Top Ten: Colonial Villains
Ah, the British Empire. I miss it. I miss being able to walk into Australia and tell them to iron my flag. Ok, so we can still fly around the world spreading cricket and freedom, but it’s not how it once was. No and why’s that? Because of some blaggards who ruined the concept for the rest of us by being such psychos we had to give all the countries back. What a shame. Here are the worst imperialist bastards of all time.
10. Salman Rushdie
Being part of the literary establishment doesn’t give you free license to just go round shooting your mouth off about the Prophet. Is a little Allah respect too much to ask? You may be a modern liberal sophisticate but to me you’re no better than a 19th century slave-owning duke from Eton.
9. Henry Morton Stanley
An orphaned Welshman who found his metier in life as an American journalist turned arse-hole explorer. Desperate to please the English, who had spurned him as a child, he ended up pissing them off by claiming the Congo for Belgium, going on about how good a friend he had been to Doctor Livingstone and generally acting in a “it’s just not cricket” like way. This was highlighted when he said that "the savage only respects force, power, boldness, and decision." Dude, you’re not meant to say that.
8. George Walker Bush
Because, like, America is the new empire… I mean, did you know that Bush used to wear a toga and make the UN call him Caesar? You didn’t. That’s because you’re blinded by neo-imperialist lies.
7. Mark Thatcher
Mummy loved me best. She made Daddy a Baron so I could be one as well and as a Baron I know how to rule a country. That’s why me and my rugger chaps tried to take over a darkie country. Got to teach them about Poll Tax what? Keep it mum though, because I told Mr Judge, that I gave my rugger chums money for ambulances. Ra ra! What a wizard wheeze! Turns out they won’t send people with IQs less than 50 to prison so I’m in the clear! Toot toot!
6. Tippu Tip (Hamed bin Mohammed)
Before the white man came to Africa, it was a land of milk and honey where happy fishermen sung merry songs of love by the river bank. Everyone loved each other and no-one knew the words “greed” or “hate” for they were words that only existed in Europe, home of evil paper money and torture. Of course, there was this one guy, Tippu Tip (yes, he was given a belittling Western nickname), a Swahili-Zanzibari slave trader and plantation who once lamented the demise of a fine canoe after he saw it plunge over a precipice with a load of women and children inside it. Still, he did write the first ever Swahili autobiography.
5. Hernán Cortés
Oh, I’m a God. Definitely. How do you think I can ride these huge four legged monsters I call horses? Why do you think my entourage is really pale? It’s divinity. It’s what happens when you are divine. Hmm, maybe I’ll use this trust to massacre three thousand people in one fell swoop, kill the Aztec leader who named me a God and “take care of” his wife. Deal with it, I'm divine.
4. Paul Kruger
Kruger, of National Game Park fame, was a large Boer. This was something not lost on his African slaves, who had to let their master ride them around the veldts of Transvaal. Kruger loved these trips but was careful not to ride his subjects too far lest they find themselves falling off the edge of the world, which he refused to believe was round.
3. Reginald Dyer
If you were to choose your own epithet, “the butcher of Amritsar” probably wouldn’t be what you'd go for. Following social unrest in the Punjabi town of Amritsar, General Dyer did what any right-thinking military man would do: he ordered the unremitting massacre of thousands of people and then issued a threatening statement suggesting that they deserved it and that, if they didn’t want more trouble, they had better bloody well shut up and get back to making him that frosty G & T he’d asked for. Herbert Asquith called Dyer’s massacre, “one of the worst outrages in the whole of our history”, but The Morning Post (which would later become, predictably, The Daily Telegraph) actually gave him a huge load of cash and lauded him for saving the memory of Queen Victoria, croquet and the interwoven concepts of empire and freedom. Flushed by this endorsement, our Reg suggested an 11th commandment for the Indians: Thou shalt not agitate. In your face Singh! Now where’s my bhuna? Fortunately, Dyer died quite painfully a few years later, his mind now racked with doubts about whether killing everyone was a cool thing to do or not.
2. Vampire Weekend
January 2008 marked a new and unexpected highpoint for proponents of colonial villainy. The release of Vampire Weekend’s eponymous debut album rocked the post-colonial anti-imperial community, whose shock and disgust at the blatant cultural appropriation on display was matched only by the sheer gall exhibited by these New York tyrants. These guys may as well have gone into Fela Kuti’s house, slept with his wife, nicked his soap and run off with his recording equipment. They’re at number 2, but only just…
1. King Leopold II
This guy is the Oasis of colonial villainy. Massive in his home country, capable of shifting huge numbers (substitute “shit albums” for “Congolese dead”) and driven by insatiable greed. Oasis dreamed of being The Beatles, Leopold dreamed of a Belgian empire to match the British. He was laughed at consistently for this dream but, like the wily bearded fucker he was, he made it happen by forming a fake international consortium and enlisting the help of a fellow Top 10 Colonial Villain, the hapless Henry Stanley. The enormous forced labour system Leopold established in the Congo was finally exposed when a journalist realised that normal states don’t export ivory, bauxite and gold while only importing chains and rifles. Not that this bothers his homeland though as Leopold is still feted there; his achievements are cherished even more than those of that other Belgian imperialist, Tintin.