Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Final Solution: Was Hitler a New York Liberal at Heart?

Was Hitler a nice guy? Could he be as charming as Donald Trump? Was he a New York liberal, at heart? Would Hitler have made a good dinner companion? How was he as a conversationalist in his famous Bavarian lair, the Berghof?  Same with Mussolini, Franco, Idi Amin and now Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. We tend to look at people in the context of their bad deeds whether it means exterminating a race, destroying irreplaceable antiquities or inflicting unspeakable tortures on captured enemies. But we often forget that man is a social animal and at the end of a hard day's work raping and severing heads, every one needs to relax in the company of friends and toss back a few cold ones. Of course, there are those who can’t leave their work behind—even when it means filling social media with psychopathic tweets. Their murderous impulses spill out and before they know it they’re living out the famous banquet scene at the end of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus where Titus serves up a pie whose filling is made up of the body of the Goth empress Tamora’s two sons Chiron and Demetrius. "Why, there they are, both baked in this pie, / Whereof their mother daintily hath fed, / Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred." The character of Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson in the Kubrick adaptation) is another example of a sociopath who is not a good dinner companion, letting the pressures of work spill over into his social life—to the point where he uses an axe to hammer his way into the room in which his frightened wife is hiding. The serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer apparently was an unpleasant character, but on the other hand Ted Bundy was known to be bright and engaging. Bundy would have been good dinner company. Even those whose destructive impulses lead to mayhem can be taught to have good manners, to wash the blood of their hands, as it were, and to don the appropriate attire for a cocktail party or charity affair. A good dictator will get much further in life if he takes his SSRI and learns to say “put it there pal” as he shakes hands and look his companions straight in the eye.

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