Raphael G. Satter
LONDON – Borders is removing "Tintin in the Congo" from the children's section of its British stores, after a customer complained the comic work was racist, the company said Thursday.
"The material suggests to (children) that Africans are subhuman, that they are imbeciles, that they're half savage," Enright said in a telephone interview.
"My black wife, who actually comes from Africa originally, is sitting there with my boys and I'm about to hand this book to them…. What message am I sending to them? That my wife is a monkey, that they are monkeys?"
The book is the second in a series of 23 tracing the adventures of Tintin, an intrepid reporter, and his dog, Snowy. The series has sold 220 million copies worldwide and been translated in 77 languages.
But "Tintin in the Congo" has been widely criticized as racist by fans and critics alike.
In it, Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi depicts the white hero's adventures in the Congo against the backdrop of an idiotic, chimpanzee-like native population that eventually comes to worship Tintin — and his dog — as gods.
Remi later said he was embarrassed by the book, and some editions have had the more objectionable content removed. When an unexpurgated edition was brought out in Britain in 2005, it came wrapped with a warning and was written with a forward explaining the work's colonial context.
Enright, who said he first complained to Borders and Britain's Commission for Racial Equality about a month ago, argued such a warning was not enough.
"Whether it's got a piece of flimsy paper around it or not, it's irrelevant, it's in the children's section," he said, adding that he felt the book should be treated like pornography or anti-Semitic literature and not displayed in mainstream bookstores at all.
Borders agreed to move the book to its adult graphic novels section, but said in a statement it would continue to sell it.
The Commission for Racial Equality backed Enright, saying in a statement Thursday that the book was full of "hideous racial prejudice."
"The only place that it might be acceptable for this to be displayed would be in a museum, with a big sign saying `old fashioned, racist claptrap.'"