The Return of Mad Men

Waxing nostalgic? Thinking about those bad boys from what seems like an entirely different culture? Well, this week takes us out of our comfort zones, as we consider how we will deal with the young Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim-Jong-un, after news reports of his seeking to instill fear in South Korea and the US, with intimations of nuclear weaponry and potential attacks. While listening to a news program on NPR today, one of the esteemed guests was asked if this meant that Iran was no longer our greatest nuclear threat. The guest replied that now North Korea is a more urgent nuclear threat. There was not much consolation in that response. I’m so glad that Dennis Rodman recently took a jaunt to hang with Kim Jong-un; a guy he seemed to get along with quite well. That should have put us on alert before this week!

Of course throughout history there have been numerous mad men. The kinder term in modern politics has been strong men–men who lead authoritarian regimes who claim to create a new nation, while oppressing, and /or murdering en masse, citizens and other innocents.  The old cartoons (and for our younger viewers of The Austin Powers series), these Boris Badinoff, Lex Luthor, The Joker, Dr. Evil….etc…. are ridiculous and comical. Hitler, Stalin,Ceausescu, Pol Pot,Pinochet, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden….just to name a few… There are so many more to name just in the last 50 years.The list really starts from the beginning of time, and continues on past today.

These despots are of a particular category of mad men. There are also the Adam Lanzas and the James Eagan Holmes types,who are unstable and well armed, and open fire on innocent people. They are indeed dangerous to society, but at least are not in positions of political power.

This week also marked the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was a man with a vision of racial equality achieved through non-violent civil disobedience  who was gunned down. While we remember with heavy hearts,and continue to  extend civil rights to all, we must also remember that MLK Jr. was considered a threat by J Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI . Who were the real mad men?

The uptick in inflammatory rhetoric this week, emanating from the cloistered nation of North Korea’s media, is threatening and a bit confusing. It is difficult to discern what’s possible in this situation. While there are many in this country who offend other’s political opinions (and sensibilities), we must be vigilant in distinguishing agitators from true mad men. Violence and threats of violence must always be taken seriously, while strengthening  democracy through non-violent means and expanding civil rights must always be championed.

Boy, am I looking forward to starting the week off with Don Draper and Roger Sterling!