19 April 2006

Worst Americans

A while back, Alexandra von Maltzan at All Things Beautiful proposed an interesting blogging subject. Who would you say are the ten worst Americans in history?

Interestingly, I stumbled across this via Captain's Quarters, an evidently very right-leaning blog. The Captain's Quarters list goes:

  1. J. Edgar Hoover
  2. John Wilkes Booth
  3. Benedict Arnold
  4. Nathan Bedford Forrest
  5. Stephen Douglas
  6. Richard Nixon
  7. Joe McCarthy
  8. Aaron Burr
  9. John Walker, Jr.
  10. Jimmy Carter

What's interesting here is not that I choke on Jimmy Carter—who turns out to be a very popular choice among right-leaning bloggers. (Jimmy Carter?!?) Rather, it's that I can get behind at least half of these choices. Nathan Bedford Forrest, yep. Benedict Arnold is a respectable choice, sure. Tricky Dick and Tailgunner Joe, oh yeah. Hoover, hell yes.

I did some surfing around, and interestingly there's a lot of overlap in folks' choices, whether they're left, right, or sideways. Hoover almost always makes the list. Maybe they go for Jefferson Davis instead of Nathan Bedford Forrest, but it's it's obvious that they both represent the same basic target. And so on.

But there's one who seems conspicuous by his absence from most folks' lists: Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb.

If you're going there, you might ask why not Oppenheimer, father of the atom bomb? Oppenheimer acted out of fear that Hitler would get the Bomb first, came to regret his deadly invention, and fought the rest of his life for nuclear disarmament and sanity. Oppenheimer is a tragic figure, not a villain. And the H-Bomb really is categorically worse than the A-Bomb. The original A-Bomb is horrific, yes, but the H-Bomb literally has the power to kill the entire human species.

Teller was not only the mastermind of the development of the H-Bomb, he was a great advocate of its development. It truly might not have happened without him. He went on to advocate for countless examples of the worst arms race madness of the Cold War, from extensive nuclear testing to enormous weapons stockpiles to the Star Wars defense system. He helped destroy Oppenheimer's political influence by contributing to claims that he was a "security risk." He advocated using nuclear bombs as tools to strip-mine the American southwest. Each step of the way he played it for his own enrichment and aggrandizement, turning the original Faustian arrangement between scientists and the American military that happened at Los Alamos into a permanent fixture of American society.

He definitely makes the list.

1 comment:

TheWayOfTheGun said...

Nixon is not such a bad guy: