Jewish Journal


December 22, 2008

Comparing Madoff to the killer in ‘No Country for Old Men’


Bernard Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme had violent, or at least life-changing, consequences. Richard B. Woodward, writing for the Huffington Post, compares Madoff to Anton Chigurh, the assassin in “No Country for Old Men,” played on screen by the terrifying Javier Bardem:

A symbol of the terrifying randomness that in the author’s view governs the universe, Chigurh in one scene decides if a man will live or die on the flip of a coin. To meet him is to chance a quick and violent end.

It may sound hyperbolic to link Madoff with a serial killer. But in their relative swathes of destruction, Chirugh was just a local hit man. (“Some will rob you with a six-gun/Some with a fountain pen,“go the words to Woody Guthrie’s ballad “Pretty Boy Floyd.”) Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, would probably have no trouble with the analogy. He told the “Wall St. Journal” that hearing about Madoff’s alleged crimes was “like finding out your brother is a murderer.”

Barbara S. Fox, president of the Fox Residential Group, is one who felt the wings of death from Madoff brush her cheek. She begged him to take her money; it didn’t vanish only because, for unknown reasons, he turned her down. (This seems to have essential to his poisonous charm; only a select few had access to his financial acumen.)

Like Chigurh, he had the profound ability to alter the fate of lives by the simplest of means. Those he met and wished to ruin, he could allow to invest with him. On the other side of the coin, those he chose to pardon he turned away. It was a curse of intoxicating power, the Midas touch, except in reverse.

When I spoke with Tobin, he actually likened the Madoff revelations to “finding out that somebody who is very important in the family is a felon.” Murderer definitely sounds worse. By his own admission, he’s certainly ruined plenty of lives.

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