They really don’t exist. Some people can be both heroes and villains at various points of their lives. I’ve read arguments that Aung should give back her Nobel Peace Prize but I disagree–she earned it. (Henry Kissinger didn’t earn his, but that’s another story.) And having a rightful Nobel winner commit crimes against humanity is instructive. It is an American culture thing generally but it is stunning nevertheless how often our elites (theoretically the wise ones who went to fancy elite schools and traveled the worled) continually fall into the trap of finding foreign leaders who they either irrationally elevate into pure heroes carrying forward the Western tradition or completely irredeemable monsters. Typically the latter impression follows the former, but if you assume that all of them have at least a little bit of each in them, then you avoid this whiplash. It is a little less exciting to live in the real world than a fantasy world of stone-jawed heroes and scheming villains, but it might mean fighting fewer wars for reasons nobody can explain.

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