The monsters next door

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When I was six or seven years old my school bus driver didn’t like that I was frequently late getting to the bus stop. On two or three occasions, as the last child was boarding the bus and I was running behind by a second or two, he would wait until I came right up to the door before slamming it in my face and driving away. Such behaviour today would be grounds for immediate dismissal, of course, and rightly so. But in the world of the early sixties the rules were primitive and the blame, from my parents and the scholastic Powers That Be, was mine to bear alone.

I knew in my bones that this was wrong, but I lacked the sophistication and the vocabulary to articulate why. I also knew there was something very wrong with the guy himself. I further knew there was no power in that gone-by world I could appeal to for justice. But in that instance I didn’t have very long to wait. The bus driver served up his own justice. Later that same school year he was fired.

Along with driving the bus he was also an occasional substitute teacher. One day he showed up for class drunk. He ordered all the boys out of the room, locked the door, and, as it was explained to me at the time, “tried to kiss all the girls in the class.” Again, that was the world of the early sixties. Today he wouldn’t have merely been fired, he would have been arrested and criminally punished.

From that experience I learned that evil people are seldom evil in only one way. Evil likes company. I’ve had that perception confirmed many times since. For example, I’ve never known a bigot who wasn’t execrable in some other way. Tax cheats tend to cheat in other ways, on their spouses, on their employers, for example. And so on. Corruption corrupts everything else.

But there were still surprises in store for me, still lessons to be learned. That there are corrupt and evil people in the world I’ve known since my very early days, as noted. But that there are so many of them is a lesson I have learned relatively recently.

It’s no accident that people who are corrupt and evil are attracted to the Republican Party. It’s also no accident that criminal indictments and scandals are recurring themes among Republicans. In fact, criminal indictments and sexual scandals are over-represented among Republican politicians, relative to the general population, to an extent that is frankly shocking.

For example, it was recently revealed that Donald Trump’s onetime “spiritual advisor” Robert Morris, a founding pastor of the Dallas-based Gateway megachurch, was accused of molesting a 12 year old girl. Don’t be surprised if other victims come forward later. In such cases they frequently do. The number of people from the world of MAGA who have been indicted or implicated in scandals are too numerous to name here. But we’re no longer surprised, we see it every day. Monsters are attracted to the monstrosity that is the MAGA world. And there are millions of them. And they vote.

We used to think that there was something diabolically special, something even unique, about the evil of many of the German people of the 1930s and 1940s. Historians spilled a lot of ink trying to explain it over the years. I hope we now understand just how commonplace they are.

In every population about a third are just plain evil. We even know what ideologies they are attracted to. They may not themselves be Klan members or neo-Nazis, but they’re attracted to the same ideologies and movements. And there are enough ignorant or indifferent or just plain stupid people out there to vote for those ideologies to fill in the gaps and get people who support those ideologies elected.

Our job is to educate the casual voter, the voter who just doesn’t know any better. But we will never solve the problem of the evil of the rest. Our target demographic is fairly easy to spot. They’re the apolitical, the naive, the indifferent. They’re the ones who accept anti-Biden propaganda at face value and regurgitate the same cliches like “they’re all corrupt.” They’re the ones who don’t like to think or have no talent for it. They’re not necessarily corrupt, they’re just simple. Spend your time convincing them. You’ll have no luck with the monsters next door. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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