December 28th, 2005

Ten Worst Americans

It seems to be the time of year for Lists of Ten. The beautiful Alexandra of the beautiful blog All Things Beautiful has challenged bloggers to name the Ten Worst Americans of the past 230 years.

I might be able to come up with some better candidates than the following if I were to do a couple of hours’ research on this. But right off the top of my head, these are my choices, take ‘em or leave ‘em (offered in no particular order):

(1) Benedict Arnold can’t possibly be left off such a list. His name has become synonymous with “traitor,” and his aim appears to have been money and self-aggrandizement, rather than any higher priniciple.

In this, Arnold seems to have something in common with…

(2) Aldrich Ames. Betrayal after betrayal, cold as ice. And the motive? Filthy lucre, and perhaps just the sheer thrill and gamesmanship of it all.

Very much like…

(3) Robert Hanssen, another long-time spy who seemed to thrive on the idea of spying and betraying.

And now we jump to…

(4) Father Coughlin, radio broadcaster and Fascist-admiring anti-Semitic bigot of the 30s. He’d fit right in today, I think, by the looks of this quote:

Stalin’s idea to create world revolution and Hitler’s so-called threat to seek world domination are not half as dangerous combined as is the proposal of the current British and American administrations to seize all raw materials in the world. Many people are beginning to wonder who they should fear most–the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination.

But far worse were…

(5) lynch mobs. Murder, bigotry, and disrespect for the rule of law.

Speaking of murder, we have…

(6) Timothy McVeigh. Mass murderer, American terrorist.

And then there’s our own American Brutus….

(7) John Wilkes Booth, who thought he’d be applauded for bringing down the tyrant Lincoln.

Someone who might have helped bring down a real tyrant, but didn’t, was…

(8) Walter Duranty, Pulitzer-prizewinning liar, whose mendacity helped millions die under Stalin when the truth might have alerted the world to what was going on.

Speaking of mendacity (although of a much less consequential level than Duranty’s in terms of lives lost) we have a personal unfavorite of mine….

(9) Michael Moore, another propagandist with a marked lack of devotion to the truth.

And, in the category of charismatic and destructive charlatans, there is…

(10) Jim Jones. His descent into madness and true evil cost the lives of close to one thousand people. If you want to learn how he managed to exert that sort of control over so many, read this extraordinary account of how it happened.

27 Responses to “Ten Worst Americans”

  1. jg Says:

    Neo: Let’s vote and give the ’10 Worst’ winners AllPaidExpense trips (one way) to Baghdad/your choice Iraq, as ‘IED’ ‘shields’. Shields, as YOU KNOW, WHAT Hollywood’s best (Sean Penn) were willing to die for during the Invasion. It’d be body to body contact with the terrorists, as in Direct negotiations. No longer having to ‘complain’ about US troop deaths, the SHIELDS could actually DO something positive (none of them have yet) to help peace. What Leftist icon could we most do without from Hollywood, or politics, or the MSM?
    Whoa–how do we settle for Just 10!!

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    Give me a break. You might not like his politics, but Michael Moore alongside lynch mobs and Jim Jones? Preposterous.

    Michael Moore is gotterdamerung hilarious. I was watching him give a speech on CSPAN, after his introductory thundering applause, he proceeded to go into this psychological multiple personality disorder act. And it was so real, I had thought Moore had really really lost it once and for all. But alas, it was a fake, but woah was it convincing. He went on for a full minute and a half when speaking in two, or three, or four different tongues. And double that number of personalities for sure.

    I have a very high regard for your opinions, and I realize you did not research your list, but I find it very disappointing coming from you.

    I swear Neo, do these people know what they are giving out when they open their mouths to pantomine their typing? Having a high regard for unresearched opinions indeed.

  3. aqualung Says:

    Whaddaya think of George Bush’s devotion to the truth? Whaddaya think of the entire Neo-conservative movement’s devotion to the truth?

    Just call me “we’ll be greated as liberators” and “the insurgency’s in its last throes” aqualung…

    Jesus, the world you nut-jobs inhabit is so…oh, I dunno, …dishonest???

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Neo,

    I have a very high regard for your opinions, and I realize you did not research your list, but I find it very disappointing coming from you.

    To be included on a list of Worst Americans, shouldn’t there be some long lasting and unfavorable consequence on American culture, economics or politics?

    Benedict Arnold may have been a traitor, but his message to the British was intercepted and the mission foiled.

    Timothy McVeigh was an American terrorist for sure, and what he did was despicable, but the consequences were better security at government buildings.

    Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssesn were traitors, but in the end we still won the Cold War.

    Michael Moore is pathetic, but his goal to influence a presidential election failed.

    Booth assassinated a president, and there is an argument that the country took a different and harmful direction because Lincoln was no longer in charge, but that is an indirect consequence of his actions.

    Jim Jones??? Lynch mobs??? Evil yes, but not culture/history -changing personalities.

    I am not familiar with Father Coughlin.

    Walter Duranty is the only person on your list I think qualifies for the distiction of Worst Americans, but even his actions hurt the Russians more than us, and the MSM would probably be the same today even without him.

  5. tequilamockingbird Says:

    Neo-neocon:

    Give me a break. You might not like his politics, but Michael Moore alongside lynch mobs and Jim Jones? Preposterous.

    They weren’t your suggestions, but Jimmy Carter and Abraham Lincoln among the ten worst Americans? Preposterous again.

    A loyal Canadian – does that disqualify me from this discussion? -tequilamockingbird

  6. Ymarsakar Says:

    Most Americans pass an easy standard that Davis and his generals fail: we’ve never led an armed rebellion against the U.S. government in defense of slavery, much less one that resuted in hundreds of thousands dead and a million or more wounded and maimed.

    Most Americans understand to be magnanimous and respectful of the surrendering party. It seems your personal beliefs steer you away from that tradition, and I don’t think for the better.

    And I remind you, that Jefferson also didn’t help create a Constitution that allowed slavery to keep on existing(But he did), and indeed grow even stronger. I remind you that real world problems are not as simple as supporting or ending slavery.

    Read about the Civil War, from both view points, and you will see that there were 2 sides, containing human beings, with real motivations. It isn’t as cut and dry as you portray it. The “Good Guys” against the “Bad Slavers”. It almost never is. As Neo has many times written about, human actions is never as simple as we want it to be.

    You can start here, Link

    If the people who lost families, brothers and husbands, could forgive. Then why do you feel you have the right to feel indignant over Davis’s fate.

    2. Abraham Lincoln, responsible for the deaths of over 600,000 Americans in a totally unneccessary war of imperialism.

    As anyone might witness. A lot of people have their beliefs of what and whom did most harm. It has nothing to do with the truth or the facts or the numbers, or Good and Evil for that matter.

    Northerners don’t like Davis, Southern gun culture guys don’t like Lincoln. What else is new. I tend to prefer cosmopolitanism instead of old blood debts.

    While Bowman might be being ironic, there are plenty of people I know who would agree with number 2.

  7. Henry Bowman Says:

    You left off the two worst American Presidents:

    1. Jimmy Carter, who by his utter lack of action encouraged world-wide terrorism and is arguably responsible for the current mess we are in

    2. Abraham Lincoln, responsible for the deaths of over 600,000 Americans in a totally unneccessary war of imperialism.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Would also mention:

    Franklin Roosevelt. Was responsible for Federal hyperdrive. Popularized the concept of President King.

    Jimmy Carter. Consistently gave favor to and is now often in the company of true tyrants.

    Norman Thomas. Fellow traveler and useful idiot. Helped popularize the foolishness that still plagues us all.

    Lynch Mobs are certainly not nice, but if not why would you not mention the current race war waged by blacks against whites when the number of victims is rather much larger in the later case?

    Your Walter Duranty nomination assumes that his editors had no idea. I doubt that was the case.

  9. timmah! Says:

    Most Americans pass an easy standard that Davis and his generals fail: we’ve never led an armed rebellion against the U.S. government in defense of slavery, much less one that resuted in hundreds of thousands dead and a million or more wounded and maimed.

    Loyalty is not an absolute good. If Davis’s rebellion served a greater good than loyalty to America, then that might excuse him; we might even honor him as a man who put all in jeapordy to defend a higher ideal. But his rebellion was to defend the propagation of slavery to new American territories. All their honor was null when Davis and his men chose slavery above their country and their oaths to defend it.

    That he rebelled not in the service of a greater good, but in the name of seizing for himself the labor of other men, even to the extent of denying their most basic liberty, and solely for his own enrichment, makes him a traitor. Literal traitor against the legitimate government of the United States, and traitor to the ideals on which the United States was founded.

    The magnitude of his rebellion makes him the worst traitor in history. He sought to end the Union. How is that not seeking to destroy America? What greater harm could the United States suffer?

    That he was not hanged is a testament to the mercy of Lincoln, and does not excuse his perfidy in service of slavery. That his generals fought according to the laws of war does not diminish the evil of fighting to preserve and extend slavery.

  10. Loyal Achates Says:

    What about Jefferson Davis? Robrt E. Lee? Nathaniel Bedford Forrest? J. Edgar Hoover? George Wallace? Joseph McArthy? Any of these ring a bell?

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    Jefferson Davis was a rebel. Not a traitor.

    His Generals fought with honor, according to the laws of war back then, and surrendered with their dignity, and their lives, intact.

    Being a patriot also demands that one recognize when other people believe sincerely that what they are doing is the best thing for their families.

    Jefferson Davis was part of the South taking political disagreement to a new level, however, but while he did many things that didn’t turn out well, the one thing he didn’t do was to actively seek out to destroy America.

    One could say Lincoln didn’t actively seek out to free the slaves either, but intentions do matter in the end. As well as consequences.

    And without that intent to harm, then there really is a lot more evil Americans that would rank much higher.

    Otherwise, you would be calling this man an anti-American.

    But during the perilous discussions of those times Mr. Davis did not align himself with any disunionists North or South. He says for himself, “My devotion to the Union of our fathers had been so often and so publicly declared; I had on the floor of the Senate so defiantly challenged any question of my fidelity to it; my services, civil and military, had now extended through so long a period and were so generally known, that I felt quite assured that no whisperings of envy or ill-will could lead the people of Mississippi to believe that I had dishonored their trust by using the power they had conferred on me to destroy the government to which I was accredited. Then, as afterward, I regarded the separation of the States as a great, though not the greater evil.”

    His support of the “war policy,” as the Texas annexation measure was sometimes designated, was ardent and unwavering, in the midst of which he was elected colonel of the First Mississippi regiment of riflemen. His decision to re-enter military life was quickly carried into effect by resignation of his place in Congress June, 1846, and the joining of his regiment at New Orleans, which he conducted to the army of General Taylor on the Rio Grande. He had succeeded in arming his regiment with percussion rifles, prepared a manual and tactics for the new arm, drilled his officers and men diligently in its use, and thus added to Taylor’s force perhaps the most effective regiment in his little army. He led his well disciplined command in a gallant and successful charge at Monterey, September 21, 1846, winning a brilliant victory in the assault on Fort Teneria. For several days afterwards his regiment, united with Tennesseeans, drove the Mexicans from their redoubts with such gallantry that their leader won the admiration and confidence of the entire army. At Buena Vista the riflemen and Indiana volunteers under Davis evidently turned the course of battle into victory for the Americans by a bold charge under heavy fire against a larger body of Mexicans. It was immediately on this brilliant success that a fresh brigade of Mexican lancers advanced against the Mississippi regiment in full gallop and were repulsed by the formation of the line in the shape of the V, the flanks resting on ravines, thus exposing the lancers to a converging fire. Once more on that day the same regiment, now reduced in numbers by death and wounds, attacked and broke the Mexican right. During this last charge Colonel Davis was severely wounded, but remained on the field until the victory was won. General Taylor’s dispatch of March 6, 1847, makes special complimentary mention of the courage, coolness and successful service of Colonel Davis and his command. The Mississippi regiment served out its term of enlistment, and was ordered home in July, 1847. President Polk appointed Colonel Davis brigadier-general, but he declined the commission on the ground that that appointment was unconstitutional.

    If that is the definition for anti-American, then I dare say most Americans would not surpass the standard.

    As you can guess by the style, this was not written circa 20th or 21st century.

  12. timmah! Says:

    How about Jefferson Davis, on behalf of all those who took up arms in order to destroy America in defense of that practice most inimical to American ideals, slavery. How anti-American can you get?

  13. Brad Says:

    Anon 1:29 is right; it was the Polk administration.

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    Very nice Neo, the way you tied each person down the list with a comment under the prior listee, was what I found as interesting, if not more so, as the listees themselves. What can I say, I admire skill as much as knowledge in all manners.

    I’ve always wondered, why do people pronounce Halcyon as “Hali Con” instead of Hal K On?

  15. Anonymous Says:

    el barbudo

    Not in defense of Slick Willie, but “most corrupt?”

    Does this short list ring a bell?
    Lynn Nofziger
    Michael Deaver
    Caspar Weinberger
    James Watt
    Elliott Abrams
    John Poindexter
    Oliver North
    Robert McFarlane
    and on and on
    And that was in the ________administration?

  16. el barbudo Says:

    This will cause a howl of protest, but Bill Clinton has to be added as his was the most corrupt administration in the Nation’s history, with Hillary along side the two are the best liars still alive in the country today. And this said by someone in his own party, former Senator John R. Kerrey, who received a Medal of Honor for his service in Viet Nam.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    benning
    Didn’t notice the other people on my list. Bad is bad, on both sides of the fence.
    Typical

  18. chuck Says:

    In a 1979 interview, Lillian Hellman said the following on McCarthy, Nixon and their disciples:

    Lillian Hellman, there’s one for the list. Lillian Hellman, of whom Mary McCarthy opined, “Every word she writes is a lie—including ‘and’ and ‘the.’” Lillian Hellman, who lifted the fictional character of Julia for her Pentimento memoirs. Lillian Hellman, Jo Hammet’s “the Boogie Man of my childhood.” Lillian Hellman, who cheated Dashiell’s children out of their inheritance.

    Ok, Lillian Hellman isn’t really one for the list but she wasn’t all that wonderful either.

  19. Dr Victorino de la Vega Says:

    I think Alexandra forgot president Nixon, Rumsfeld’s beloved mentor…

    Ah the Halcyon days of Nixonian efficacy, when you could eavesdrop ad lib on those pinko fifth columnists and other Vietophile demagocrats!

    When in doubt, President Bush recommends to err on the side of more power to the executive branch. The man has a point: why not err on the side of security? After all, to err is human, and the American people as just fallible earthlings…

    And if we have to give up either security or freedom, we should surely give up freedom as professor Abraham Maslow brilliantly argued in his hierarchy of human needs and motivations … blah blah

    In a 1979 interview, Lillian Hellman said the following on McCarthy, Nixon and their disciples:
    “We were now facing a world we had never known before and had not expected…They were men cashing in in a quite scandalous way on perhaps normal and expected fears…McCarthy could have only sprung out of a certain war hysteria. I think something worse could happen in the future”

    Prescient words in many ways…

  20. benning Says:

    “Father Coughlin” – forgot about him. But he was before my time.

    Pretty good list, Ma’am. Sanger would be a good addition, as would Jesse Jackson. But yours is fine as it stands.

    Not surprised by Anonymous’s list with Nixon and Kissinger. Typical.

    I would add the NYT. The newspaper of record is a nothing more than a propaganda sheet for leftist looniness.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Joe McCarthy
    Richard Nixon/Henry Kissinger
    Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell
    Noam Chomsky
    Tom DeLay
    Jesse Jackson

    eh…wrong blog

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Your attempts to cast Father Coughlion as some kind of leftist icon are pretty silly, neo-neocon. Better luck next time.

  23. Goesh Says:

    It would be interesting to see the list Liberals would set forth…. I have a crisp $20.00 says George Bush would be in the top ten

  24. chuck Says:

    Father Coughlin, radio broadcaster and Fascist-admiring anti-Semitic bigot of the 30s.

    The guy is actually pretty interesting as a specimen of the populist movement of the time. He was a major Roosevelt supporter who turned to opposition because he thought Roosevelt sold out to the industrialists. Coughlin’s big economic idea was available money, which reminds me a bit of William Jennings Bryan and the Free Silver movement: “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

    By the way, many socialists of the time were anti-communist. They were fighting for the same ecological niche and the Communists played dirty. Other socialists saw their future in other alliances, the Belgian De Man, for instance, cooperated with the conquering Nazis in order to realize his dream of a universal European socialist state. His protege Spaak went on to help found the EU. It can be tricky making moral judgements of past politicians.

    OK, for worst guy, how about adding Henry Wirz who ran Andersonville prison during the Civil War? Our very own concentration camp commandant, an immigrant Swiss doctor, whose last words on the gallows were, “I know what orders are, Major. And I am being hanged for obeying them.” Shades of the future.

  25. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    I started my own list and only got to six so far. I had promised myself I wouldn’t read anyone else’s until I finished my own.

    I don’t know what came over me, neo.

    I considered many of the same names.

  26. Sigmund, Carl and Alfred Says:

    Superb list.

    I would add Margaret Sanger- not because of her role as an abortion supporter, but rather, because she was rabid racist, anti semite and otherwide despicable human being.

    It is a shame the pro choice movement couldn’t find a better icon.

  27. Yitz Says:

    I was disappointed not seeing Jimmy the Dhimmi Carter’s name on here. He is a disgrace to the USA and after his last embarrassing trip to the Middle East when he was warned by the US State Dept. NOT to talk with Hamas leaders, he should be stripped of all his benefits as an ex president, and his diplomatic passport revoked. He has meddled too many times in US foreign affairs. He is a failure as a President, as an American and as a human being

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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