by Jeff Huber
I’ve tentatively concluded that people who do destructive things in this world fall somewhere on a continuum that contains “true believers” at one pole and “bad apples” at the other. In between, in no particular order, come the likes of Jesuits, Doublethinkers, sociopaths, lunatics and blind rats. For the time being, we’ll call this continuum the “Malevolence Syndrome.”
People at the extremes are one way or the other. True believers, say the kinds of Catholics who have no qualms whatsoever about protecting a pedophile priest, are the kinds of fanatics who, though otherwise sane enough to roam the streets, will believe whatever madness their masters tell them is true.
Bad apples are the closest things to evil that can exist in this world, and maybe in the next one as well. I’m enough of a Taoist to refuse to label human beings “evil,” not even Dick Cheney. Labeling people as “evil” grants them, at least in the mind of the person applying the label, extra-natural powers that they do not possess.
Any time you hear political leaders and their spin physicians refer to adversaries as “evil ones” or “evildoers” or call a competing regime an “evil empire” or an “axis of evil,” those leaders are trying to frighten you into going along with shenanigans you wouldn’t otherwise tolerate. If there’s a hint of anything remotely resembling evil in bad apples, it’s that unlike most of us, they don’t fear retribution for their actions, even in the afterlife. Dick Cheney, in fact, relishes his prospects for descending straight to the ninth level of hell upon his demise, immediately taking over as Satan’s number two man and re-shaping perdition from the bottom up. Maybe when Bill Kristol joins him in the beyond they’ll collaborate in forming a Project for the New American Hell.
Jesuits, like the order of lawyer-priests who cooked up the arguments that justified the Spanish Inquisition, can fabricate a means-justify-ends scenario to rationalize any course of action they care to take. Orwellian Doublethinkers are capable of simultaneously holding diametrically opposed beliefs. Sociopaths lack consciences and don’t feel normal emotions, but unlike bad apples they do fear the consequences of their actions and unlike true believers they’re crafty enough not to get talked into doing things that will get them into trouble. Lunatics are easily manipulated crazy people and blind rats carry baggage that causes errors in their moral vision, that blinding baggage usually being an ego the size of John McCain’s.
Young Mr. Bush’s dwarf-star psyche pretty much covered the entirety of the malevolence spectrum short of qualifying his as a truly bad apple, which as we’ve noted was a role aptly filled in that administration by Big Dick.
A major mitigating aspect that plays into macro-antisocial behavior is one that I call the “family factor,” and it’s a close relative of the Jesuit phenomenon. The family factor says that one may justify sins both venial and mortal if as long as they somehow dovetail into the rubric of taking care of one’s family. This explains the behavior of so many or our high-profile news stenographers and spokesmodels. They could refuse to copy or read verbatim the propagandistic pap our ministries of truth feed them, but then where would the mortgage payment on the dream house come from, or the Ivy League tuition? I’m willing to guess that at least ninety percent of the world’s misery is a direct result of the general public going along with the mad schemes of megalomaniacs because of the family factor.
Sociopathy seems to be the dominant trait in the public behavior of Uncle Bob Gates, our Secretary of Peace. A bureaucratic-savant milquetoast, Gates has risen to the highest levels of the American power paradigm by massaging subordinates and superiors alike in all the right places, taking credit for the accomplishments of those more talented than he is and delegating blame for his transgressions to bystanders whose self-preservation instincts are inferior to his.
Gates has garnered hosannas for his performance as head of our “defense” department, but what he’s actually done is allow his corps of loose-cannon generals run amok, bombing the bejesus out of Muslim weddings and performing other deeds of derring destruction that will ensure have a steady enough supply of bad guys to sustain the Pentarchy’s cherished Long War in perpetuity. Gates had also solicited laurels for his shows-of-effort at trimming the defense budget. His headline grabbing “decision” to close the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia will have had about as much impact on the deficit as flushing your toilet has on the ocean temperature off the coast of Peru, and that’s assuming the Command ever really closes. His recently announced plan for $78 billion of proposed cuts over five years won’t survive five weeks of Congressional molesting and he knows it.
Then there’s Gates’ whackadoo promise that he will find $100 billion in savings if Congress gives the money back to the military for “modernization.” Jesus, Mary and Curly Joe. That’s like picking up a group of addicts at rehab, handing them the money they’ve saved by being off drugs, and then dropping them off in front of a crack house.
That Gates will parachute from a high-flying career as a betrayer of the public trust into a platinum sunset typifies the polluted moral environment that produced the recent escapade where the Crosshair Kid, twenty-something lunatic, opened fire on an elected Democrat and a liberal judge and more than a dozen other people who had the poor sense to be seen in public in Arizona with an elected Democratic and a liberal judge.
We get Bullseye Barbie protesting that noooooooo, the animations on her web site of crosshairs aimed at Democrats in close political races couldn’t possibly have motivated that kind of behavior. Then we get Barbie’s Tea Bag co-quack Glen Beck ranting on the air about how, nooooooo, neither Barbie nor he nor anyone else on rabid radio or FOX News ever imagined they could incite such violence, even though Beck himself is celebrated for having said on the air that he was thinking about killing liberal film maker Michael Moore.
But what upset me most about this incident was national ass Jon Stewart coming out on his Daily Show Monday night and talking about how nooooo, the right-wing media hate merchants can’t be held responsible for things like what happened with the Crosshair Kid. They’ve just been funnin’ around for the last decade or so with all that hat and violence talk. Nobody ever takes them seriously, do they?
I don’t think Stewarts’ a bad apple, but he displays numerous symptoms of Malevolence Syndrome, particularly Jesuit traits, Double-thought patterns, family factoring and a self-image bigger than McCain and Joe Biden’s egos put together.
Unfortunately for the future of American ethics, Generation X, which will someday become America’s adult population, has adopted Stewart as its combination Mark Twain and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Wise up, kids. Don’t let the little man with the cable comedy program flick your moral compass. He’s not that wise, and he’s more concerned in getting yuks than he is with the welfare of humankind.
One other thing to keep in mind about Stewart: when you have as many writers as he has and you have to mug as much as he does to get laughs from the sympathetic audience that staggers off the street and into his studio like the one he plays to every night, you’re not that funny either.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is the author of the critically applauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a satire on America’s rise to global dominance.