Monday, August 29, 2011

Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous

For me the 1980s were a nightmare. America fell in love with the TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. I found it wretched to think that people "adored" the rich because of their wealth. But the era from 1980 to now has been marked by this deference to the rich and powerful

People need to wake up from their illusions. This story from CNN should help. Here is yet another story of "lifestyles of the rich and famous" where the curtain is peeled back and you can see the corruption and meanness and the evil that lurks behind the glitter:
As we were about to leave, one of the staff told us there was a nanny who worked for Hannibal Gadhafi who might speak to us. He said she'd been burnt by Hannibal's wife, Aline.

I thought he meant perhaps a cigarette stubbed out on her arm. Nothing prepared me for the moment I walked into the room to see Shweyga Mullah.

At first I thought she was wearing a hat and something over her face. Then the awful realization dawned that her entire scalp and face were covered in red wounds and scabs, a mosaic of injuries that rendered her face into a grotesque patchwork.

Even though the burns were inflicted three months ago, she was clearly still in considerable pain. But she told us her story calmly.

She'd been the nanny to Hannibal's little son and daughter.

The 30-year-old came to Libya from her native Ethiopia a year ago. At first things seemed OK, but then six months into her employment she said she was burned by Aline.

Three months later the same thing happened again, this time much more seriously.

In soft tones, she explained how Aline lost her temper when her daughter wouldn't stop crying and Mullah refused to beat the child.

"She took me to a bathroom. She tied my hands behind my back, and tied my feet. She taped my mouth, and she started pouring the boiling water on my head like this," she said, imitating the vessel of scalding hot water being poured over her head.

She peeled back the garment draped carefully over her body. Her chest, torso and legs are all mottled with scars -- some old, some still red, raw and weeping. As she spoke, clear liquid oozed from one nasty open wound on her head.

After one attack, "There were maggots coming out of my head, because she had hidden me, and no one had seen me," Mullah said.

Eventually, a guard found her and took her to a hospital, where she received some treatment.

But when Aline Gadhafi found out about the kind actions of her co-worker, he was threatened with imprisonment, if he dared to help her again.

"When she did all this to me, for three days, she wouldn't let me sleep," Mullah said. "I stood outside in the cold, with no food. She would say to staff, 'If anyone gives her food, I'll do the same to you.' I had no water -- nothing."

Her colleague, a man from Bangladesh who didn't want to give his name, says he was also regularly beaten and slashed with knives. He corroborated Mullah's account and says the family's dogs were treated considerably better than the staff.

Mullah was forced to watch as the dogs ate and she was left to go hungry, he said.

It seems to sum up how the workers at the beachside complex were viewed by the Gadhafi family.
This is definitely beyond the Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley, who was a darling of Robin Leach and his unctuous program Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

The problem with a society where a few are fabulously weathy and many are dirt poor is that the rich become unhinged. They develop delusions of grandeur and think they deserve what they have and turn ugly and mean toward those who are not so "blessed" with the goodies of life. This is a sickness.

Sadly, America has fallen to this illness and is still running a fever. I hoped that with the election of Barack Obama the fever would break, but it hasn't. I know it must and will some day. I wish it were sooner rather than later. But for now, the disease is still running wild in the soul of America.

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