I don’t know how many of you have been watching the TV show “The Greatest American” on the discovery channel. The premise is basically this, people vote via email to give the show a list of Americans who, for some reason, could be considered “great”. Then the list is voted on, again by email, to select someone who could be named the greatest American. Greatness is one of those words that is difficult to adhere any one quality to, so there is some contention as to who should be considered. Some people look at life achievement, while others look at personal bests, still others look at contributions made to our country. Now, I’m not going to get into whom I think is the greatest (Benjamin Franklin) but I was curious as to who would be considered the worst.
I was talking about this to a gentleman I work with on a few slow evenings and we came up with a few people who could potentially make the list for The Worst American.
For the purposes of this list we are not considering anyone who is merely annoying or not popular or even someone who has killed people such as Jeffery Dahmer or the BTK killer. Our criterion was someone who has negatively affected our nation or a large group of people here. They have to be Americans so Osama Bin Laden won’t count, and anyone who was working for the Taliban here in America must be a citizen to count. These people must have had a seriously negative impact in some way or another, so no presidents please. Though I’m sure most of you could list a few that have broken laws or been the causes of grief in some way or another. This does not mean that you can’t list some politicians all I’m saying is that Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon are not considerations. I am going to list some of the people who made our list and give reasons for each, if you would like to add a nominee then post a comment with the name of the person and why you think they should be considered. So without further ado…
- Benedict Arnold: In 1779 he sold out America by giving vital information to the British in exchange for a high rank in the British military and lots of money. If he had succeeded it would have ment the deaths of hundreds of West Pointers and soldiers in the field.
- Philip Henry Sheridan: A general for U.S. army in the 1850’s. He oversaw the slaughter of countless Native Americans and helped to force them into reservations (though they were more like concentration camps at the time). He killed non-combatants and women and children as a standard practice. He was responsible for an episode of ethnic cleansing in America.
- Lester Garfield Maddox: A southern racist during the civil rights movement who sold axe handles from his restaurant to beat up any African Americans that tried to eat there. He later ran for governor and was defeated, twice. Then, to add insult to injury, he actually was elected to office. He makes the list because he stood as a figurehead for intolerance and segregation by force.
- Reverend Jesse Jackson: I Know I’m getting in trouble for this one but… While Jesse Jackson raised awareness for cultural issues like civil rights he spun Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s vision of an equal African American society into a victimized one. He has lead people to, almost, start the march backward for blacks in our nation. Now, there are many African Americans that feel they are owed something from their “white oppressors” instead of making strides to better their own situations. While he has made a mockery of his position as a Reverend by having an affair that resulted in a pregnancy and a fatherless child (something he preached against) he has worked almost in reverse to what the United Negro College Fund and the NAACP has been working towards, an educated and equal community.
- William J. Simmons: In 1915 Simmons, a Methodist minister, started what is known as the second, or modern day, Ku Klux Klan. His agenda was bent solely on hurting, harassing, or killing any non-whites in America. He declared himself Grand Wizard and implemented cross-burning and lynching as a standard practice. He paved the way for all subsequent KKK hate groups.
- Jimmy Swaggart: Swaggart was a televangelist throughout the eighties and into the nineties. He used this platform to amass vast amounts of money that never saw any of the charities he claimed to be giving to. He was caught with a prostitute not once but three times and refused to give up his seat in his church. Later he told a news reporter that “[he would] kill any gay person who looked at him romantically”, and then tell God “they just died”.
So there you have it. I would love for any of you readers to contribute to the list. Again just try and make it someone who has negatively affected our society and tell why. Feel free to disagree with any of my selections (I know I’m gonna get it for Jesse Jackson), but please say why. I am hoping to get some interesting entries and maybe get a vote on which the worst is.