March 9, 2006 at 8:10 am #4250
What about the Mi Lai (sp?) massacre in Vietnam? Were our soldiers villains in that episode?March 9, 2006 at 8:27 pm #4251
Our soldiers were villians individually, but the difference between Mi Lai and other examples of mass murder in the century what Rubenstein pointed out: Mi Lai was an abberation, notable because it was so exceptional and out of the ordinary. This is in contrast to organized mass murder in the death states where systematized and assembly line extermination was POLICY and expected. They stand at complete opposites of the continuum of morality and behaviour.March 9, 2006 at 10:43 pm #4252
The Mai Lai massacre stopped by Hugh Thompson, was a tragedy, and the soldiers involved were tried and sentenced. I'm not sure that there was as much “evil” connected with it as miscommunication. The argument was that “superiors must have known something that we don't” and the soldiers were just following orders. Lt. Calley insists he was given specific orders and although he should have questioned them more, they were what caused the killing. I'm not surw who you put in the crosshairs in this action as villain. Lt. Calley? Gen. Colin Powell?Lets just put Thompson on a pedestal as hero and go on to the next issue.March 9, 2006 at 10:49 pm #4253jonnyjmboyParticipant
I would postulate that one of the reasons for the US's lack of systematic killing may simply be because of this country's relative youth. I'm sure there are other factors as well, possibly the presence of a relatively free press, and an overall sense of moral superiority. who knows? I guess I'm starting a newer train of thought here, but what would be some of the possible factors that have prevented this kind of thing from happening in the US? Historical trends, or even any historical figures of note?March 10, 2006 at 12:40 am #4254
jonny, I think that the answer lies in the basic fact that the United states = good. Now, before any harsh objections are made to this, I realize that America has hardly acted justly at all times and in all circumstances. However, the country was founded by enlightened men of good will who put in place a democratic system which would control excesses and grant justice to the oppressed. For all its failures, it is largely a good system which has controlled rampant corruption.Corruption is key, because if it goes unchecked it can lead to a multitude of problems. One of the biggest things people ought to realize from the whole Abu Ghirab prison torture scandal is that those unjust actions have had consequences, and the persons involved are now being punished. This is hardly the case in other countries where armies perform far greater atrocities and go unpunished.March 10, 2006 at 8:20 am #4255
We intervened in the Russian Civil War on the side of Czar Nicholas II when perhaps we should have just sat that one out and not meddled in the affair. Russian resentment against us was born from our involvement with the “Whites” of the old regime.FDR's use of internment camps against Japanese American citizens and their families is perhaps a blight on our historical record.MacArthur's squashing of the Bonus Army who marched on Washington seeking a raise to their pensions from World War I was definitely an ugly episode in our history.The soldiers who fired the shots at Kent State were perhaps over zealous in their obedience to orders.Kennedy's failure to support the invasion of Cuba was a cowardly act in my book, and we've paid the price for this failure ever since as Fidel Castro mocks us to this day.The corruption of the Grant administration during Reconstruction was certainly an embarrassment to our noble democracy.Nathan Bedford Forrest's creation of the Ku Klux Klan is a no brainer.The Federalists when they issued the infamous "Gag Rule" in Congress to suppress the dissent of the Jeffersonian Republicans was also a blight on our democracy.The 3/5 compromise of the Constitution and the Dred Scott decision were both stupid and evil.Manifest Destiny, the Trail of Tears, and the Donner Party were representations of greed and depravity.Elijah Muhammad and the rise of the Nation of Islam and the black militancy of the Black Panthers who stirred up protests and university takeovers in the 1960's, was a dark period for America as well. Of course these groups arose in reaction to Jim Crow and Segregation.....the other dark side of this coin.Forty-four Forty or Fight! We nearly started a war with Britain to establish the northern border with Canada.....another episode of our "Manifest Destiny."The border wars between Missouri and Kansas (the Kansas Jayhawkers).We made heroic legends out of outlaws like Frank and Jesse James, William Quantrill, Doc Holliday, and Billy the Kidd........and wicked lawmen such as Batt Masterson and Wyatt Earp who killed more outlaws by dubious methods than outlaws killed themselves.Or what about the Know Nothing Party which was created out of the Anti-Catholic sentiment of the mid-nineteenth century? The members of this party feared the Pope would take over America.Or what about the Red Scares of A. Mitchell Palmer in the 1920's and Joseph McCarthy in the 1950's?Watergate.The Hay Market RiotThe Watts RiotThe persecution of the Mormons as they were forced into the Salt Flats of Utah.On and on I could go, but you get the point.March 10, 2006 at 9:40 pm #4256
Don:So are you saying the US is the greatest historical villian of all time? I'm not quite sure what the theme or purpose of your last post was.March 11, 2006 at 6:29 pm #4257
Don if you are throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, okay – but I hope you're not serious about your list of U.S. villainies. Almost every issue you posed is moot. I could argue the historically correct analysis of each itew and mitigate most fears of evil and villany. I am compelled to answer disinformation when I see it, but going over each item is too time intensive for me at the present.I can point out a few mitigations...3/5 compromise of the Constitution and the Dred Scott decision: The Dred Scott decision during Buchanan's administration was not just a state's rights question against federal intrusion, but whether one state's statutes could override another state's. That it denied Scott his freedom rallied the Republicans to preeminence, and Lincoln's rise to the Presidency. The 3/5 compromise was not a pro-Slavery edict - but an anti-Slavery one. It was done to deny Slave owners from conflatingtheir votes with their slaves. If you argue slavery is evil, then both of these things added to goodness and virtue.Red Scares of A. Mitchell Palmer in the 1920's and Joseph McCarthy in the 1950's: Revisionism. McCarthy was the wrong personality to win popular acclaim for his actions, but since Peristroika and Glasnost opened the KGB files we have inarguable documentation now that the Communists he was after were foreign agents emplaced to destroy our government. Much of the appearance of evil was engendered by the media misrepresenting the crimes of those he exposed. Watergate: Nixon was faced with a difficult proposition. There were individuals within his own intelligence agencies who were leaking classified information that looked bad, but only defensible by revealing further classified information. His Plumbers were put together to ferret out the traitors and anti-American operatives in these agencies. Liddy and his men did trace leaks to the DNC, and had Forrest Gump not called the front desk (just kidding) the plumbers might have stopped much of the leaks, thrown many anti-war activists in the Democrat party into prison, stopped much of the anti-war disinformation (Like Conkrite's broadcast that led General Giap to reconsider his surrender after Tet) and as many as 40,000 U.S. soldiers might not have died there.March 11, 2006 at 9:00 pm #4258
Don:So are you saying the US is the greatest historical villian of all time? I'm not quite sure what the theme or purpose of your last post was.
I believe Don was responding to the previous poster who said:
I am sensing some socio-political bias as well as chronological. Are there no villains in the Americas?March 11, 2006 at 11:11 pm #4259
I was merely throwing out suggestions where American actions could be questioned as evil. I wasn't really taking a side on most of them…..except Forrest's creation of the KKK and the Jim Crow/Segregation/Black Panther/Nation of Islam examples. Nemesis: you know me bettert than that. But America has been far from perfect.March 12, 2006 at 12:57 am #4260
Nemesis: you know me bettert than that. But America has been far from perfect.
I was hoping you hadn't fallen off the wagon. 😀 Yeah, we're not perfect but what seperates us in specific (and the West in general) is that we actually strive to better our cultures and societies and actually learn from the past (or we hope we do.) I'm not in favor of ignoring our less than noble episodes, but I'm more opposed to giving them undue prominence in the study of our history. We may have screwed up a few times, but when weighed against the real champs of evil, there's no doubt that we're lightweights.March 13, 2006 at 6:57 pm #4261
There is another issue in listing American transgressions of civility with the all-time most evil perps, in that much that drives this is part and parcel with the whacko conspiracists who see a portion of the iceberg and think they know it all.Look at Ward Churchill stating authoritatively that the US Army deliberately created a smallpox epidemic among the Mandan people in 1837 by distributing infected blankets. Almost every word was non-factual and proven to bemade-up hokum - yet to this day - it is firmly believed to be true.J. Edgar Hoover is laughed at by late-night comedians and Leftist elitists as being a cross-dresser. But it is totally untrue. We know the jilted ex-wife of a mafia husband who she tried to hurt by making up the Hoover story, saying her husband provided him with blond German boys when he came to her husband's mafioso parties. That such a story has become so firmly believed by so many losers is a sad commentary on intelligence in general.The Oswald - KGB connection is another conspiracy that grew huge in whacko circles because no one knew the whole story. Now we know that Morris Childs was a deep mole who sat in the Kremlin's inner sanctum with the Politburo and was there when the news of JFK's assassination came in. Because of his inside knowledge, the FBI knew the Soviets had nothing to do with the shooting, but the FBI's lack of visible investigations into that area left the conspiracists with a ready-made hole to drive their whacko trucks through. They couldn't explain their lack of inbterest in the Kremlin, because to do so would have exposed Childs. Even the CIA didn't know he was a counterspy because Childs knew there was a mole in the CIA.The NIST report scientifically documented every step of the WTC towers collapse - yet conspiracists still say building 7 was "pulled."Much of the CIA'a and FBI's early histories and documents have been declassified, and they show a very honorable effort to do right. Whackos love to say how the CIA propped up dictators - yet their own records prove they only tried to minimize the evil effects of such miscreants.Dumb often trumps truth - so it is wise to not follow whackos in lock step.March 14, 2006 at 5:10 pm #4262jonnyjmboyParticipant
While viewing this stirring dialogue, it has occured to me that there is no one American who can claim the title of worst historical villain. I don't really know why this is, but it is becoming clear that while there are despicable group actions, ocasionally vengeful military leadership, hateful individuals of relatively limited power; there is no one who stands out in my mind as a horrifying villain. Sure, there have been USAmerican leaders who had bad motives, or tried to do bad things, but our government is generally too decentralized, our politics too fragmentary, and our decisions based too much on our own image, or reputation. It is a scary thing to think about, but what if we are relatively guileless only because we conform too much?March 14, 2006 at 7:48 pm #4263
Would Benedict Arnold and the Rosenbergs qualify? What about Sacco and Vanzetti?March 18, 2006 at 3:59 am #4264
While viewing this stirring dialogue, it has occured to me that there is no one American who can claim the title of worst historical villain. I don't really know why this is, but it is becoming clear that while there are despicable group actions, ocasionally vengeful military leadership, hateful individuals of relatively limited power; there is no one who stands out in my mind as a horrifying villain. Sure, there have been USAmerican leaders who had bad motives, or tried to do bad things, but our government is generally too decentralized, our politics too fragmentary, and our decisions based too much on our own image, or reputation. It is a scary thing to think about, but what if we are relatively guileless only because we conform too much?
I think this has to do with a number of things:
- America is a rather young nation. Some of the foreign atrocities mentioned in this thread go back centuries.
- News reporting and information flow is more efficient in leading economies, such as the United States; it would be more difficult to cover up large-scale human rights violations.
- It's more difficult to commit atrocities when you're the world's leading economy. The U.S. economy is a global economy, meaning foreign bodies invest in and depend on us. Any major atrocities would hurt the pocket book of American businesses.
- Laws set in place and the framework established by Enlightened forefathers have helped to reduce corruption and lawlessness.
- America is, and has been, a politically stable country for the majority of its 200+ years of existence. Atrocities will be more likey in areas of political instability or political tyranny.
I don't think I would say that America is too decentralized. Rather, I think it comes down to a matter of accountability.
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