From economy's ills, new American villains rise

Recent Outbreaks Posted on

"The better the villain," Alfred Hitchcock said, "the better the movie." And in the epic production that is the United States of America, we have followed that advice since the earliest settlers landed. For every hero the American story factory produces, a vivid new villain comes off the assembly line in short order.


We love bad guys in America — even when they're not really bad. Demonizing helps define the best in us. Here's an incomplete list from the history books: Indians, Quakers, witches, Englishmen, the federal government, Southerners and Northerners, Chinese "Celestials," Tammany Hall Democrats, Germans, Jews, Japanese, North Koreans, communists, socialists, Vietnamese, liberals, conservatives, gays, lesbians and Muslims. The Evil Empire and the Axis of Evil.

Now, a fresh group has been dropped into the cultural dunk tank. Bin Laden? Back-burnered, at least for now. Saddam? Gone and forgotten. Instead, in these jumbled days of economic uncertainty, fairly or unfairly, America's newest Snidely Whiplashes bear faces like those of Bernie Madoff, AIG executives and the private jet-flying heads of the Big Three automakers.

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