The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
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    The Death of Whitey Bulger

    I never thought I would be upset to see Whitey Bulger die. But somehow that happened. Because Bulger's death, like Bulger's life, promoted organized crime.

    I'm seeing a lot of the usual nonsense about the man, filled with praise he never deserved, from people who should know better. I blogged about the Whitey myth, and the way he the press builds him up into a folk hero, back when he was first arrested:

    Bulger is the last Irish-American mob leader who's likely to control even a slice of the underworld in a major American city. He is ethnically similar to many of the journalists and editors covering him, and they obviously love writing about him. He's the last gangster who looks like Jimmy Cagney, so even very good coverage of him gets tinged with sympathy and sentimentality that Bulger has never come close to deserving. It's a nostalgia trip. Reporters call Bulger "colorful," but it's only because he's so very pale.

    But I'm also seeing various tough-guy iterations of "he had it coming." But Whitey Bulger died because the Mafia (the Italian-American Mafia, which still persists in the Northeast) orchestrated a revenge killing inside a high-security federal prison.

    The Mafia being able to murder snitches in a federal prison is a very, very bad thing. Don't celebrate that because you didn't like that particular snitch. I loathed and despised Bulger, but I'm not happy about La Cosa Nostra having an 89-year-old man beaten to death in his cell.

    Bulger was killed because he crossed the Patriarca crime family, the New England mob, and therefore by extension their godless Genovese-Family patrons in New York. And to hell with Whitey, but to hell with those guys even more.

    Those of who've still bought into the whole colorful-gangster bullshit about Whitey are invited to check out my post here. Those of you whooping it up over his brutal death (some of whom are the same people), just remember: Whitey Bulger died to make other criminals safer from punishment. Safer to rob you and safer to kill you. Pardon me if I don't applaud.



    Well, there is a bit of a tradition in admiring rogues and criminals.  Billy the Kid was a lousy shot who used to kill people from behind but we turned him into a super hero gunman.  I'm not sure this is entirely unhealthy.  More an ironic celebration of transgression from a safe distance.

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