The Pagan Charles Grassley: From Victory at Sea to Defeat in Manhattan

He may not think of himself in this way, but…

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley suggested that AIG executives should take a Japanese approach toward accepting responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves.

The Republican lawmaker’s harsh comments came during an interview with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT on Monday. They echo remarks he has made in the past about corporate executives and public apologies, but went further in suggesting suicide.

“I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed,” Grassley said. “But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

“And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology.”

…that’s what he’s advocating.  Although such things are usually associated with the Japanese these days, the old Romans did the same thing, and considered it a virtue.  I touched on that in a recent quote from St. Augustine’s City of God; it puts his whole investigation of ministries in a new light too.

My father’s favourite documentary was Victory at Sea, understandable since he spent his World War II service in the Pacific for the United States Coast Guard.  The Japanese were fanatical defenders, because of the intense shame of defeat and surrender.  Towards the end, of course, they developed the kamikaze suicide planes and pilots, a tactic replicated–in lower Manhattan, no less–by another group of people obsessed with their shame.

Manhattan has had enough of fanatical shame-honour.  If there’s shame to be felt, Grassley should be the one doing it.

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