“..the zest and righteousness with which he kills Africans is such an organic part of the character…”
You refer, I assume, to the Africans who slew his ape-mother, and also the inhuman cannibals with whom he struggled throughout the original series, rescuing many friends from their flesh-pots, and escaping himself from that awful fate many times?
Because your article neglects to mention the Waziri — the African tribe that adopts Tarzan as their chief, with he even adopting the name of their tribe as his own name as is customary among them, becoming then no longer Tarzan, but Waziri, Chief of the Waziri. I assume, if you’re familiar with the source material, you might recall that little detail, and that they relocated their tribe to live near him, and for whom he would die to protect if need be.
Also there is the fact that those same cannibalistic natives that killed Kala, his ape-mother, tried to kill him at every given opportunity, so that they waged mutual war against one another. It was hardly one-sided as you portrayed in the article. Yes, he hamstrung them, garroted them, knifed them, hung them by ropes, probably fed them to lions, too, if the truth were known.
But you have to remember that his first introduction to the gomangani, the natives who killed his mother and took away from him the only thing in life he loved at that point, was when they slaughtered his mother, and so they incurred at that moment the instant, undying wrath of the Lord of the Jungle — who warred on them, not because they were black, but because they killed his mother.
I have to say, if they killed my mother, I’d quite possibly commit those things too, especially were I an untutored savage who had never known the milk of human kindness, and knew nothing of civilization but for the squalid mud huts of cannibals along with the sharp edge of Mbonga’s spears my whole life.
Also not to be forgotten is the fact that Tarzan slew Arabs and whites with equal relish when they crossed the line. We all recall the familiar phrase ‘Tarzan hate Nazis’ from the early films. Well, those weren’t black Nazis Tarzan was killing, am I right? Nor were the Arab slavers he drove from his country black — they were Arabs, enslaving blacks — blacks that he rescued. Nor should we forget the whites who crossed his path — Nicholas Rokoff, white big-game hunters, the ancient Romans in Tarzan and the Lost Empire, the ‘Backers’ of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungled. Egads, man, it goes on and on.
Obviously, in today’s day and age, we become focused on ERB’s racist views. Equally obviously, if you delve into the source material, Tarzan himself was not the racist your article portrays. He just didn’t like bad guys.