More than a whiff of corruption

“Power is not a means; it is an end,” wrote George Orwell in his novel 1984. And, as we all know, there is one rule for the rich and powerful, and another for the rest of us.

Here are two provocative glimpses of politicians in two different parts of the world.

“Imagine this. A pogrom takes place in a foreign country targeting a minority group, say Christians, with hundreds brutally killed by rampaging mobs, many mutilated and raped, and foetuses removed from pregnant women. Thousands flee destroyed homes. The provincial leader on whose watch these events take place is a politician with open links to extremist Islamist organisations. Three holidaying British citizens are among the massacred. Allegations emerge that this politician’s language helped foment the massacres. With one of his cabinet jailed for her role in the pogroms he becomes the frontrunner to lead this increasingly powerful country. Would you worry?

Yes, is the likely answer, and so you should. In reality, the country is India, the extremists are Hindus, the 2002 Gujarat pogroms targeted Muslims, and the leader in question is Narendra Modi. As the candidate of the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in current elections he does not dispute his or its links to the extremist Hindu network known as the Sangh Parivar.”

From “Narendra Modi: Britain can’t simply shrug off this Hindu extremist” by Priyamvada Gopal (The Guardian, 14 April 2014).

Narendra Modi was elected Prime Minister of India in May 2014 and is currently being feted by the USA, China, and Australia as the man of the moment. Yet dark shadows surround him.

In the USA itself, civil rights activist Al Sharpton is being courted as a prop for the failing Democrat cause or – just possibly – as a stalking horse for the 2016 presidential race. And yet people in high places are ignoring – or glossing over – serious questions:

“Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses. And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.

With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.

Mr. Sharpton and the National Action Network have repeatedly failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords. He has leaned on the generosity of friends and sometimes even the organization, intermingling its finances with his own to cover his daughters’ private school tuition.”

From “Questions About Sharpton’s Finances Accompany His Rise in Influence” by Russ Buettner (The New York Times, 18 November 2014).

Political apathy swiftly follows sustained government corruption, a lack of accountability, and a failure to raise the hue and cry. Add impunity and it becomes a recipe for disaster. Shakespeare got it right in Julius Caesar, a play about dynastic ambition thwarted by murderous envy:

“Th’abuse of greatness is when it disjoins
Remorse from power.”Corruption


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