I get that my worldview is pretty fucked up. I say some pretty out there things from time to time. Sometimes people agree with me. Sometimes they don’t. The nice thing about the internet is that, since people sort of naturally seek out content that appeals to them, it sometimes makes me seem like I’m way more normal than I probably am. It creates a sense of justification that makes small little egomaniacal nutcases like myself feel justified. But at the end of the day. I’m batshit crazy. I get that. I don’t think I’m alone. I think most people are batshit crazy. We’re not bad people, really. We’re basically good people trying to make the world a better… or at least a tolerable place. Unfortunately, the world is also batshit crazy, so really we’re all all just a bunch of nutcases doing the best we can.
A lot of people turn to religion it seems. Religion is a wonderful thing. It gives you a sense of right and wrong. It gives you a roadmap to morality and encourages you to be a better person, so that one day God, Allah, Vishnu, Odin, Gaea, HOVA, the Spaghetti monster or Ceiling Cat or whoever the fuck you believe in will grant you some sort of eternal reward wherein you live forever, with no suffering, reunited with your dead pets, jamming out to Enya music on a cloud somewhere and performing unseen subtle miracles for your descendants whenever you’re not busy fucking a never-ending parade of virgins under the watchful eye of your saintly grandmother who you’ve missed so much since you were little and is somehow ok with sharing all of this with you (look, I’m not judging any particular religion. I just figured I’d use the best parts of all of them).
Other people seem to turn to patriotism. Patriotism is a wonderful thing. It gives you a sense of belonging as thought you are a part of the chosen people who live in the greatest nation on earth and that the only way you can maintain that privilege is to fight tooth and nail to make sure that you maintain the vaguely defined core principles that you have distilled as important from your own worldview and assumed that the aggregate of all other true patriots obviously believe is somehow systematically best for all of us as a whole so in order to allow us all to continue to pursue happiness we must clearly extend/protect the conservative/progressive common sense pro/anti gun/abortion/drug/prostitution/welfare/queer/religious/net-neutrality laws that obviously the totally not terrorist opium addicted slaveowners that founded this country would want us to continue to this day.
I prefer to get my morality from comic books. Don’t judge me, Spiderman and Batman are bastions of moral goodness with an easy to digest messages and at least I know they’re fictional. The point is, it doesn’t really matter to me where your moral code comes from. It doesn’t even matter to me if your morality differs from mine. I find humans to be innately interesting in their complexity.
As such I am reluctant to call most people evil. See, even when I disagree with someone like, say Donald Trump, I personally believe that there is a certain internal logic that makes sense to him. I don’t for a minute believe that he is a simple megalomaniacal madman out to do whatever he can to ruin this country. In fact, I believe quite the opposite. I believe that Trump (and any of his followers) are coming from a pure and honest place. I believe that he really does think that if we ban Muslims from this country we will all be safer. I believe that he really does believe that building a massive wall along the southern border will secure our country from drugs and rape. I believe that his supporters feel the same and that they’re all honestly good people who want the best for their children. I also believe that you’re delusional morons… but really, my sense or morality was developed by Stan Lee so who the fuck am I to judge. There is a certain logic that goes into it. “Hey, there are bad people here. I don’t want bad people. I know, I’ll build a wall to keep them out!” Sure, it’s a logic born of xenophobia, a lack of understanding of foreign and domestic policy, and an ignorance to how ladders and airplanes work. But there’s a logic in there….
The problem with morality is that it’s important but not really universal. Since morality is what we use to convince ourselves that we are good people and doing the right thing, it follows that anyone who opposes our morality must be “immoral” and therefore evil. I always think it’s amazing how any time there is a horrific massacre, be it Sandy Hook or Pulse, both sides of any related issue will accuse the other of politicizing the incident all while politicizing it themselves. Pro-gun people are mad that Obama is using the tragedy as an excuse to “take their guns away” while anti-gun people don’t understand how someone can want to defend the rights to own guns. Both sides think the other is evil. In a sense, I even understand the motivations of the shooter… or say the Westboro Baptist Church types who are defending the massacre. “Those horrible fags are out there spreading sin and driving this world into the depths of hell. Good on him for taking them down to defend good upstanding straight people.” Not exactly evil… Wrong! Horrible… Asinine… but not exactly EVIL… these are horrible people who are justifying their actions by thinking they are performing for the greater good. There is a logical consistency there. A horrible scary logical consistency…. but it’s there.
The nice thing about religion and comics (patriotism less so) is that there ARE clear examples of Evil to choose from. There’s no real motivation for Satan. He simply does bad shit because he’s bad. If you read the bible you have Satan the bad guy and Jesus the good guy. Satan does evil. Jesus does good. Nice and simple. The same thing happens with a lot of superhero comic books. I’m not talking about the good ones. I’m not talking about complex stories with ambiguous motivations that need to be unpacked. I’m talking about the trivial ones. Nice simple good vs. evil stories. There’s a bad guy with an evil plan. Lex Luthor wants to destroy Metropolis, killing a bunch of people unless we give him billions of dollars! Why is he doing it? Because he’s evil, greedy bastard, that’s why! And it’s Superman’s job to stop him! Go punch him, Superman! Logic!
Even if you don’t buy into the motivations of “they’re actually trying to do good” you can at least write up any of these people to just being downright evil. That’s fine. Maybe Omar Matteen had no innate desire to “save humanity” in his execution of 50 innocent people. Maybe he was just an evil asshole super villain who wanted to kill people and did a horrible thing and thank god the police finally killed the motherfucker. I’m actually totally ok with that sentiment. Maybe you really do think Trump is a megalomaniacal billionaire super villain willing to destroy the country in order to make a quick buck for himself. I’m fine there. Maybe you even believe that Barack Obama is the culmination of a 55 year plot by African Muslims in Kenya to have a foreign national installed into the presidency of the United States… TWICE… just to dismantle the second amendment. Pure supervillainery. I’m even on board there. Nice simple motivations born of nothing but pure evil. We know the good guy, we know the bad guy.
Of course, most Lex Luthor stories are more complicated than that. Usually he does have some greater motivation, often involving his theory for making the world a better place. He’s often demonstrably wrong… at least in terms of the narrative. But he has some sense of internal motivation that makes him believe he is right even while Superman and all decent human beings reading it can see that he’s wrong. Really, he basically IS Donald Trump.
But he’s NOT Newt Gingrich.
And this is the one that I totally just DON’T get. Yesterday, in an appearance on Fox and Friends, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich proposed a reformation of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) as a solution to the problem of radical Islam, saying that
“Let me go a step further, because remember, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, and Orlando involve American citizens. We’re going to ultimately declare a war on Islamic supremacists and we’re going to say, if you pledge allegiance to ISIS, you are a traitor and you have lost your citizenship. And we’re going take much tougher positions. In the late 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt was faced with Nazi penetration in the United States. We originally created the House Un-American Activities Committee to go after Nazis. We passed several laws in 1938 and 1939 to go after Nazis and we made it illegal to help the Nazis. We’re going to presently have to go take the similar steps here.”
Yep…. he actually said that. See, I just don’t understand that. I actually want to give him the same level of backhanded “benefit of the doubt” that I give Trump. I want to say your idea is misguided but I see where you’re coming from. Barring that, I want to at least be able to look at him and say “Oh, I get it. Newt Gingrich is an evil super villain trying to destroy America!” Except I don’t think so…. SUPER VILLAINS ARE SMARTER THAN THAT!!!
Somehow, someway, Newt Gingrich, born in 1943, raised during the HUAC era, member of the House of Representatives for twenty years (starting only four years after it was dismantled), missed the fact that no person alive today seems to think that it was actually a good idea. HUAC was a 30 year government sponsored witch hunt that basically accomplished nothing good. It ruined careers and LIVES of lots of hard working people suspected of being communists, some of whom were (which wasn’t actually illegal) and many of whom weren’t all while refusing to investigate the KKK because they were “an old American institution.” Before now I wasn’t aware of a single republican or democrat politician in modern times who thought it was a good idea.
Who is Newt trying to impress here? If he was using misguided altruism then this would make sense if it was never tried before… or even if he thought he was proposing something new and different and didn’t realize he was asking for HUAC. If he were pure evil you’d think he’d at least be able to pick a GOOD scheme for world domination. You know, like having a kid born off of American soil, raising him as a secret terrorist and then installing him in the presidency 46 years later. That’s the long game. That’s real villainy!
But what kind of self-respecting super villain looks through the worst failed plans of the super villains who came before him and says “Oh, that one! That failed great last time! Lets do that again? Change something? No… lets just keep it the same and announce it and tell people it was the failed plan just in case they miss it. This will be great!”
Can someone call the Great Lakes Avengers to take down this idiot?