The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa

Photo Source NDU Audio Visual | CC BY 2.0

The symbol of First Lady remains important to the American propaganda machine. She not only smiles and waves on command, she has a wardrobe for every occasion. All projects she does are domestic fluff–she is most like a bored rich housewife. She represents the good American wife we see over TV dinner. Shouldn’t the role of First Lady, in these Trump-Kavanaugh times, finally be put to bed?

At least our current First Lady sleeps in a separate bed from her husband, one Donald J. Trump. She does not however sleep in an entirely different bed as far as the liberal mainstream media is concerned. The reactions to Melania Trump’s peculiar marriage to Donald have been confused. One day she is captive, the next day she is complicit. All days there is serious focus on her wardrobe, as liberals attempt to palm read her outfits, hoping for a sign of scandal from Donald–as if he conceals anything on his own!

Melania Trump’s latest outfit raised the brows of the White Savior Industrial Complex. Melania wore a pith helmet, which is now virally recognized as a symbol of colonialism. Um, yes. But isn’t that the whole point of her Angelina Jolie orphan hugging trip? Shouldn’t we be more upset she went on a colonizing trip in the first place? Becoming upset with a colonizer for wearing a colonizer hat? It’s like getting upset with the murdering police force for using their sirens. The colonizer hat is at least a warning sign!

If Melania really wanted to warn Africans, she would have worn a pantsuit. Hawk Hillary has brought slavery back to Libya, and even was tacky enough to cackle about it on live television. Then there was that 100 million dollar donation to the Clinton Foundation, by Lundin for Africa. Um, is this charity? Lundin is an oil and mining company based in Canada. There was also a 20 million donation to the Foundation from Ethiopia’s repressive leader Meles Zenawi. And ties to businessman Gilbert Chagoury brought along shady land deals in Nigeria. Also of note is her State Department arming of child soldiers in southern Sudan. I mean this could go on and on. Between the Clinton Foundation and an ugly State Department reign, there appears to be pantsuit pollution in about every country in Africa. She’s a basket case of deplorable!

Melania Trump, for all her faults, has not endorsed any of her husband’s crimes except when pushed hard to do so. She has not bullied the women he has sexually assaulted. She has not championed his schemes to lock up people of color, bleed the social welfare state, wage war across the world, or reel back environmental protections. She has been practically silent, yes. But she has not played the “strong woman” role that Hillary did that left her backing and even planning nearly every one of her husband’s misadventures. Say what you will about Melania Trump but she has refused to play the role of first “man”. She will not act as if she as a woman should be and is just as capable of committing evils on the grandest stage. Throughout her career Hillary has been determined to prove that she can play the role of the male leader just as well as her male counterparts did. And Hillary, you are just as capable. Anyone who cannot see your capacity to push aside all forms of empathy and cynically calculate the most regressive forms of patriarchal oppression is a sexist bigot, I have no doubt about that. Melania sadly has kept the woefully outdated and sexist role of first lady intact. But Melania recognizes that one toxic male figure in her marriage is enough.

I feel no need to defend Melania Trump, for she has been at the right hand of perhaps the worst President of all time. She is more “complicit” than just about all of us. On the other hand, I must give this to her: she is not Hillary Clinton. This is Melania’s only merit as a first lady, but as Barack Obama’s term at Presidency and John Kerry’s term at Secretary of State showed us, it is a difference that will spare the lives of at least a few women and their husbands. Or at the very least the blood spilled will not be followed by a signature demonic laugh.

Why didn’t Donald visit Africa? Because he thinks these countries are shitholes. He hates everyone there except for a few white people in South Africa, who like his buddy Kavanaugh, are always the victims. It’s good Donald didn’t go to Africa, because he’s a very racist person.

Trump is bad, worse than everyone on everything, including on war and peace. But he is not the only colonizer, and far from. The reaction to Melania’s silly hat was quite odd, because it appeared that the naysayers were assuming colonialism, and even the explicit exploitation of Africa as a whole, was a relic—too painful an idea to be alluded to in polite circles.

In reality, business suits are today’s colonial hats. The foreign policy in regards to Africa is still colonialism. There is officially a U.S. military presence in 53 countries in Africa (out of a total of 54), with active war in 20 of these countries. Donald Trump has made the war on Africa worse, but he was not the radical when it comes to Africa. From Vice: “In 2006, just 1 percent of all U.S. commandos deployed overseas were in Africa. In 2010, it was 3 percent. By 2016, that number had jumped to more than 17 percent.” Thanks, Obama.

There has been a tragic and dramatic shift in the U.S. war on Africa. And could anyone think of a more quiet development on the U.S. homeland? It is entirely possible that more Americans know about Melania’s hat than Obama’s exponential expansion of the war on Africa. Vice also tells us about the increase in military missions in Africa, rising from 172 in 2008 to 3,500 in 2017. 

The shift truly is jaw-dropping. If anyone cared, wouldn’t this major military expansion across a continent that takes up 20% of the earth’s land and 16% of the world’s people be the defining story of this past decade? (I’m sure these numbers are low, as they are Western numbers—we already make the continent look much smaller on a map). Wouldn’t a reengaged effort to control dozens of countries through military force be of some note? One might even call it the death of democracy, the birth of fascism, etc. Instead, we have, as a nation, become entirely numb!

The Hillary—Barack murder of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi was devastating not just for Libya, but all of Africa. Gaddafi was such a threat for the U.S. powers-that-be because he was unifying Africa before his death. Now the entire continent is fair game for the lawless leaders in the United States. The Guardian observes: “The Obama administration in fact oversaw one of the largest military expansions into Africa establishing small bases and outposts for drones, surveillance, air-bases, Special Forces, and/or port facilities in Kenya, Uganda, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Senegal.”

Willfully blind and distracted, we are all as ignorant as Melania Trump when it comes to U.S. policy in Africa. We all walk in with our silly hats, ready to respond to that poor little ‘country’ we see on the news! Freed from colonialism, and nurtured by the African Son (POTUS 44), we are all left with the same feelings that the Trumps have about Africa: they are poor, they are hungry, we care, and we wear the hats to prove it.

Note the two most telling quotes from our two most recent Presidents in the U.S.A. One said: “We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans … the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants.” and the other said: “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries.” These quotes mean exactly, and I mean exactly, the same thing.

We can see from this quote that Trump is habitually obsessed with immigration—he’s a notorious germaphobe, which applies to his thoughts about other people. He sees America as an extension of himself (very astute on his part). He does not want to see it polluted with anyone impure. He, of course, will tolerate the significant number of “uneducated” who he “loves” in order to pick up enough votes to remain in charge of America (in other words in charge of the people who could regulate his limitless profits). That’s not to say Trump doesn’t enjoy the other Presidential perks of deportation, defunding education and grabbing pussy.

The developments in Africa, virtually unnoticed and undiscussed by mainstream U.S. society, are as significant as any other major storyline we may believe define our times. Whether that be the bailouts of Wall St. or the rise of the fascist Donald Trump. We should not forget that the instability brought to Africa by the U.S. overlords in the past decade was just as, if not more, radical than the shifting of power to an explicit fascist here at home.

In liberal dogma, there is no such thing as colonialism anymore, but they also are somehow anti-racist. Clearly, a contradiction that simply cannot exist without what Teju Cole calls the White Savior Industrial Complex.

I remember the philosophical arguments about whether or not God exists. The contradiction for atheists was that God could neither be all-good or all-powerful. For if he was all good, he wouldn’t want any bad. And if he was all powerful, he could end all bad. But the world had bad things, so therefore God did not exist.

The logic in regards to Africa is similar, it goes something like this. 1. The United States is all-good and all-powerful. 2. Africa is bad. 3. The United States is powerful and rich, so we must have a role in Africa. 4. But Africa is bad, and we aren’t racist, and CNN likes Democrats, so what gives? 5. Oh, we must just not be doing enough in Africa. We are all-good, but not yet all-powerful! Intervention!

Trump and co. literally wear their colonizing hats. Despite being an asinine TV character, Donald Trump has always had that mythic call to the past, where white men could pillage whatever they pleased. Why wouldn’t he be a symbol of old-school colonization if he could be so popular amongst the Thor crowd? This is a worse way to be, but also more transparent. Trump, quite simply, hates black and brown people. It’s plain as day! He’s also a pushover though, and any isolationist  ideas (however racist they were) are now out of his system.

Was Melania signing the bat symbol for us liberal colonizers? Are we now awakened to the evils of present-day colonialism? Nope. Like everything in the Trump regime, it was just clumsy and insensitive. With these clunkers as P.R. people, the war on Africa could well be exposed. But just as liberals plugged their ears for cries of “Fake News”, we will now shut our ears to explicit cries of “I am a colonialist!” The reason that liberals empower rather than defeat Trumpism, is that Donald Trump, like hunger and poverty in Africa, is explained as a deviation from, rather than a product of, the neoliberal capitalist imperialist structure.

Forget the Trumps and their silly hats for a moment. We missed the moment when democracy died. It was when the U.S. war on Africa ballooned by 20 times its previous amount in just a decade. It was when this happened and nobody knew, nobody cared, and nobody stopped it that we became a state of fake news, willful ignorance, ethnic cleansing, and fascism. The appalling rise of AFRICOM shows that things change, and change quickly and dramatically. So, better days, maybe far better days, could be ahead in our future.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at