This post was inspired in large part by a tidbit about whiskey heir James Jameson (#1, below) in a book that I’m reading called “Crossing the Heart of Africa” by Julian Smith. It may have also been influence by having recently seen the surprisingly awesome “Wonder Woman” film, in which a central theme is the notion that good and evil vie for each person’s soul. (Note: I say “surprisingly” only because the DC movie universe has mostly been floating stinkers in recent years.)
I should note that when I started researching, there were an astounding number of candidates for the slots on this list, and so you may have a favorite example that didn’t make the list (please feel free to comment on any prime examples that I missed below.) As for criteria, I tried to avoid including people who just said horrifying things, who acted in an irresponsible or nit-witted manner that didn’t rise to the level of evil, or who were forced to make “lesser of two evil” decisions during time of war or national emergency.
I also didn’t have the time or energy to get into the he-said-she-said of politicians, because in America ideological types accuse people from the other party all manner of evil, constantly. So I didn’t wade into whether George W Bush personally flew the planes into the Trade Center towers via drone-style cockpit override technology, or whether Barack Obama had all nuclear spent fuel jettisoned onto the Arctic Circle to manufacture a climate change crisis. (Note: neither of those is a real thing, please don’t quote.) But, beyond that, I tried to pick candidates that would come as a surprise, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone that a politician did evil. (Frankly, people would be more surprised if they didn’t.)
5.) Chuck Berry: He had secret tapes made of women doing their business in the toilets at his restaurant. I don’t want to be moralistic and get into people’s kinky proclivities with this list, but this breach of trust rises above and beyond.
4.) Alexander Graham Bell was a dick to deaf people. The inventor of the telephone advocated for eugenics, and, specifically, trying to breed the deaf out of existence. Sure, if you invent the phone, the people who can’t use it might not be your favorites, but trying to eliminate them… that’s just cold.
3.) Mohandas K. Gandhi: I said I wouldn’t pick on purely verbal hideous acts, of which Gandhi had a number from suggesting rape victims were responsible to supporting honor killings to racial slurs against Africans (quite a shocker for someone battling British racism so vehemently.) As far as actions, sleeping nude with his under-aged great-granddaughter is pretty vile behavior. It’s said that he was trying to challenge his celibacy, but you don’t need to bring kids into whatever oddities you need to prove to yourself.
2.) Che Guevara: He had countless people executed without trials or due process. I included him because I assume that not all among the vast number of people who wear his face on their t-shirts are aware of this dimension of his character. Certainly, he was no worse than Lavrentiy Beria (Stalin’s Secret Police Chief), but I’m unaware of any idolization of Beria.