bureaucracybusters

HEROIC COWARDICE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 25, 2018 at 12:07 am

“One man with courage,” said the frontier general (and later President) Andrew Jackson, “makes a majority.”

Yet many “heroes” come out of the woodwork only after danger is safely past.

One such “hero” is Rex Tillerson, the former Secretary of State under President Donald Trump.

On May 16, he addressed graduates of the Virginia Military Institute:

“If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society among our leaders in both public and private sector, and regrettably at times in the nonprofit sector, then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”

Rex Tillerson official portrait.jpg

Rex Tillerson

Tillerson’s remarks have been widely seen as a not-so-veiled criticism of his former boss, President Trump.

Tillerson had served as Secretary of State from January 20, 2017, until Trump abruptly fired him on March 13, 2018. There had been increasing tensions between the two, as Tillerson struggled to run foreign policy without interference by Trump.

It was during a visit to Chad and Nigeria that Tillerson learned of his firing—via a Trump tweet.

Tillerson’s remarks on the importance of truth would carry far greater weight had he shared them publicly while Secretary of State.

On May 9, the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker blog noted: During Trump’s 466 days in office, he had made 3,000 false or misleading statements. That works out to 6.5 falsehoods each day.

“I was never courageous,” the Russian poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, wrote in his poem, “Conversation With an American Writer.” “I simply felt it unbecoming to stoop to the cowardice of my colleagues.”

During the 1950s, many Americans found it easy to stoop to the cowardice of their colleagues.

From 1950 to 1954, United States Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.) terrorized the nation, accusing anyone who disagreed with him of being a Communist—and leaving countless ruined lives in his wake.

Joseph R. McCarthy

Among those civilians and government officials slandered as Communists were:

  • President Harry S. Truman 
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Actor Orson Welles
  • Playwright Arthur Miller
  • Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow
  • Columnist Drew Pearson

Finally, in 1954, McCarthy overreached himself and accused the U.S. Army of being a hotbed of Communist traitors. Joseph Welch, counsel for the Army, destroyed McCarthy’s credibility in a now-famous retort:

“Senator, may we not drop this?….You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Later that year, the Senate censured McCarthy, and he rapidly declined in power and health.

  • Senatorial colleagues who had once courted his support now avoided him.
  • They left the Senate when he rose to speak.
  • Reporters who had once fawned on him for his latest sensational slander now ignored him.
  • Eisenhower had sought McCarthy’s support during his 1952 race for President. He had even refused to criticize McCarthy for a totally slanderous attack on former Secretary of State George C. Marshall. As Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Marshall had advanced Eisenhower’s military career, even picking him as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II.
  • Now Eisenhower joked that “McCarthyism” was “McCarthywasm.”

Nor did mass cowardice end with the McCarthy era.

On July 12, 2012, former FBI Director Louie Freeh released a damning report on serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky.

Freeh had been hired by Penn State University (PSU) to discover the truth about its former superstar faculty member.

As the assistant football coach at PSU from 1969 to 1999, he had used the football facilities to sexually attack numerous young boys.

Jerry Sandusky

But Sandusky was regarded as more than a second-banana. He received Assistant Coach of the Year awards in 1986 and 1999, and authored several books about his coaching experiences.

In 1977, Sandusky founded The Second Mile, a non-profit charity serving underprivileged, at-risk youth.

“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” Freeh stated.

College football is a $2.6 billion-a-year business. And Penn State is one of its premiere brands, with revenue of $70 million in 2010.

PSU’s seven-month internal investigation, headed by Freeh, revealed:

  • Joe Paterno, head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, was aware of a 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky.
  • So was president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz.
  • In 2001, then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary reported to Paterno that he’d seen Sandusky attacking a boy in the shower.
  • Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz then conspired to cover up for Sandusky.
  • The rapes of these boys occurred in the Lasch Building–where Paterno had his office.
  • A janitor who had witnessed a rape in 2000 said he had feared losing his job if he told anyone about it. “It would be like going against the President of the United States,” Freeh said at a press conference.

In 2011, Sandusky was arrested and charged with sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period.  On June 22, 2012, he was convicted on 45 of the 48 charges. He will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

On the day the Freeh report was released, Nike—a longtime sponsor for Penn State—announced that it would remove Paterno’s name from the child care center at its world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

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