Newt Gingrich isn’t ashamed to tout his background as a historian, but few Americans probably know that he received his history PhD for a dissertation about the Belgian Congo. Foreign Policy‘s Joshua Keating has read Gingrich’s 1971 dissertation, “Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945-1960,” and reports that he found the young Gingrich’s attitude toward colonialism to be “remarkably benign, often drifting into ‘White Man’s Burden’ territory.” Morehouse poli-sci professor and Congo expert Laura Seay drew a similar conclusion after she read the thesis, which Gingrich appears to have written without setting foot in the former Belgian colony (then Zaire).
Hearing of Gingrich’s paper reminded me of another apology for colonial Congo: Tintin au Congo (Tintin in the Congo), a notoriously racist comic book starring the beloved Belgian boy reporter. First published in the early ’30s, it was later mildly revised but went unpublished in English for decades. It remains a stain on the career of its creator, Hergé, as well as that of his soon to be even more famous protagonist. (A Belgian court recently rejected an attempt to have it banned for being racist.)
Anyway, that got me thinking, what would happen if boy historian Newt “Gingin” Gingrich ventured into Tintin’s world? (All substantial quotes in the mashup below are from Gingrich’s dissertation.)