My sophomore year of college, I was taking a current events quiz in Journalism. This particular teacher was fond of "picture questions," and so this quiz showed four grainy, black and white headshots and asked us to circle the Secretary of Something Fairly Common But I Forget Exactly What. I had no idea, so I just chose the smiling man with the jaunty hat. He looked nice enough.
Well, turns out the nice man I circled was none other than Saddam Hussein. They probably should not have let me stay in Journalism school after that.
That was bad, but in perusing a magazine article about the worst dictators recently, I was struck by how many of them looked like they could have been a friendly uncle or 12th-grade history teacher. Some of them, like Bashar Al-Assad (right), even look kind of like Steve Carrell. So before you judge me, I challenge you to take the following quiz, "Dictator or Regular Guy," and see how you do.
1. Dictator, or regular guy?
2. Dictator, or regular guy?
Dictator. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been the President of Equatorial Guinea since he assumed the office in 1979.
3. Dictator, or regular guy?
5. Dictator, or regular guy?
Regular guy. This man is a dentist in Connecticut.
6. Dictator, or regular guy?
Dictator. Before he died last year, Saparmurat Niyazov was a frequent mention on lists of the world's worst dictators, like this one, which described him as having a bit of The Crazy: "Among the most bizarre recent examples of his government by whim are his banning of car radios, lip-synching, and the playing of recorded music on TV and at weddings. In 2005, Niyazov also closed all national parks and shut down rural libraries. He has also renamed the month of January after himself and April after his mother."
7. Dictator, or regular guy?
Regular guy. A professor, actually.
So, to summarize what we've learned today:
- Dictators--they're just like us!
- Sometimes dictators smile. Sometimes non-dictators don't.
- Caitlar is crazy. Seriously--dictators as a theme? That is as un-shiny, un-happy as it gets!