Those disfigured public figures
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." Oscar Wilde reminded us of this universal truth with these witty words, which are timeless and wholesome at the same time. The message is clear, obnoxious persons cannot bring happiness to a congregation of decent people. Such characters pollute the environment around them with their eccentric body movements and repulsive and lewd language. The air around them turns acidic, breathing which decent people choke with fatal consequences. The beleaguered audience waits for such pests to leave the room and be gone. Once they are gone, the collective sigh of relief actually says, "good riddance to bad rubbish". Bye bye. Sayonara.
Mark Twain has the right words to define such a person: "Few things are more irritating than when someone who is wrong is also very effective in making his point." We have seen many such "someone" in this country in our lifetime.
Some people, as described above, do not know when to grow up and act their age. Given a podium they would go on and on to irk the audience with their juvenile idiosyncrasies. One will find such toxic people everywhere, in every profession, but to find one in a teacher or a physician is like going overboard. Imagine a physician with a putrid anatomy, and a foul tongue, attending your sick child! You would want to leave his chamber at the first opportunity.
Well, when such noxious people join politics and suddenly finds great power in their hands, they may turn devilishly disoriented. Such men may become a threat to the mental health of the entire nation. When they keep galloping wildly like an unbridled horse, the party top brasses will have to remain cautious lest they cause irreparable damage to the country's body politic.
History is replete with stories of hyper idiotic people damaging their nation as well as their own selves by misusing power bestowed on them by the voters. These public figures, who are supposed to serve the people of the republic, take power too seriously and start to treat the people like their subjects, just like Hirak Raja. They suppress and repress the people for as long as they can, without ever thinking of the consequences. At the end, the statue of Hirak Raja finally falls to the ground and is dismantled into many pieces. Similarly, such pathetic public figures are finally left disfigured by their own acts of shenanigans while in power. Tomfoolery does not take these politicians far in life. At the end, they find themselves drifting from one ghat to another, as no one offers them shelter.
Infidelity while in political office also brings shame to men who give less importance to reputation. Here are the stories of some popular US senators and presidents. President Franklin D Roosevelt was known for his multiple extra-marital affairs beginning in 1914, and continuing until he died in 1945. President John F Kennedy's involvement with Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe, Judith Campbell Exner and with an intern named Mimi Alford filled the gossip columns during his tenure. President Lyndon B Johnson had extramarital affairs with multiple women for many years and he made no attempts to hide them from the press.
William O Douglas, US Supreme Court Justice, was almost impeached for his allegedly uncontrollable libido. Even when he was living with his third wife it was reported that he tried to molest a flight attendant in his judicial chambers.
Gary Hart, a US politician, lost the moral ground to run for the presidency in 1988 when news of his extra marital affairs became public. We also know about the affairs of President Bill Clinton.
And President Donald Trump's unabashed transgressions, especially with women, have become scandalously legendary in US history. This reckless man's ignominious departure from the White House on the last day saddened his family members and staunch supporters only. Others let go a colossal sigh of relief.
President Richard Nixon lost his presidency through impeachment for a different reason. He failed to stop his overenthusiastic assistants from stealing election related documents from the office of the Democrats. He had to pay for this fatal mistake.
One British scandal that used to be covered by the Dhaka based newspapers in the '60s was known as the "Profumo affair", many readers of this daily might recall the incident. It was a major scandal of the 20th century in British politics. John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan's Conservative government, had an extramarital affair with 19-year-old model Christine Keeler. Profumo denied the affair in a statement to the House of Commons, but weeks later a police investigation established the fact that Profumo had lied. The scandal severely damaged the credibility of Macmillan's government, and Macmillan resigned as prime minister in October 1963, citing ill health. The scandal also contributed to the Conservative government's defeat by the Labour Party in the 1964 general election.
Wait! That's not the end of Christine Keeler! The name of the Pakistani dictator General Ayub Khan had gotten entangled with her! Here is a pick from a fashion magazine: "When the famous supermodel of yesteryears, Christine Keeler died recently (2017), some famous British tabloids printed the torrid days of pool parties that showed Field Marshal Ayub Khan in a very different light! Christine Keeler was involved in a scandal in the early 60s that led to the suicide of a Dr Ward. When Ayub Khan was in London, the tabloids reported then, he would visit as a guest at the imposing estate of Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. What was his purpose there? Well, the man loved to swim in the pool at Buckinghamshire. That is not odd, you would say. Well, it was here, the tabloids point out, that the handsome president met the frolicsome Christine Keeler! Of course, the general was in a prominent company. He had been joined in by the British politician, John Profumo. It was conjectured that Ayub also swam with a girl, Mandy Rice-Davies, much younger to him. Well, you cannot grudge him that. Age is no barrier."
Hyper-politicians also wage wars. Perhaps the iconic example of blatant misuse of power leading to colossal destruction and deaths is the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. He, along with Mussolini, whipped up a war of massive scale that ultimately destroyed the lives of over 75 million people.
Even before them, many tyrannical public figures have fallen on their own sword. The lives of many mighty Roman emperors have been cut short by the swords of their own men. Caligula or Nero was not the best example of popular leaders.
So, what can you say about those toxic people who keep polluting the environment wherever they go?
Shahnoor Wahid is a freelance journalist.