August 14, 2003
My contribution to the Worst Americans list

Yeah, I know, John Hawkins put up the list on Tuesday. I overslept, OK? Here's my list, with explanations:

  • John Wilkes Booth, Charles Guiteau, Leon Czolgosz, Lee Harvey Oswald - Killing a President makes you a bad American.

  • Anthony Comstock - Did more to suppress sexual freedom and freedom of expression than John Ashcroft will ever be able to do.

  • Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis - For their role in the Civil War.

  • Cap Anson - The leader of the movement to ban blacks from major league baseball in the 19th century.

  • Father Charles Coughlin - The "Father of Hate Radio", an anti-Semitic Fascist sympathizer whose broadcasts reached up to 40 million people.

  • Confederate Civil War veterans Captain John C. Lester, Major James R. Crowe, John D. Kennedy, Calvin Jones, Richard R. Reed, and Frank O. McCord - Founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

  • David Duke, George Lincoln Rockwell, Richard Butler, Matthew Hale - Their faithful descendants.

  • Robert Hansson and Aldrich Ames - For selling out their country for money.

  • Joe McCarthy - The most contemptible politician ever to disgrace a national stage.

  • Pat Robertson - What sets him apart from the rest of the greedy and hypocritical televangelist crowd is his longstanding business relationship with the genocidal Al Qaeda supporter Charles Taylor.

Notes: Obviously, every list will overlook some number of worthies for inclusion. Any glaring omissions from my list are the result of me putting it together in too short a period of time and thus simply not thinking of them.

The Klan founders list came from this ADL page. Everyone else named Nathan Bedford Forrest. However you Google it, my intent was to name the founders of that organization for their well-deserved place on the Worst Americans list.

I'm not sure how much value there is in this sort of exercise, but lists are easy to relate to and are often a good springboard for discussion, so what the heck. But I think next time, I'll stick to something a bit less controversial (Run-DMC fans excepted).

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 14, 2003 to Society and cultcha | TrackBack

I still say that Lee Harvey Oswald was a patsy. But I guess that's a whole other argument, so never mind.
Another person deserving an honored place on the list would be "Bull" Connor.

Posted by: Mike Thomas on August 14, 2003 8:58 AM

If you put Cap Anson on the list for leading the movement that put the "color barrier" in baseball, then you must include all of the owners and comissioners up to 1947 (with one or two exceptions) and include players such as Dixie Walker, who started a petition to keep Jackie Robinson off of the Dodgers for allowing it to continue.

Timothy McVeigh deserves a spot for the Oklahoma City bombing, and I would include all of your list except for Robert E Lee. Lee was a Southern general more due to his being from Virginia than anything else. I do like the choice of Pat Robertson for his hypocritical dealings with Charles Taylor.

One name that I'm surprised didn't make anyone's list is William Randolph Hearst. When you consider that he was responsible for "yellow journalism" and the format of the bulk of the tabloid newspapers out today, he certainly wasn't "fair and balanced" ;) .

Posted by: William Hughes on August 14, 2003 9:17 AM

Colonel John M. Chivington, who ordered the Sand Creek massacre, in which between 200 and 600 Indians, 2/3rds of them women and children, were murdered. Chivington ordered that no prisoners be taken and even that the children be killed because, in his infamous words, "nits make lice."

There were many Americans who thought all Indians were savage animals and should be exterminated. A few, like Colonel Chivington, acted on those sentiments. These actions surely make them among the worst Americans ever to stain our country.

Posted by: Robert Boyd on August 14, 2003 9:33 AM

Like I said, I just flat overlooked some people. McVeigh came to me in a forehead-slapping moment a few hours after I'd mailed my list to John Hawkins. I could have retroactively added him in, but that felt dishonest. Bull Connor is worthy of inclusion as well.

Most of my choices were representative of something, Cap Anson being a particular example. I agree, many more people conspired to segregate baseball. Anson gets the "honor" for being the first influential person to do so. As for Dixie Walker, I guess the distinction in my mind is that what Anson did had an effect that influenced the game for decades. What Walker (and others at that time) did was ultimately pointless.

As for Robert E. Lee, he made a choice to take up arms against the United States. He was ultimately more loyal to his state than to his country, and I think that's wrong.

WM Hearst is an interesting choice. I hadn't thought of that, but if I were to do it again I'd consider him.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on August 14, 2003 9:45 AM

Robert, I confess I'd never heard of Col. Chivington, but given what you say he'd certainly fit right in on the list. I considered including Lord Jeffrey Amherst, but the rules specified "Americans only", so that was that.

I'd guess, by the way, that one possible reason for the inclusion of Andrew Jackson on many lists would be his treatment of Indians.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on August 14, 2003 10:10 AM

Another name to consider is Will Hays, best known for the censorship of Hollywood movies from the 30s through the 60s. The Production Code and his office was what led to numerous changes in films during this time.

Posted by: William Hughes on August 14, 2003 10:45 AM

Great list.

Posted by: B. K. Oxley (binkley) on August 14, 2003 11:27 AM

Great list, but any list on this topic that doesn't include Carrot Top is incomplete, in my opinion.

Posted by: Mark on August 14, 2003 12:52 PM

I can see Jefferson Davis, but Robert E. Lee?! Lee was on the wrong side for certain, but his motive was simply to fight for his state, which wouldn't have been considered woefully ignoble then -- it's anachronistic to condemn him for that.

I hardly think he merits placement on a 'worst Americans' list, especially one that doesn't mention, say, FDR, who put an entire ethnicity in concentration camps, or Woodrow Wilson, who brought Jim Crow to the federal government and provided moral support to the KKK (i.e. saying 'Birth of a Nation' was 'history writ like lightening').

Posted by: Owen Courrèges on August 14, 2003 1:05 PM

Like I said, Robert E. Lee made a choice, and his choice was not to fight for America but against it. That amply qualifies him, in my opinion. Besides, many people did things in the past that weren't considered ignoble at the time that we'd roundly condemn today.

BTW, here's a thought experiment for you: Given how incompetent a lot of the early Union generals were, how much shorter do you think the Civil War may have been if Lee had chosen to fight for Blue instead of the Gray? As someone once said, our actions have consequences.

Bearing in mind (again) that my list is full of oversights, I'll agree that Wilson (whom Mac Thomason cited for the reasons you list) is worthy of consideration. As for FDR, I'll simply say this: I didn't consider him for the same reason that I didn't consider Richard Nixon and Henry "I Love The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" Ford: He did good things, more than enough in FDR's case, to outweigh the bad things. No one else on my list did anything remotely good enough to counterbalance the bad things they did.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on August 14, 2003 1:33 PM

I'll nominate what ever sumbitch thought up the designated hitter.

Posted by: Patrick on August 14, 2003 5:17 PM

Where are the women?

Posted by: Mirele on August 16, 2003 8:15 PM

What about the president that presided over the alien and sedition acts??? Can't remember the name... James Madison????

Posted by: Left of RATM on August 16, 2003 10:57 PM

Mirele, if you have any suggestions, I'm open to them.

Left of RATM, I think that was John Adams. Obviously, I think he did some good things, too.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on August 17, 2003 7:48 PM