Evildoers

For the past week, there’s been a lot of hubbub over All Things Beautiful’s Ten Worst Americans challenge. For a lot of reasons, I don’t have a comprehensive list, and I’m not that keen on the whole project (there’s lots of evil and ugliness in the world without going out of your way to seek it out, compile it, and cross-index it; I have no idea what the criteria would be for choosing ten people as more evil than any others; and I think that most of us are already far too fascinated with and fixated on demonology as it is). So I don’t have a Worst Ten list to provide. But I do have a list of additions that I think ought to be there, if lists are to be made. Coming out for the left-liberal corner we have Ampersand at Alas, A Blog (2005-12-27) with a list of seven villains, Patrick at Tiberius and Gaius Speaking… with a list of ten, and Glenn Greenwald and Hypatia at Unclaimed Territory (2005-12-28) with another ten to throw on the barbie. With the exception of Glenn’s silly inclusion of Harry Blackmun, they are pretty much right, as far as it goes, but there are some notable names that I notice tend to get left out. I suggested some additions at Alas and some dishonorable mentions at Tiberius and Gaius, which have been followed up with some debate.

Here’s my contribution of evildoers. I make no attempt to be comprehensive — there are lots of truly rotten people who aren’t on the list, mainly because they are mentioned elsewhere. But these folks are truly rotten, and often overlooked — sometimes because they get shoved out of the way by contemporary contenders that contemporary writers tend to give disproportionate space to, sometimes because the villains are overlooked by pop history anyway, and sometimes simply because political blinders prevent their names from being given serious consideration. The interesting thing is that the blinders rarely constitute defenses of their deeds — although in at least two of the three cases I discuss with Patrick that is what’s happening. It’s just that, for whatever reason, some folks whose crimes are readily admitted, if mentioned, aren’t thought of when you sit down thinking Who should I put down as a terrible evil-doer? I have some ideas about the reasons behind that, but I’d be interested to hear what you think in comments, too.

In any case, here’s my unordered list of overlooked evildoers, cobbled together from my suggestions elsewhere:

  • Harry S. Truman. He ordered or approved the murders of 500,000 - 1,000,000 Japanese civilians over the course of half a year in 1945.

  • Curtis LeMay. He carried out the murder of 500,000 - 1,000,000 Japanese civilians over the course of half a year in 1945. He planned and carried out the low-altitude firebombing of Kobe, Tokyo, and 65 other Japanese cities. A nuclear maniac who explicitly denied that there were any innocent bystanders in war, went on to coin the phrase bomb them back into the Stone Age (in reference to the Vietnam War), and went on to become George Wallace’s running mate in 1968, on a platform of white supremacy and more militant anticommunism. During World War II, he repeatedly indicated his belief that the Japanese deserved wholesale slaughter of civilians, and his own public statements and the reminiscences of the soldiers who served under him reveal him as simply reveling in death and destruction.

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a pseudo-leftist demagogue who created the military-industrial complex; imprisoned political opponents; seized sweeping censorship powers; pandered to the worst sorts of racism, first in his political alliances with arch-segregationist Dixiecrats and then in whipping up war fever for war against Japan; ordered internment of Japanese-Americans; happily allied with, propagandized for, and consigned 1/2 of Europe to the totalitarian terror of, Joseph Stalin; and became one of the three men who came the closest to becoming a dictator in the United States.

  • Woodrow Wilson, unreprentant liar and war-monger, KKK fan, arch-segregationist, ardent anti-feminist. His published academic work delighted in white supremacist myth-making; his warmongering drew the United States needlessly into one of the worst and most senseless wars in world history; he built a slave army with the second federal draft in American history, and shredded civil liberties with abandon, happily imprisoning political opponents both during and after the War and presiding over the devastating Palmer Raids. Wilson is one of the three men who came the closest to becoming a dictator in the United States.

  • George Fitzhugh, who fused the worst elements of statist utopian socialism with a nostalgic view of feudal hierarchy to provide the most militant theoretical defense of white supremacy and race slavery in the prewar South. He authored Slavery Justified, Sociology in the South, and Cannibals All!.

  • William Tecumseh Sherman, one of the inventors of modern scorched-earth warfare, ravager of the South and murderer of Southern civilians. Sherman followed up his most famous role by pursuing genocidal campaigns against the Plains Indians and Indians in the Southwest from 1869 until his retirement in 1884.

  • James Eastland, the militant white supremacist Senator from Mississippi, mad dog McCarthyist, and founding father of the White Citizens Councils.

  • In addition to another Alas commenter’s suggestion of Larry Flynt, I’d also like to add Chuck Traynor, the pimp / pornographer / rapist / batterer / slave-driver who forced Linda Boreman into Deep Throat (among other pornography) and played an instrumental role in founding the mass-market, above-ground film pornography industry in the U.S. through repeated filmed rapes.

  • Sergio Méndez reminded me that Ronald Reagan certainly needs a mention, yet he seems notoriously absent from many of the lists. I mention him here not because I think he’s often overlooked on lefty lists of rotten people, but rather because I think the primary reasons to include him — his complicity in the formation of the death squads of El Salvador and the plainly genocidal massacre of some 200,000 Indians in Guatemala — is often overlooked in favor of a frankly silly focus on his contributions to the rhetoric of the contemporary Right in America.

The exercise, whatever its demerits, does seem to be a good conversation-starter. What do you think?

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  1. Discussed at www.allthingsbeautiful.com

    All Things Beautiful:

    A Challenge To The Blogosphere: ‘The Ten Worst Americans’ List (CONST. UPDATED)

    “As a post Christmas/Hannukah Challenge, I invited the Blogosphere to name ‘The Ten Worst Americans’…..Rad Geek has although reluctantly, posted his here, with extensive explanations and some names that have not appeared elsewhere.

· March 2006 ·

  1. mark

    Yo radgeek god bless you for punishing those southern lost cause apologist. They are so full of it I tried to post my top ten worst Americans but I could not get onto that website. Anyway I was wondering if you could post them for me. Here are my top ten.

    1. Thomas Jefferson not only because he owned slaves but he de humanized black people by saying that black people were inferior to white people in his notes on Virginia ( to justify slavery of course) and then turned around and had kids (who he legally owned) by Sally Hemmings a slave who he claims was inferior. By the way I consider his sexual relationship with a slave he owned to be rape. What kills me is that some folks had Bill Clinton and Jimmy carter on this list Ive even heard some claim Bill Clinton is responsible for the moral errosion of american society, but Slave owning Tom Jefferson is a hero (please). Some like to claim that at the time slavery was legal and you cant apply today’s values to that time period. Well lets put this way. Maybe slavery was legal, but surely after living around them, seeing them interact with their kids, cry when whipped and sometimes escaped for want of freedom surely someone as bright as Jefferson could have figured out that this were human beings who deserved their freedom. After all Washington ( the father of the country freed his). And If blacks were inhuman what was he doing repeatedly putting his colonial founding peter in Sally Hemmings if he did not consider her a human being. Bottom line is he knew slavery was immoral but he kept his slaves anyway.

    2. Nathan Bedford Forest for the inhuman and ruthless slaughter of black and white union troops) at Ft Pillow. Including burning wounded soldiers alive. Founder of the Ku Klux Klan the original american terrorist organization. That terrorized and helped to cheat black people out of their rights for over one hundred years. As far as Im concerned he was the founder of a gang of thugs and Neanderthal’s ( but he has statues and is celebrated all throughout the south) What’s that all about?

    3. Woodrow Wilson for his ignoring of the black peoples rights, his endorsing and red lighting of segregation in the federal government. disenfranchisement of black peoples constitutionally guaranteed rights, (which blacks had earned on revolutionary and civil war battlefields I may add). The situation in the south during Wilson’s time in office was this a white man could do anything to black person including rapping black women, which they frequently did dating back into slavery times. These are President Wilson’s comments upon viewing G W Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation. It’s like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all terribly true. Although considered a cinematic achievement This movie is considered to be racist proganda of white from a white supremist ideologe. It projected black people as buffoons and savages. Featuring white men in black face attacking and rescuing white women from the savage black brute. According to the movie the Klan are the good guys, honorable and fine upright citizens. All this during a time when southern white men were lynching and burning black people to death. This was a time when a white man could rape a black women and expect no jail time, but if a black man was found out to be in a consensual relationship with a white women he could be lynched, castrated or burned and dragged through town. The reason why a white man could expect no jail time all white jury’s of course and because of the suppression of black peoples rights. In fact in some of the black codes black people were allowed testify against whites even in their own deffense.

    4. Strom Thurmond ( Senator from south Carolina) who fathered a child by an underage black girl ( what do you think would have happen to a black man fathering a child by a underage white women at that time). Then in 1964 Ole strom led a 24 hour filibuster against the voting rights act( the longest in senate history), he also ran for the democratic nomination as the ” states rights party candidate his posse the ( Dixie Crats) and why, all because of Truman’s order to integrate the army. Although he may have changed his tune in later years maybe even in earnest. During a time when black people suffered all kinds of indignities and theft of their human, civil and property rights, to back up the white supremacist system that allowed this treatment to millions of citizens including descendants and participants in this countries wars . For him to flame the fuel of racial hatred and exclusion is unforgivable. Black people suffered because of his signifying racisist bu## Sh#t

    5. Andrew Johnson ( Senator from Tennessee) was a racist pig, who in my opinion has the blood of thousands of black people and republicans in the south on his hands. The actions he took, and the blatant lack of respect for the freedman that he showed in his policies and actions, the refusal to support blacks some ( including soldiers who had fought to save the union) was the prerequisite for the illegal theft of black peoples rights (especially) in the south. He basically allowed the south to slaughter its black citizens when they saw fit.

    6. General Phil Sheridan ( union general during the civil war) for his racist arrogant policy towards native Americans , according to Sheridan ” the only good Indian was a dead one”. What kind of bull sh##t was that. Anybody saying that type of non sense about native Americans who had been removed from their ancestral homeland is an a##whole in the most pure and true sense of the world.

    7. All of the redneck dixiecrat senators in the United states Senate and house of representatives who refused to pass an antilynching bill in spite of the fact that it was open seasons on Black people in the south. These folks were some truly reprehensible pricks, From the 1890 right on thru the first half of the 20 century. Social organizations would lobby congress and other public officials to get an antilynching bill past. But every time it would come up on the floor those good ole boys would kill it claiming that this would violate states rights, while at the same time illegally violating the human and property rights of millions of blacks throughout the south for 100 years after the civil war, which were guaranteed by the united states constitution.

    8. The men who thought up and then participated in the American part of the African slave trade. The conditions that enslaved Africans had to endure is truly the most criminal heinous and criminal acts of American history. I will not go into detail other than to say I read somewhere that a slave ship could be smelled miles away, Africans were often chained to other Africans who passed away due to the inhumane conditions. I recently read of a case where the captain of a slave ship through 132 Africans overboard for the insurance money. For more details see .

    9. Whoever or whatever group or person ordered the rounding up and then intermet of Japanese Americans in concentration camps. They also had their property and homes confiscated. During world war 1 & 2 the united states didn’t arrest Germans because we were fighting Germans. This illegal arrest of Japanese Americans was not only illegal but also immoral.

    10. I could only think of 9 sorry.

— 2008 —

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