Menezes Syndrome

The anti imperialist and anti racist tone of your arguement is completely laudable but have you ever asked where these ideologys come from?
Britain was the first major country to formally and legally renounce slavery. Slavery is alive and well in most areas of the world outside of Europe and the US (eg child camel jockeys in the mid east).
Imperialism was considered entirely legitimate by every country until Britain and France lost their appetite for the suffering entailed and the US insisted on its end (check out Suez)
(Its worth remembering that India was ruled by the Mogals for 1000 years. Saddam Hussein was well known for his territorial ambitions.)
The US is not interested in a physical empire- it simply wants the world to be safe for American business. It will shape the world as best it can to that end- as ruthlessly as its power allows.
It seems to me that the most legitimate criticisms of the US and UK are on a human rights level. Where does the idea of human rights come from? Well the spanish strangely enough. The authorities in Spain were horified by the deaths of so many south american indians.
I would be curious to know if anything in the Koran forbids conquest of infidel or fellow muslim countries.

roy, United Arab Emirates - 10 August, 2005

What makes you say that someone from Brazil is not white? And what makes you mistake Britian for Europe?

Silva, Bouvet Island - 17 August, 2005

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