Hotel Rwanda -- From my upcoming film review in The American Conservative:
As America strives to prod Iraq to "democracy," which President Bush defines as sugar and spice and everything nice (such as protection of minority rights), "Hotel Rwanda" could serve as a timely reminder that long-oppressed peoples, like the Hutus in Rwanda (and perhaps the Shi'ites in Iraq), generally assume the word means … majority rule.
And what the Hutu majority wanted was vengeance on their traditional rulers, the Tutsis...
Rwanda's true history is more instructive. The medium-height Bantu Hutu farmers arrived 2,000 years ago and drove the pygmoid hunter-gatherer Twa into the forests. Then, about the time of Cortez, the tall, slender Tutsi herdsmen invaded from the north and, according to Gary Brecher, the acerbic "War Nerd" columnist, "claimed all the land, on the legal basis that if you objected they'd kill you."
The Tutsi rulers treated the Hutu peasantry with the same contempt the Norman lords display toward the Saxon yeomen in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. Commenting on Rwanda's "indigenous racism," Congo-born sociologist Pierre L. van den Berghe reported that the Tutsis, like other aristocracies, saw themselves as "astute in political intrigue, born to command, refined, courageous, and cruel."
The Tutsi ascendancy resembled the white pre-eminence in Latin America. Intermarriage was frequent, yet physical differences between the classes endured, just as they have in Mexico, where despite five centuries of intermarrying, the elite remains much taller and fairer than the masses. The trick is that Mexico's most successful short, dark men often wed tall, blonde women and have more European-looking offspring, thus replenishing the caste system. Likewise, in "Hotel Rwanda," Don Cheadle's ultra-competent Hutu executive is married to a Tutsi beauty who is taller and fairer than he is.
Prudent imperialists divide and rule, employing as their local surrogates a well-organized minority like the Tutsis in Belgian Rwanda or the Sunnis in British Iraq. In contrast, the Bush Administration disbanded the Sunni-run Iraqi Army on the advice of Shi'ite exile Ahmed Chalabi. Many Sunnis decided to fight rather than let us give the whip hand to the Shi'ites, whose hatred they had long provoked.
When the Belgians went home in 1962, the Hutus voted themselves into power and began persecuting their ex-overlords. Many Tutsis fled to Uganda, from which their sons invaded Rwanda in 1990. Rather like the French Revolutionaries guillotining the aristocrats in response to the old order's attack on France in 1792, fearful Hutu extremists decided upon a final solution.