Traitor hater, part 2Written by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: The original version of this column was published Aug. 10, 2008. It is more relevant now than then.
As we are all too often reminded, it’s not a perfect world. Sometimes the bad guys get away, the good guys make bad choices and innocent people catch the shrapnel.
The instability is constant because unpredictability is an intrinsic human trait. A more cynical view would replace “unpredictability” with “unreliability.”
Karma usually has the last word, and while there’s no empirical evidence of cosmic justice in the afterlife, it’s human nature to believe the big wheel of consequence transports good people to their destination while crushing bad people along the way. My guess is, that’s about 80 percent accurate.
What happens to those who betray confidence and intentionally abandon friends and family? What happens to those who steal and lie and intimidate people? Perhaps this dirty dozen of historical and fictional examples will offer some solace to the aggrieved.
1. Judas Iscariot: For 30 pieces of silver, Judas betrayed Jesus Christ and set the Crucifixion in motion. Depending on the source material, Judas hanged himself, was stoned to death or had his bowels spilled in a field, none of which is a happy ending.
2. Benedict Arnold: Feeling unappreciated and slighted, the George Washington-appointed commandant of Philadelphia took more than 10,000 British pounds, a pension and some land in Canada for working with John Andre to give West Point secrets to the British. Upon capture, Andre was executed. Arnold escaped and eventually fled to London, where he died of gout, dropsy and delirium.
3. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in “Hamlet”: Shakespeare makes the ultimate case for killing the messengers for the message: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are longtime friends with Hamlet, but serve as spies for the evil and murderous King Claudius. They are sent on a mission to see Hamlet killed, but the downbeat prince turns the tables and the two betrayers are sent to their deaths.
4. Scar: More regicidal hijinks. In “The Lion King,” jealous Scar arranges the death of his brother, King Mufasa, in a wildebeest stampede. Scar lives the high life for a while, but eventually his greed and disregard for friends and family lead to his being torn apart by the very hyenas he once partnered with. Are you noticing a trend here?
5. Brutus: Betrayed Julius Caesar, leading the 44 B.C. plot to assassinate the Roman leader. Brutus committed suicide after a military defeat, less than two years after his traitorous act.
6. John Walker Lindh: An American who pleaded guilty to being a member of the Taliban, Lindh received a far-too-easy 20-year prison sentence. He got off light. Charges against him included conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens and conspiracy to provide material support and resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations. In January 2003, Lindh was locked away at the United States Penitentiary, a high-security prison in Victorville, Calif., northeast of Los Angeles.
7. Fredo Corleone: Fredo, the weakest of Don Corleone’s sons, betrayed the family off-screen in “The Godfather” and paid for it with his life in “The Godfather II.” As played by John Cazale, Fredo was a whiny loser who let delusions of grandeur jeopardize his family and their business. Fredo is shot and dumped in a lake when his brother Michael exacts the inevitable revenge.
8. Iago: Shakespeare’s greatest villain is one of the ultimate traitors. Iago pretends to be General Othello’s trusted adviser, but systematically destroys Othello’s life though scheming and lying. Wez do not see Iago’s execution, but it is implied. There was certainly no sequel or spinoff featuring the dastardly traitor.
9. Aldrich Ames: Ames gave the Russians the identities of American spies and other intelligence information. He reportedly jeopardized more than 100 American intelligence efforts. His traitorous actions earned him a reported $4.5 million, blood money for the 10 Americans who were executed as a result of his betrayal. The CIA believes he eventually gave away every U.S. agent who was working against the USSR. He is serving life in prison.
10. Salieri: Salieri, in stage and film incarnations, is jealous of Mozart’s talent. He pretends to befriend Amadeus but all the while plots to thwart his career. Eventually, Salieri plots to trick Mozart into writing his own requiem. The stress contributes to Mozart’s pauper death. Salieri lives long enough to see his own work forgotten and Mozart’s increasingly celebrated.
11. Peter Pettigrew: The entire “Harry Potter” saga spins the way it does because Harry’s parents trusted Pettigrew, who betrayed them to ultimate baddie Lord Voldemort. For his reward, Pettigrew spends years as the rat Scabbers, earns the cheery nickname Wormtail, loses a hand and is eventually strangled by the magical prosthetic hand that replaces his filthy, weak natural one.
12. Your name here.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at mmiller@
Tags: Aldrich Ames, Amadeus, Benedict Arnold, Brutus, CIA, Don Corleone, Fredo Corleone, George Washington, Guildenstern, Hamlet, Harry Potter, Iago, Jesus Christ, John Cazale, John Walker Lindh, Judas Iscariot, Julius Caesar, Lighting The Fuse, Lion King, Lord Voldemort, Michael Corleone, Michael S. Miller, Mozart, Othello, Peter Pettigrew, Rosencrantz, Salieri, Scar, Shakespeare, The Godfather, The Godfather II