History’s Great Jerks

Yesterday, I baked a good and decent number of vanilla scones and watched three hours of John Green’s “Crash Course: US History”.
My mother had the effrontery to suggest that I was only watching because John Green is attractive.



That is not 100% true.
I mean, it is 100% true that John Green is attractive (let’s not lie to ourselves), but he is also smart (let’s hear it for smarts) and is talking about history (my second academic love, sandwiched between psychology and anthropology), so in reality, I was just indulging that persistent desire to go back to school.

I do feel like we need to adjust our definition of “true American hero”, since the political figures that we idolize had (and have) a tendency to not be as quite as snowy white as we insist they are.
In fact, a number of them were sort-of… jerks.
Big huge jerks.
The moment someone becomes a leader, we start to romanticize them… Sure, he/she owned slaves/ was (is) promiscuous/ tends to get even the most basic of mathematical principles incorrect/ HATES her husband with a passion that could burn all of Europe… but THEY ARE PERFECT AND WE LOVE THEM AND THEY ARE BETTER THAN EVERYONE!!!!!!!!

I do believe that we should stand behind our leaders (with a bit less shrieking… dial it back a notch), but it is both truthful and encouraging (for both our leaders and ourselves) to acknowledge an area of weakness when we’re face to face with it. Holding our leaders accountable is not disrespectful, and making sure that our respect is based on their actual qualities and achievements, not some rose-colored facade we’ve constructed makes all of us stronger, does it not? Do we not look like mildly unhinged imbeciles when we do not recognize the truth about those in authority over us?
Don’t gossip… don’t be critical… don’t sit around thinking about much better you are because you’ve spotted a weakness in someone else, but let’s not lie, okay? If someone was truly a great leader, they would still be great without the white-washing.
Because some of our favorite historical figures were jerks who did great things. Acknowledging that they are jerks does not negate what they accomplished (sometimes inadvertently, but still).

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