The Fuhrer Quartett: German Card Game Featuring 32 Despots . . . Updated Version of Go Fish
Harris Poll (March 2010) found that
67 percent of Republicans polled believe that Obama is a socialist
45 percent believe Obama was not born in the United States
38 percent say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did”
24 percent believe that Obama is the antichrist, a biblical figure who foretells the end of the world.
You have probably noticed that I have a problem with the misuse of words, the bastardization of language, the misrepresentation of terms. I believe that if I am going to use a word, I should at least have a passing acquaintance with its definition and application, and most certainly, that should be the case with anyone. Therefore, I feel a pressing need to expound on the word tyrant and its companion word tyranny.
Tyrant is being bandied about willy nilly by many politicians, would-be politicians, and politicos, and I fear that most of those using the word really do not know what it means. Tyrant derives from the Latin tyrannus, meaning “sole ruler.” The term did not have a negative connotation until 5th century Athens, at which time democrats identified tyrants as those with uncontrolled power. “They easily became violent and mean despots, surrounded by sycophants. Democracy, in this philosophy, was the exact opposite: people were free to speak and power was controled and balanced” (Livius).
“The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy” ~ Charles de Montesquieu
In its most basic sense, a tyrant is a person who seizes power without the means of constitutional or hereditary power. In the classic sense, Plato and Aristotle define a tyrant as “one who rules without law, looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects, and uses extreme and cruel tactics—against his own people as well as others.”
A tyrant places the interests of an oligarchy over the interests of the general population. To clarify, an oligarchy exists when power resides in a small, elite segment of society that wields control for selfish purposes; the oligarchy may be members who are tied by wealth, bloodlines, religious disposition, or who are members of the military, not to be confused with a democracy, which is rule by smaller groups representing the masses by winning power through public support (elections). The main difference between an oligarchy and a democracy is that power can be challenged in a democracy. Aristotle used the term oligarchy negatively to refer to a debased form of aristocracy in which power was in the hands of a few corrupt individuals.
Historically, several names instantly come to mind when speaking of Tyrants: Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Lenin, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Pol Pot. The main thread that ties these rulers together is death. I read one article that compared Mao, Stalin and Hitler by the number of people who died under their regimes:
However, these numbers have factors that affect the totals. For example, under Mao’s rule, almost 30 million people died from famine. Hitler’s totals include those who were casualties of WWII. Statistics on tyrants vary widely. Take Idi Amin, better known as The Butcher of Uganda: The number of people who were killed, tortured, and/or imprisoned by the dictator is listed at anywhere from 100 to 500,000. That’s quite a variance.
Different sources contend that Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge, killed anywhere from 1.5 to 2 million Cambodians from 1974 to 1979. Pol Pot’s attempt to form a Communist peasant farming society resulted in the deaths of 21 to 25 percent of the country’s population from starvation, overwork and executions.
“It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice.” ~ Henry A. Wallace
Okay, why the history lesson? I think that opening today’s news and reading Boehner’s declaration that a “political rebellion” akin to the American revolution of 1776 is brewing kind of set the tone for my day. I mean, every single day I read yet another quote calling President Obama, Democrats, and progressive Republicans tyrants. Take this gem:
“If you are one of those pastors who willfully allow yourself to be used as an agent by some hypothetical tyrannical government to enable an illegal government to carry out their tyranny against the American people you will be guilty of treason . . . What Obama, the Democrats, and the willing weak Republicans are doing is the same as many of the things the King of England was doing. They are enemies of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A final word – Resistance against tyranny is not rebellion. It is righteous!”
“I’m interested in saving our republic from tyranny, ‘Obamacare’ tyranny, any kind of tyranny.”
“Obama’s Health Care Reform Bill along with numerous other actions and proposals are no different than the tyranny from the Crown of England against our forefathers. He and his Marxist allies in Congress and the media need to be quickly retired.”
Marxist allies? Wait. Is he a socialist or a communist? They aren’t the same thing, you know. No wait. You obviously don’t know.
end of part one . . .
Music by Ray Charles, “Drown in My Tears”