HEROES can be Villains. Villains can be heroic. The historians have the last word because their slant is our only view very often. Recite statistics of only the worst or exclusively the best of any person and a distorted conclusion is easy to reach.
"By the end of his term, President Ronald Reagan's 138 administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations."
He is often cited as one of the best five Presidents.
Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner was, until 2008, officially considered a terrorist by the United States. During the Cold War, both the State and Defense departments dubbed Mandela’s political party, the African National Congress, a terrorist group, and Mandela’s name remained on the U.S. terrorism watch list till 2008.
The C.I.A. tipped off government authorities where to locate Nelson Mandela. Mandela was imprisoned in 1964 after being arrested and charged with sabotage, specifically a campaign against the country's power grid, and plotting to overthrow the government.
Charles Lindbergh was the first solo flyer to cross the Atlantic in 1927. He was celebrated like no other person of his era. Hero?
Before you answer, read his words:
In 1939, he wrote, “We can have peace and security only so long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood, only so long as we guard ourselves against attack by foreign armies and dilution by foreign races.”
P.S. He was big on Adolf Hitler.
Benjamin Franklin: Hero and Founding Father? Certainly.
He was also a pervert! Franklin would stand naked in the windows of his Paris home and expose himself to the women who would pass by. Further, he bragged about his sexual conquests of dozens of old ladies and advised his young fans about the advantages.
Albert Einstein gave us theories of Relativity and Gravitation as well as the succinct equation for converting matter into energy E=mc2.
He was, however, cruel and demanding of his 1st wife, Mileva, writing out for her his list of demands:
that she always do his laundry and serve him three meals in his room, that she does not expect to travel with him or be seen with him in public unless necessary, that she does not expect an intimate relationship with him, and that she be obedient to him in front of their children--he forced her to abide by if she wished to remain married.
Andrew Jackson: War hero, president, the reason why Florida belongs to the US, and the inspiration for today’s Democratic Party, Jackson did his fair share of good things.
This slave-owning president was almost singlehandedly responsible for the American policy of Indian removal, mainly of Native American tribes from the South, resulting in the Trail of Tears and the death of thousands of native peoples.
Heroes and Villains can pretty much be summed up by the passage of time, the slant of historians supporting their image or denigrating them in their books.
Abraham Lincoln was very much a man of his time. He was self-educated in youth and among the common people. During his presidency, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, effectively freeing kidnapped African slaves from their captors.
Does it matter what his personal views were? If it doesn't, he is a hero.
If it does...read on.
“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.” – 1858
People are just people, neither ALL bad nor ALL good.
Perhaps the real problem is our binary thinking: Either / Or.
Why not, BOTH?
Has RELIGIOUS indoctrinations given us the naive and one-sided binary view
Of humanity requiring us to accept and praise / reject and damn our fellow human beings who step up as leaders?
People are complicated.
Do you want to be judge by your worst behavior? Only your best behavior?
Do you wish to be regarded solely on the basis of the thoughts you have whether you act on them or not?
If it suits our purpose to frame them one way or the other we tilt the scales this way or that. We easily fool ourselves by self-blindness and polarizing exercises of black and white thinking.