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The Deadly Sin of Disloyalty

One thing struck me as I read the numerous and rabid posts attacking Scott McClellan yesterday. I’ll offer a random sample of what that was.

He’s a very unattractive fellow both in physical appearance and for his lack of class in his disloyalty. Рa Townhall commenter

Scott McClellan joins Dick Morris as a disloyal, self-serving former staffer. Who ever likes a “snitch” as Drudge says? He better enjoy his moment in the sun. – John Hawkins, Right Wing News

Others couldn’t decide whether to give McClellan a verbal spanking for his disloyalty or applaud him for expressing complaints that they too had harbored. – LA Times

But McClellan’s explosive new book… prompted a counterattack yesterday from some of his oldest political colleagues, who accused him of disloyalty and questioned his credibility. – Washington Post

Scott McClellan has revealed himself to be a cynical, disloyal, petty and bitter man. – John Matthews, blogger

Conservatives view the former member of the President’s tight Texas inner circle as a disgruntled, disloyal opportunist who is savaging his ex-boss to make a buck. – Texas on the Potomac

A Google search for “Scott McClellan” and “disloyal” turns up 4,700 references. But what I find fascinating is that in almost none of the those does the word “wrong” appear. In almost none of the posts, articles, or comments have I seen the word “dishonest”. The closest the talking points have so far come is to suggest that he wasn’t “in the loop”. He wasn’t in some specific set of meetings so he was not privy to the whole story. Yet nobody can point to what part of the story he got wrong as a result of missing a meeting?

Instead, the attacks are personal, and vicious. Scott was disloyal. Period. End of Story.

When, exactly, did being disloyal to an employer become a greater sin than being dishonest? When did loyalty become a greater virtue than integrity? At what point did we begin to celebrate fealty to employers as if we were serfs pledging our unending service to a master for the pittance he chooses to throw to us? Why is loyalty now demanded rather than earned?

I view loyalty in exactly the same way I view respect. It is something I give you as a reward, not something you demand as a payment. That view, however, seems to be lost in our culture. Loyalty now is expected. It is the invoice you receive when you get a job.

I’m not aware of the exchange rate for various salaries and what you are expected to hide at that price, but that kind of thinking leads to nothing good. As a commenter on one post had said, “It’s no surprise that whistle blowers are rare” and we learn of things like Enron and Vioxx only after they explode into our living room having cost people billions of dollars or their lives.

We have allowed people’s misdeeds to hide behind the NDA and the threat of employment difficulty. We label people disloyal for showing a greater loyalty to the truth and the public good than to their salary.

I may be nothing more than an idealist, but I believe in more than a payday. I hope I’m not alone in that.

Written by Michael Turk