Einstein was divorced and married his cousin. Martin Luther King Jr. was a serial adulterer. Marie Curie’s affair with Paul Langevin ended his marriage. Thomas Jefferson fathered children with a woman that he owned. Mother Theresa called AIDS “a just retribution for improper sexual conduct.” Winston Churchill was racist. Gandhi slept naked with teenage girls. George Washington kept an outrageous expense account while President, including $6,000 for liquor. Martin Luther, the reformer, hated Jews. Pope Alexander VI held orgies in the Vatican. Adolf Hitler was an animal rights advocate. Jimmy Swaggart was a philandering adulterer. Leonardo Da Vinci preached against war but designed brutal weapons. Joseph Smith married a fourteen-year-old girl. William Shakespeare couldn’t even spell his own name. Saddam Hussein donated nearly half a million dollars to a Christian church in Michigan. Christopher Columbus murdered thousands of Arawak Indians. Al Capone opened soup kitchens and supplied milk to Chicago school children. Charlemagne regularly murdered those who did not agree with his “Christian” beliefs.
If we condemn the hero for the bad they have done, shall we not also praise the despot for the good? Do you see yourself?
Image credit: Valerie Hegarty. George Washington Melted 4, 2011; canvas, stretcher, paper, acrylic paint, and gel medium; 40 x 30 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York.