Monday, July 23, 2012

The Most Evil People in American History

When RightWingNews polled a group of conservative bloggers for the most evil people in American History, they got a list notable for its historical illiteracy. For people who rant about the lessons we supposedly are not learning from history, the bloggers showed an incredibly limited knowledge. They named a few historical low-lifes like Benedict Arnold and John Wilkes Booth, but mostly they dwelt on insignificant recent figures. When a fluff-ball like George Soros makes such a list, you know you're dealing with superficiality. On a scale of evil, Soros ranks about with the guy who dreamed up the Burger King masked character. Worthy of death by slow torture, maybe, but not historically evil.

Still, it's a fun exercise, so I made a list of my own. My criterion was the person had to have done serious harm in space or time, or left a lingering bad legacy. Criminals, no matter how heinous, mostly don't make the list. Benedict Arnold, whose plot failed, also doesn't make the list. The only people he really hurt are himself and his hapless and honorable courier, Major Andre. Just plain nasty people, like Frank Lloyd Wright or even Leona Helmsley, don't make the list. Some of the people on the list weren't so much malevolent as clueless, but their legacy is disastrous. I think it's a pretty bipartisan list. Conservatives, prepare to be enraged in 3...2...1...

  • Antonin Scalia. "Innocence is not a Constitutional bar to incarceration." Why hasn't this dimwit been impeached?
  • J. Edgar Hoover. May or may not have been a closeted gay. Pure evil, on the other hand, beyond doubt. Preferred chasing imaginary Communists to confronting real organized crime.
  • Joe McCarthy. Did more to advance Communism through sheer ineptitude than the whole Comintern. He screwed up our foreign service so badly you really have to wonder if he might not have been paid by the Russians. In fact, at least one alternative history story claims he was a Soviet mole, not from conviction but simple corruption.
  • George Patton. An inspiration to generations of mediocrities who equate spit shines with competence. The reasoning goes like this: "Patton was an @$$****, and he was brilliant; so if I act like him, I'll be brilliant, too." If he'd gotten his war with the Russians, the "greatest generation" would have died in the Gulag.
  • William Westmoreland. Lost the Vietnam War and built a tissue of lies to conceal it.
  • Cotton Mather. Any similarity between his name and the venomous serpent the cottonmouth has to be divinely ordained.
  • Jonathan Edwards. He and Mather helped weave the thread of persistent nastiness in American Christianity.
  • Henry Morris. A principal founder of the Scientific Creation cult, more or less guaranteeing that conservatism will never, ever, be taken seriously by intellectuals.
  • William Callahan. Judge during the infamous Scottsboro trials who set records for judicial misconduct seldom surpassed.

Okay, liberals, your turn now.

  • Earl Warren. As governor of California, pushed to intern the Japanese, then passed himself off as a champion of civil rights.
  • William O. Douglas. Loopiest. Justice. Ever. He and Warren pretty much guaranteed that there would never, ever again be an apolitical Supreme Court nomination.
  • William Proxmire. Wisconsin's bookend to Joe McCarthy. Praised for his "courage" in setting up the Golden Fleece Awards, as if it's ever required courage in American politics to ridicule research. Not one Golden Fleece ever went to LBJ's "Great Society."
  • John Brown. America's very own Osama bin Ladin.
  • Abbie Hoffman. Architect of the Sixties cultural disaster. Next time you lament single issue politics, remember "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"
  • Timothy Leary. Founder of the drug culture.
  • Eldridge Cleaver. His book Soul on Ice is an icon of the "criminal as political prisoner" mindset.

And now some creeps of no particular political orientation.

  • Andrew Jackson. Just ask the Cherokee. Single most evil act ever by an American President.
  • Jimmy Hoffa. Did more to undermine the union movement than any other person. Made "union" synonymous with "organized crime."
  • Ben Butler. Political hack turned Civil War general and war criminal.
  • William Quantrill. Thug and murderer masquerading as guerrilla.
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest. When military skill crosses the line into cold blooded murderer. Went on to found one of the vilest terrorist organizations ever. A brutal thug before the Civil War, during the war, and after it.
  • Jay Fisk and James Gould. Vanderbilt was a robber baron but he built railroads. Carnegie made steel. Rockefeller found oil. These guys, like Gordon Gekko, produced nothing. Spiritual forebears of Bernie Madoff and his ilk.
  • Allan Pinkerton. His intelligence estimates during the Civil War were so bad you really have to wonder who he was really working for. Went on to supply rent-a-goons for strikebreaking.
  • Roger Taney. Author of the Dred Scott decision, a ham-fisted attempt to settle the slavery issue by Supreme Court fiat. Pioneer of the imperial Supreme Court approach.
  • James Buchanan. Coward who hunkered down and waited out his term rather than trying to avert the Civil War.

And now some Dishonorable Mentions:

  • Lillian Hellman and Paul Robeson. Isn't Stalin just dreamy? Those purges and labor camps are just propaganda.
  • Father Coughlin. Before there was pedophilia to disgrace the priesthood, there was this rabble rouser.
  • John Nance Garner. If you think having Dan Quayle a heartbeat from the Presidency was scary, check out this character.
  • Sonny Bono. Author of the bill extending copyrights to 95 years, one of the worst assaults on free speech in American history.
  • L. Ron Hubbard and Jeremy Rifkin. Two of the most dangerous cranks in American history.
  • William Kunstler. Defender of sociopaths.
  • Robert Moses. Inventor of freeways as social barriers.
  • Aimee Semple McPherson. Cult leader. Falling from grace and shacking up with your radio technician is merely sin. Covering your absence by claiming you were kidnapped by evolutionists and liquor interests gets you on this list.
  • Boss Tweed. Redefined corruption.
  • Huey Long. A jambalaya of craziness and corruption as only Louisiana can cook up.
  • Anthony Comstock. Professional prude. Here, let me mind your own business for you.
  • Hugh Hefner. The pictures are relatively harmless. It's the snotty attitude in Playboy's articles and commentaries that have done the real damage to the culture. Ask me how I know, Sherlock.
  • William Randolph Hearst. Wars are good for circulation. His castle shore is purty, though. Rosebud.
  • Edmund G. (Pat) Brown. California might have become a moonbat state without him, but he certainly helped.
  • Caryl Chessman. Rapist whose lengthy battle to avoid the gas chamber fostered the illusion that articulate writers can't be vicious criminals, and laid the foundations for the "endless frivolous appeals" model of jurisprudence.
  • Ralph Nader. If there's an inconvenient and useless "safety" feature on anything you own, thank Ralph. Gore voters in 2000, thank Ralph as well.
  • George B. Seldon. The original patent troll. Realizing that many people were working on mechanized transport, he patented a nonexistent, generic automobile (just the concepts) and then milked every early auto manufacturer.