Are these Historical Figures Truly Good/Evil?

Watch
ronki23
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 6 years ago
#1
Lots of figures in history have been criticised for being painted good or evil and have their 'secrets' that are overlooked

I'm sure there are lots of links

As it's late, i'll list a few of them:

8. Yasser Arafat- won the Nobel Peace Prize but was leader of the PLO, a terrorist organisation

7. Muammar Qaddaffi- had a lot of state welfare under his government, particularly free water and electricity. He also pioneered the AU

6. Winston Churchill- didn't like Indians but respected Arabs

5. Lenin-helped found the USSR

4. Joseph Stalin- defeated 80% of the German army in WWII

3. Mother Teresa- one criticism was the money her foundations generated went into opening more shelters instead of improving the quality of the existing ones (very simple bedding, cold baths, pulling of maggots from skin without anaesthetics)

2. Gandhi- Once said racist things about black people and people criticised how he slept

1. Adolf Hitler- Liked Japanese people and respected their Korean and Chinese neighbours. He liked Indians, Iranians and Arabs too.

BONUS: Was there ever a President that 100% of the USA actually liked? I always though the 3 best Presidents were:

Bill Clinton- America's boomtime president, oversaw peace between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan. Didn't want to spend money and lives in Iraq

Abraham Lincoln- Freed the slaves and reunified America

FDR- Helped stop the Great Depression
0
reply
thebiggy
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#2
Report 6 years ago
#2
interesting post. i think british PC culture is so obsessed with pre-determined narratives that rational thought about certain historical characters or events is considered the worse thought crime imaginable.

it really is an intellectually suffocating environment at times.
0
reply
Veni Vidi Fugi
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#3
Report 6 years ago
#3
At the risk of being blunt, nobody (unless you believe in angels or demons) is ever 'truly good' or 'truly evil'. The idea of moral absolutes is simplistic at best. Indeed, even labelling anyone 'good' or 'evil' requires a moral value judgement from the labeller, which is to say you have to choose your benchmark of evil. Many would, for example, label slave-traders 'evil' now, but that same judgement would not have been made two hundred years ago (by most, at least). Thus somebody cannot be called good or evil without explicit reference to a value system.

More to the point, the study of history isn't about who was 'good' or 'evil'. It's about what happened, and why.
3
reply
John Stuart Mill
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#4
Report 6 years ago
#4
Joseph Stalin- defeated 80% of the German army in WWII

Yeah well he didn't really have a choice really did he with the German army trying to invade his country.

Adolf Hitler- Liked Japanese people and respected their Korean and Chinese neighbours. He liked Indians, Iranians and Arabs too.

I guess this makes up for the Holocaust.
2
reply
Habsburg
Badges: 10
Rep:
?
#5
Report 6 years ago
#5
(Original post by ronki23)
1. Adolf Hitler- Liked Japanese people and respected their Korean and Chinese neighbours. He liked Indians, Iranians and Arabs too.
That's not a redeeming feature. For example, Indian and Iranian peoples, as the term 'Indo-Aryan' suggests, fit well within Hitler's world view. He "liked" them precisely because he was a racialist, not in spite of it.
0
reply
Jjj90
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#6
Report 6 years ago
#6
Churchill is "evil" because he "didn't like Indians"...? Give me a break.

The fact that you even put him in the same list as Hitler is borderline offensive. In case you never noticed, people of a certain vintage tend not to be quite as open minded when it comes to race as people nowadays, that doesn't make them evil, we're all a product of society and the same can be said of Ghandi.

This is what people do. It irritates me big time, you take our modern morals and apply them to people that were born 100 years ago and judge them accordingly. I'm sorry but that's just downright ignorant.
0
reply
Cleomenes
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#7
Report 6 years ago
#7
(Original post by ronki23)
Lots of figures in history have been criticised for being painted good or evil and have their 'secrets' that are overlooked

I'm sure there are lots of links

As it's late, i'll list a few of them:

8. Yasser Arafat- won the Nobel Peace Prize but was leader of the PLO, a terrorist organisation

7. Muammar Qaddaffi- had a lot of state welfare under his government, particularly free water and electricity. He also pioneered the AU

6. Winston Churchill- didn't like Indians but respected Arabs

5. Lenin-helped found the USSR

4. Joseph Stalin- defeated 80% of the German army in WWII

3. Mother Teresa- one criticism was the money her foundations generated went into opening more shelters instead of improving the quality of the existing ones (very simple bedding, cold baths, pulling of maggots from skin without anaesthetics)

2. Gandhi- Once said racist things about black people and people criticised how he slept

1. Adolf Hitler- Liked Japanese people and respected their Korean and Chinese neighbours. He liked Indians, Iranians and Arabs too.

BONUS: Was there ever a President that 100% of the USA actually liked? I always though the 3 best Presidents were:

Bill Clinton- America's boomtime president, oversaw peace between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan. Didn't want to spend money and lives in Iraq

Abraham Lincoln- Freed the slaves and reunified America

FDR- Helped stop the Great Depression
Well I'll just give my opinions, but nothing is so black and white as this:

8 - For the reason you said, I would say bad

7 - But he was still a vicious dictator, definitely bad.

6 - Pros and cons, rampant alcoholic and warmonger, and very arrogant, and an elitist. But he did bring Britain through World War II. Neither good nor bad.

5 - Things only turned bad for the USSR after his death, so I would probably view Lenin as good.

4 - If you even have to question whether Stalin was good I would doubt both your historical knowledge and sanity. Bad.

3 - Definitely bad. Watch the documentary "Hell's Angel" by Christopher Hitchens, he sums it up better than most can.

2 - Pros and cons again, but I cannot remember the cons off the top of my head, yet I'd still say there are more pros, so good.

1 - He brought Germany out of one of the worst economic crises the world has ever seen, but that doesn't do anywhere near redeem him. See my answer for Stalin.

For the Presidents question, I sincerely doubt it except perhaps George Washington and John Adams.
Clinton - a highly immoral and questionable man, see Christopher Hitchens' work on him, again sums it up better than myself.
Lincoln - only freed the slaves to win the support of Britain and France in the Civil War by blackmail, and his refusal to let the Southern States succeed purely because he needed their revenue can be seen as tyrannical.
FDR - no complaints, probably the best the US has ever voted in.

I'd also nominate Jimmy Carter for one of the best US Presidents. They haven't had a lot of other really good ones: though I'd say the worst are; Truman, Eisenhower and W. Bush.
0
reply
Ziplot
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#8
Report 6 years ago
#8
(Original post by ronki23)

Winston Churchill
He is the perfect example of how history can be diluted. How history is written by the victor. Portrayed as one of the greatest British people ever, apparently our best ever Prime Minister, because he lead Britain to victory. Of course, he deserves every ounce of credit in that respect.

Yet, when you study him, you realise he was a terrible politician, handled protests with extreme force (sending in the military), a drunk, a propagandist, messed about with the economy. Thought he would win the 1945 election automatically because of the war so they didn't bother campaigning.

If you tell that to people who have not looked at Churchill and only know him for his WW2 feats then they will ignore you, say you're lying and accuse you of hating Britain.
0
reply
Cleomenes
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#9
Report 6 years ago
#9
(Original post by Ziplot)
He is the perfect example of how history can be diluted. How history is written by the victor. Portrayed as one of the greatest British people ever, apparently our best ever Prime Minister, because he lead Britain to victory. Of course, he deserves every ounce of credit in that respect.

Yet, when you study him, you realise he was a terrible politician, handled protests with extreme force (sending in the military), a drunk, a propagandist, messed about with the economy. Thought he would win the 1945 election automatically because of the war so they didn't bother campaigning.

If you tell that to people who have not looked at Churchill and only know him for his WW2 feats then they will ignore you, say you're lying and accuse you of hating Britain.
Finally someone else who shares my opinion.
HOWEVER whilst all that is true, have we actually ever had a better Prime Minister?
0
reply
Ziplot
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#10
Report 6 years ago
#10
(Original post by Cleomenes)
Finally someone else who shares my opinion.
HOWEVER whilst all that is true, have we actually ever had a better Prime Minister?
Churchill was a good war leader, but a terrible Prime Minister. Arguably, to some, Thatcher was the best Prime Minister we've had.
0
reply
Mysteryfaith
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#11
Report 6 years ago
#11
(Original post by Ziplot)
Arguably, to some, Thatcher was the best Prime Minister we've had.
I don't think even Thatcher's most ardent supporters could claim she was the best Prime Minister we've had, because even if you look at the good points of her leadership, there are too many bad points to say that it was a "cruel to be kind" situation. The way she divided the country was so monumental that it remains 20 years after she left Parliament, and even some time after her death - if a leader was that divisive, I don't think they could have any kind of claim to the title of 'best ever'. :P (I'm not a supporter of hers, by the way, but I do see some of the positive aspects of her time in government).


(Original post by ronki23)
BONUS: Was there ever a President that 100% of the USA actually liked?
I don't think it's possible that any president could be 100% liked, as there's always been at least two parties competing for office in the USA - obviously for the victor, the victor's party and those who voted for the victor, times would be good, but for anybody on the losing side, they would already have an instinctive dislike of whoever won. Every president had their share of controversy, and I think it can pretty much be said that there was no leader of anything who was universally liked by everybody, although history may portray them to be so. :P Bill Clinton wasn't well-liked towards the end of his term in office because of the whole affair debacle, Lincoln had his political enemies (when the Civil War still raged, he could have had half of the country, the entire South, hate him for his abolishionist sentiments) and even Franklin D. Roosevelt had critics who suggested that he spent too long in office or that the New Deal meant too much power was being consolidated in the White House. George Washington could be considered for the title, too, but even he would have his opponents.
0
reply
scjman
Badges: 11
Rep:
?
#12
Report 6 years ago
#12
I would agree that human nature is too complex to simply divide historical figures into saints and sinners. I would also agree that people viewed people differently based on their position. Take Lenin for example. To many of the Russian people, he was a hero who helped liberate them from the incompetent rule of the Provisional Government and ended Russia's unpopular involvement in WWI. However, to many in the Western world, he was considered a ruthless dictator and the ideology for which he stood was deemed a threat to the very structure of Western society. Also remember this saying: "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"
0
reply
Asolare
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#13
Report 6 years ago
#13
Mother Teresa is always painted out to be 10 x better than she actually was, as for the others I really have no opinion
0
reply
Jjj90
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#14
Report 6 years ago
#14
(Original post by ronki23)

Abraham Lincoln- Freed the slaves and reunified America
Ah, good old Abe. Lucky old Abe I should say.

Without any shadow of a doubt Lincoln is the single most over-hyped, 'over-rated' historical figure ever to live.

He did nothing. He didn't want to free the slave. He would almost certainly never have been re-elected had Sherman not taken Atlanta in the knick of time. He is remembered because he was shot. He is remembered because he happened to be President at a very important moment in American history; but most of all he is remembered because America has a lack of interesting figures.

It's a shame the the likes of Robert E Lee lie neglected, simply because they fought for the south.

If someone can convince me that Lincoln deserves the undying credit that he gets i'd be happy to be convinced.
0
reply
Fezzick123
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#15
Report 6 years ago
#15
(Original post by Cleomenes)
For the Presidents question, I sincerely doubt it except perhaps George Washington and John Adams.
Clinton - a highly immoral and questionable man, see Christopher Hitchens' work on him, again sums it up better than myself.
Lincoln - only freed the slaves to win the support of Britain and France in the Civil War by blackmail, and his refusal to let the Southern States succeed purely because he needed their revenue can be seen as tyrannical.
FDR - no complaints, probably the best the US has ever voted in.

I'd also nominate Jimmy Carter for one of the best US Presidents. They haven't had a lot of other really good ones: though I'd say the worst are; Truman, Eisenhower and W. Bush.
George Washington is as close as you are going to get to a president with 100% support: all 69 members of the Electoral College voted for him (the only time that's happened). However, some people are going to have voted for the other candidates e.g. John Adams.

Don't know much about Clinton so not going to comment there. Lincoln was committed to preserving the Union at all costs. Freeing the slaves was not one of his initial war goals, but it was the only way he was going to get the UK and France on side. Plus it would damage the South's economy, thereby helping to preserve the Union. Yeah he might have eventually become a genuine abolitionist but he didn't start out as one (just read his first inaugural address for proof of this). When you said he 'didn't let the Southern States secede' it was because there was no provision in the Constitution for the secession of states. As a result, Lincoln wasn't being 'tyrannical', he was just upholding the Constitution as is the President's job.

Gotta love FDR.

Jimmy Carter was not a good president. He's been a great ex-president (done lots of human rights work etc) but he's ranked as one of the worst presidents in American history. He failed to resolve the international and domestic issues which faced him, hence the reason why he was absolutely crushed in the 1980 election. They've had plenty of other good presidents: Jefferson, Jackson, Roosevelt, Wilson etc
0
reply
zgb1
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#16
Report 6 years ago
#16
Muammar Gadaffi was in fact a great person and leader, unfortunately the media in the West have made a smear campaign against him.
0
reply
JoshuaMorrison94
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#17
Report 6 years ago
#17
It depends entirely on individual definitions of 'good' and 'bad'. What characterises someone as being the good guy or the bad guy? America is certainly portrayed as 'good', a champion of democracy and so on... and yet how much 'good' have they done internationally. That's questionable.

And people like Lenin, he oversaw the red terror which saw many of his opponents brutally killed, as well as advocating a civil war in order to root out and destroy enemies within the new socialist state. Yet, it can be argued that this was necessary in order to ensure the survival of the state which he had a conviction was morally right to do. A socialist state, in his opinion, was one which all countries must strive towards since it epitomised democracy and freedom from oppression of the people.
0
reply
Baron of Sealand
  • Political Ambassador
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#18
Report 6 years ago
#18
People are dynamic - Nobody is completely good or evil. Hardly any act is completely good or evil to everybody.
0
reply
carlisomes
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#19
Report 5 years ago
#19
(Original post by ronki23)
Lots of figures in history have been criticised for being painted good or evil and have their 'secrets' that are overlooked

I'm sure there are lots of links

As it's late, i'll list a few of them:

8. Yasser Arafat- won the Nobel Peace Prize but was leader of the PLO, a terrorist organisation

7. Muammar Qaddaffi- had a lot of state welfare under his government, particularly free water and electricity. He also pioneered the AU

6. Winston Churchill- didn't like Indians but respected Arabs

5. Lenin-helped found the USSR

4. Joseph Stalin- defeated 80% of the German army in WWII

3. Mother Teresa- one criticism was the money her foundations generated went into opening more shelters instead of improving the quality of the existing ones (very simple bedding, cold baths, pulling of maggots from skin without anaesthetics)

2. Gandhi- Once said racist things about black people and people criticised how he slept

1. Adolf Hitler- Liked Japanese people and respected their Korean and Chinese neighbours. He liked Indians, Iranians and Arabs too.

BONUS: Was there ever a President that 100% of the USA actually liked? I always though the 3 best Presidents were:

Bill Clinton- America's boomtime president, oversaw peace between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan. Didn't want to spend money and lives in Iraq

Abraham Lincoln- Freed the slaves and reunified America

FDR- Helped stop the Great Depression
So it's not black and white. and?

Is any person absolutely good or evil?
0
reply
carlisomes
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#20
Report 5 years ago
#20
(Original post by Jjj90)
Churchill is "evil" because he "didn't like Indians"...? Give me a break.

The fact that you even put him in the same list as Hitler is borderline offensive. In case you never noticed, people of a certain vintage tend not to be quite as open minded when it comes to race as people nowadays, that doesn't make them evil, we're all a product of society and the same can be said of Ghandi.

This is what people do. It irritates me big time, you take our modern morals and apply them to people that were born 100 years ago and judge them accordingly. I'm sorry but that's just downright ignorant.

This.
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

What factors affect your mental health the most right now? (select all that apply)

Lack of purpose or routine (281)
15.28%
Uncertainty around my education (288)
15.66%
Uncertainty around my future career prospects (183)
9.95%
Isolating with family (130)
7.07%
Lack of support system (eg. Teachers, counsellors) (84)
4.57%
Lack of exercise/ability to be outside (153)
8.32%
Loneliness (182)
9.9%
Financial worries (75)
4.08%
Concern about myself or my loved ones getting ill (170)
9.24%
Exposure to negative news/social media (132)
7.18%
Lack of real life entertainment (eg. cinema, gigs, restaurants) (161)
8.75%

Watched Threads

View All