Philosophers and writers have long debated the roles people have played in influencing the progress of civilization. While Thomas Carlyle, for example, felt that great figures are key to guiding us forward, Leo Tolstoy, on the other hand, was of the belief that no individual can single-handedly steer the course of humanity, no matter what position they held.
Regardless of what the case might be, there are two kinds of people: those who are forgotten and those who live on in our collective memory. In an attempt to figure out if some of the latter are getting undeserved praise, Reddit user TGYHJDFGH made a post on the platform, asking everyone: “What beloved person in history should be hated?” and it was immediately flooded with answers.
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But before you scroll down to check them out, I want to make things a little bit more interesting and/or complicated for you. Tell me, can we judge someone’s morals after hundreds of years, when the entire cultural landscape has changed course? And where do we draw the line between what we can and cannot accept about someone’s personal life if their work has transcended time and allowed countless people to find meaning?
I know, these are pretty tough questions. But humans are walking contradictions and it would be irresponsible to instantly dismiss the legacy of, say, the Founding Fathers or Mother Teresa.
Mother Theresa. My father was a taxi driver in Australia and one of his customers was a man who’d been raised in Mother Theresa’s orphanage. He said she beat him terribly.
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Pablo Picasso, he was misogynistic and sexually assaulted women
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Kinda coming much more into light now but The Founding Fathers, all of them owned slaves and by modern day standards they would be horrible people. But something I think lots of people don’t remember is even if these things are utterly reprehensible, everyone was doing it and they were all children of their time.
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Charlie Chaplin definitely. Dude groped/assaulted girls and married a woman 40 years younger than him
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He was the type of president who kills his opposition instead of negotiating. He did a lot of illegal executions.
He was going to be executed in Guadalajara, however one of his ministers convinced the soldiers not to kill him with a famous phrase “alto, los valientes no asesinan”, the soldiers forgave his life and risked theirs as the disobey an order. Well, as soon as Juarez returned to Mexico city, he immediately ordered to kill all of those soldiers with no mercy (source: my sister worked with the Sargent’s descendant)
After Juárez’s government, there’s a period Known as the porfiriato, where Porfirio Díaz was Mexico’s president for 30 years. It was possible just because there was no opposition alive
Juarez suddenly died in 1872 from a heart attack. It’s believed that a woman, to avenge his husband, worked on his home as a maid, and when she had the opportunity, she put an infusion of “veintiunilla'” a herb known by the natives for being poisonous and cause a heart attack 21 days (veintiún dias) after it was drank
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Bill Cosby. America’s dad. Up until those allegations started
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Elvis Presley. He groomed a then 14 year old and slept with her while he toured.
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Coco Chanel was a goddamn Nazi spy. Yes, she was an incredible designer, and she’s probably one of the most influential humans of the 20th century, based on the number of people who have worn clothing directly inspired by her over the past 100 years. She really did change the way women dress in a truly radical way, and I respect that – knitwear, feminized menswear, ditching the corset, transforming black into an everyday color, the essential skirt suit, costume jewelry, synthetic fragrances in perfume, the list goes on.
But she was a goddamn Nazi spy. Coco was a wretched anti-Semite, like so many other members of the European elite during the 30s. She dated a number of staggeringly wealthy British aristocrats and they’d all sit around talking about the Protocols of Zion and s**t, trying to figure out whether any members of the royal family were secretly Jews, etc. When war broke out, the two Jewish brothers who ran her perfume empire (aka Chanel No 5, the best selling perfume in the world then and now) had to flee to the US for safety. How did Coco respond? By writing to the Nazis to ask them to transfer ownership over to her, a good Aryan, so she could make more money. But that’s not the half of it.
She fell in love with a dashing German spy named “Spitz” who’d been seducing bluebloods all over France and England for years leading up the war. Coco was a useful woman – she was simply one of the richest women in the world, and she knew everyone in the British aristocracy, including her old hunting buddy and dear friend, Winston Churchill himself. She and Spitz socialized with all the biggest Nazi names in town, especially Otto Abetz, the Nazi ambassador to France, who invited them to every party in town. Spitz convinced her to join the Abwehr (aka the German secret service) and make trips to Spain. Operating under the code name “Westminster”, she attempted to broker a “separate peace” between Germany and England. (In the meantime, she may or may not have reported at least one woman at the Hotel Ritz whom she suspected of being Jewish to the SS.) She had a grand old time going on her adventures, and wrote about the excitement of working for the Abwehr in her private notes.
Chanel was arrested only a few days after the liberation of Paris – absolutely everyone in town knew what she’d been doing and who she’d been doing it with – but for rEaSoNs UnKnOwN she was released without charges. It’s widely believed that Winston Churchill personally intervened. It might be because the two of them had been close friends for decades. It might be because she was going to embarrass the s**t out of Britain by outing all the anti-Semites and pro-Nazis in the British aristocracy – including the recently abdicated Edward VIII who used his f***ng honeymoon as an excuse to tour Nazi Germany and shake Hitler’s hand. She spent the rest of her life being a nasty, bitter morphine addict living in the Hotel Ritz. The House of Chanel has very, very little to say about the matter, and every few years a few more bits of damning evidence are declassified from the vaults.
If you want to learn more, I did a whole episode about her Nazi days in my French history podcast: “The Collaborator”
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Charles Dickens had his wife, the mother of his children, committed to an insane asylum so he could run off with a teenage actress.
Edit- I have been informed that this wasn’t successful, he tried to have the mother of his ten children committed but it didn’t work. Which is still quite bad
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Alfred Hitchcock, the guy probably was one of the best filmmakers ever, yes. but it’s worth mentioning how much he abused his actors, including sexually harassing Tippi Hedren
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Dr Suess cheated on his partially disabled wife and she eventually committed suicide because of how distraught she was.
“I am too old and enmeshed in everything you do and are, that I cannot conceive of life without you,”
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Tried to make England a republic, ended up being a king in all but name. Butchered the Irish, banned Christmas and is partially responsible for the puritans (who fled to America after the monarchy was restarted)
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Travis Scott, still ain’t over what insane s**t he did
Gandhi. After learning all the colorist and racist s**t he would say to those who had darker complexion or those of African descent in my 8th grade year i haven’t seen him the same.
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Einstein wasn’t a great guy. Brilliant, sure, but kinda douchy in his personal life.
He refused to marry his long time lover for years, even after she got pregnant. The child was assumed to be given up for adoption, but no record has ever been found.
He and his wife, Mileva Marić, worked together on their research. People saw them do it. They made jokes about it at parties. He proudly told people that she did all his calculations. They only put his name on their work and he went on to claim all the credit – ignoring any work she had done. Part of their agreement was that she would get the Nobel prize money but he tried to prevent that.
She raised two children – one schizophrenic – took care of the house and tutored to bring in extra money because he couldn’t get a job for a long time. He started getting more notoriety and then began an affair with his first cousin.
He moved to a different country to be with his new hillbilly mistress. He divorced his wife and quickly married the new, younger model. He had rules she had to abide by, such as leaving the room immediately when told and not expecting or asking for any sort of affection except when necessary for appearances sake.
Elsa, his second wife, was dying and he worked nonstop because he didn’t know what to do (I guess). She was basically abandoned her last few months.
He cheated on both his wives, numerous times. Ignored his children. Oh – and he was pretty into his second wife’s daughter and thought about marrying her instead.
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Sure he was instrumental in ending the clone wars, stopping a Jedi coup, and united the galaxy. But towards the end, he created a giant moon sized base that blew up a populated planet. He also let that weird Vader guy go around choking whoever he wanted, and it is rumored the Emperor was part of a weird ancient cult.
I grew up LDS and left with my family when I was in junior high. After some reading and learning from historical documents without church bias, I realized how drastically different he was when he wasn’t viewed in the eyes of the church.
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Guy was majorly racist, segregated the military, kicked black people out of the government, he screened a KKK movie in the White House and was a strong defender of the KKK. Even for his time he was considered racist
Helen Keller did some fantastic things in her personal life and for society, so that’s great. She was also a staunch supporter of eugenics, which is uterly horrible. And while on the topic, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telophone and fought for the inclusion of deaf people… by trying to outlaw sign language and forbidding deaf people from marrying to prevent the birth of more deaf people, whom he saw as “the defective race”
He’s always presented as the “common man’s president” but he treated the Native American’s terribly . He also had a huge rowdy party and trashed the White House
Captain Crunch, that bastard waged war on the roof of the mouths of every child he crossed paths with. You shouldn’t market gravel as cereal, but he sure did. (Also, might want to mark as Serious if you want to avoid idiots like me.)
Charles Lindberg. He was Nazi sympathiser, a member of the eugenic movement and he fathered at least 7 children (with 3 women) while married.
PT Barnum. I mean, the movie was entertaining and great to watch, but it was definitely the life of PT Barnum the way he might have told the story. The man had a slave woman as part of his freak show. He scammed people and was just generally a nasty human being.
Steve Jobs. The way he treated his family is horrible.
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Most people know but due to the romanticization of The Greatest Showman, people should know that he was a maniac that did an ungodly experiments on living beings, locked people in cages, abused them, and mocked them. All whilst earning pocket from them.
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Not quite beloved, but Joseph P. Kennedy Sr..
He decided that Rosemary (his daughter) who was 23 at the time should have a lobotomy; he did not inform his wife of this decision until after the procedure was completed. And then they sent her away to an institute.
In her early young adult years, Rosemary Kennedy experienced seizures and violent mood swings. In response to these issues, her father arranged a prefrontal lobotomy for her in 1941 when she was 23 years of age; the procedure left her permanently incapacitated and rendered her unable to speak intelligibly.
Sick f**k, who would do this to their own child.
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I’ll have to find some links to stuff but what I heard was he screamed his son’s eardrums out and was generally apathetic about his familial duties and flew off the handle in violent fits often.
BRB gotta Google.
Churchill. He started the Bengal Famine which killed 3 million people. He also was incredibly racist and liked killing through gas.
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Christopher columbus…didnt discover s**t and brought misery wherever he went.
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if Penn and Teller ever taught me anything it’s the answer to this question, and that answer is Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and The Dalai Lama
King Edward the VIII was a nazi sympathizer who possibly colluded with the Germans to retake the throne in the event of an invasion and conquest of Britain.
He wasn’t just a love sick romantic who gave up his kingdom for a woman.
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Margaret Sanger was pro-eugenics and a racist.
In promoting birth control, she advanced a controversial “Negro Project,” wrote in her autobiography about speaking to a Ku Klux Klan group and advocated for a eugenics approach to breeding for “the gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extinction, of defective stocks — those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.”
She is seen as a saint to many.
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Queen Elizabeth I not the current one. -her cousin got married without her permission so she locked her in a tower for a long time. Her other cousin also did this and the Queen had her locked there until she died. -when she took over Munster she abused many native Irish people. -she spent more money than she had. Despite this slot of British ppl I talk too think she is one of the greatest monarchs they have had.
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Gandhi , dude was a pervert. Mostly to kids
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Andy Warhol was a fraud and an abuser.
The book Edie is a great read, but sad.
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William Hurt. I remember seeing tons of praise for him when he passed recently.
Thing is, he beat and raped Marlee Matlin back in the 80s. She discussed it in her memoir. When he was approached about it, his response wasn’t to deny it, but to apologize for any pain he “may have caused” to her.
If you want to praise his acting, fine. But remember what sort of person he was behind the characters you loved on film.
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Thomas Edison. I’ll never forgive him for what he did to Tesla.
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Based on personal experience with Oprah Winfrey at Barnes Municipal Airport on New Years Eve in 1991, I would say it would have to be her. Cosby’s private jet brought her and Steadman into the airport under cover of darkness to go to the Cosby estate up North. I watched from the tower and she shoved a lone child out of the way and slammed the door to the limo. All the child wanted was an autograph. Oprah’s kindness and compassion was an act. If she didn’t get something out of it, she was quite capable of stepping on feelings of a lone child when the cameras were not on her
Watson and Crick, stole the double helix model from Rosalind Franklin after her death and refused to give credit for the idea
Was obsessed with preventing wartime rape victims from getting abortions.
Her order sold babies.
She buddied up to dicators and accepted stolen cash from them.
Collected millions in donations and never spent them on her “houses of the poor” which were vermin infested crapholes where people went to die.
Refused pain medication for the dying and ill because she believed suffering = being close to god.
Had nothing but top of the line medical care for herself.
John Lennon. Treated like s**t during his childhood, whinges about it his whole life, then does the exact same thing to his son Julian.
8000 comments so it might be here Apparently John Wayne needed to be restrained from assaulting a native American actress in the 70s at the academy awards or something. I think her name was Sacheen Little feather. And Clint Eastwood allegedly was mocking her too.
Ronald Reagan – moved somewhere between 50-80 TRILLION from middle class to upper 1%. Ruined America!
Kissenger may be a nobel peace prize winner, but alot of dead people because of him.