(Excerpt from An American Story)
Here are stories about a couple of Americans.There’s a good chance you won’t like what I have to say about them, but try to keep an open mind.I’m going to be talking about two rats.Do you know what I mean by rats?I mean, men who came out and told the truth, men who came out and informed the authorities of bad or illegal actions.I think there’s a lot to learn from the way these sorts of men are treated in our society.It says a great deal about how we as a nation view the truth, and about our very curious relationship with it.
The first American I’d like to talk about is a man named James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger Jr.Maybe you already know a few things about him?He was an organized crime boss who led the Winter Hill gang in the Winter Hill neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts.Federal prosecutors indicted him for nineteen murders, but this was just the tip of the iceberg.This awful man lived a long and illustrious life of crime.Seriously, this guy was hard core.I’m not sure of the exact year, but Bulger eventually became an informant for the FBI.He started telling authorities the truth about what he knew about other criminals.He wasn’t just being a nice guy.He was truthful for selfish reasons, but he was still a rat.Long story short, this crime boss turned rat couldn’t get along with the FBI, nor with his own criminal buddies, so he wound up running away and hiding in California.He successfully lived in Santa Monica in a secret apartment with his girlfriend.He was able to live his senior days unmolested for sixteen years until he was finally tracked down.
Bulger was arrested, tried, and tossed in prison at the age of eighty-nine.He was finally moved into the United States Penitentiary in Hazelton, West Virginia on October 29, 2018.At 8:20 AM the next day, Bulger was found murdered in his prison cell.He was in a wheelchair and had been beaten to death by a group of inmates armed with a sock-wrapped padlock.His eyes had been nearly gouged out, and his tongue had been badly mutilated.Employees at this prison had warned Congress earlier that the prison was dangerous and understaffed.Maybe that’s why Bulger was sent there.A notorious hitman named Fotios “Freddy” Geas was the primary suspect in the murder, and he has never disputed his role in it.
Geas was quoted as saying that he “hated rats.”He stuffed a lock in a sock, and it was so much for the rat, Bulger.The government got its death sentence for Bulger after all.Glad to hear that Bulger did not die of natural causes, the son of one of Bulger’s murder victims was quoted as saying to reporters, “I can only hope his death was slow and painful.”Needless to say, not many tears were shed for Bulger.
In 1986, another rat surfaced in the news media, and this rat’s name was Oliver Laurence North.Ollie was also a killer, but in a much different way.He was a military man who cut his teeth killing Vietnamese.How many Vietnamese did he kill?I have no way of knowing.But he took part in a war that killed over a million.Was it a righteous war?I’ll let you decide.Dwight Eisenhower admitted early on in the conflict that eighty percent of the Vietnamese people wanted communism.Well, that wouldn’t do.The United States decided that people of Vietnam had no right to choose their own form of government if it didn’t coincide with our agenda.So, we slaughtered a million of their citizens as they tried to defend their God given right to self-govern.We dropped more bombs on them than we dropped in all of World War II.We showered them with fire and Napalm.We turned their little country into a nightmarish hellhole of death and destruction.
Now, this is just my opinion, but what we did in Vietnam was far worse than anything Mr. Bulger did.Yes, Bulger was a crook and a murderer, but what he did during his lifetime didn’t even hold a candle to the Vietnam War.He was, as they like to say, small potatoes.
Anyway, Ollie had a chest full of medals to prove his valor and loyalty to the United States.So, why was Ollie a rat?He was rat, wasn’t he?In exchange for immunity, he told Congress all about the Iran Contra deal.It’s interesting to note that he wouldn’t tell them truth without the immunity, being he was such an “honorable” man.But like Bulger, he too looked out for himself and acted in his own best interest.And who could blame him for that?
If you don’t recall what happened, I’ll describe the story in a nutshell.The United States sold some weapons to Iran to get a group of hostages freed.Then in direct violation of the law, profits from the arms sale were to be sent to the Contras in Nicaragua.That was the long and short of it.It opened a hornet’s nest as to who told who to do what, and who knew about the plan, and how such a cockamamie and illegal scheme could be carried out under Ronald Reagan’s watch.
All said and done, Ollie survived the fiasco.Rather than be put in prison for breaking the law, he flourished.No lock in a sock for Ollie.No eyes gouged out, or tongue sliced up.Join the in with the effort to kill a million Vietnamese, and you’re suddenly not a gangster.You’re a red, white, and blue hero in the eyes of America.
You should know that Ollie moved on with his life.Never mind the one million people killed in Vietnam.It was now just water under the bridge.There would be no more orders rolling down to Ollie.He finally left the military, and wrote several best-selling books, hosted his own radio show, and appeared on TV.He even did a stint as the president of the NRA.All said and done, he’s lived a pretty darn good life – for a rat.And compared to the rat, Whitey Bulger, he came out smelling like a rose.
For more short pieces by Mark, click here
For books click here