This got my marble rolling. At what point does an individual's great deeds in life out shine the bad that they've done, allowing us to think of them as "complicated" versus "immoral" or "bad"?
To tell you the truth, I know very little about the man James Madison. But I do know he is considered to be apart of a group of our most honored American heroes. Other members of this group include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, just to name a few. Washington and Jefferson were both slave owners. Franklin was an avid narcotics user and to put it lightly, one kinky son of a bitch. Now, we can all agree that slavery was one of the most shameful acts in American history. But it is very difficult to judge the moral fortitude of our nations first leaders and their owning of slaves. Their world and standards were different than ours. As for Ben Franklin? Well, his fetishes are a matter of conjecture and it depends on your own personal beliefs.
But lets say we are talking in the strictest sense of right and wrong. Lets say were talking about life and death. Would it be as easy to dodge the question?
During the French and Indian war, English allied natives under the command of the then Colonel George Washington, slaughtered, scalped and decapitated 10 French Canadian soldiers attempting to surrender their arms.
Andrew Jackson, considered one of our greatest presidents, refused to enforce a supreme court decision granting the sovereign Cherokee nation their ancestral lands. Jackson wanted the real estate for Georgia. His stance on this matter lead to the eviction of the Cherokee people and the infamous Trail of Tears. Claiming 4000 Native American lives. Yet the state of Tennessee speaks of him with an almost God-like reverence. And believe me, I know. As the head of security so eloquently stated as I was being arrested in Nashville for sneaking onto Jackson's estate to watch the fire flies at dusk, "You don't FUCK with The Hermitage!".
Here is a quote for you: "Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit." - Abraham Lincoln, January 12, 1848. Yet when the southern states constitutionally seceded from the union, "Honest Abe" launched a war of invasion killing over 600,000 Americans.
Teddy Roosevelt started a civil war in South America, costing the Columbian and Panamanian people an untold number of deaths and casualties. Doing so just to control the land where the Panama canal would later be built.
The other Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, suppressed reports of over 22,000 Soviet murdered Poles so as not to disrupt the negotiations to chop up post war Europe. He then proceeded to allow Joseph Stalin to take control of Poland. Subsequently, old Joe Joe went on to order more murders than any other man in recorded history. More than even Adolf Hitler.
In 1963 John F. Kennedy backed a military coup in Iraq led by Abdul Salam Arif. After it's success, the CIA (under Kennedy's instructions) sent a list of suspected communists to the newest middle eastern government on the block, leading to the massacre of thousands of suspected and so-called communists. Oh yeah, Arif's political party? The Ba'athist party. We all know what happened from there.
I got two words for Ronald Reagan, Iran Contra. Look it up.