Dear Mister Madoff:
Before it’s too late, I wanted to thank you for all that you’ve done for America. It’s been reported that Thursday you will plead guilty to 11 criminal charges, meaning you will spend the rest of your life in jail. A legacy like yours should not go unmarked as you fade into history.
And so I’m writing you this letter to honor your contributions to American society. I’m not speaking about the thousands of people you’ve defrauded. Nor am I referring to the (less than) $50 billion you made evaporate overnight. And those two people you caused to commit suicide? Disgraceful, of course, but not all that you should be remembered for.
I, unlike the rest of our compatriots, will choose to exalt your gifts, not just your sins. Like the way you single-handedly forced Congress to acknowledge just how crappy the SEC is at doing its job. Like when your downfall helped unearth a dozen other Ponzi schemes, proactively saving millions of dollars. And I, for one, do not think you’re only the basest kind of American—a man driven by greed, power, and an unchecked case of OCD. No, you, sir, are an American patriot. Your selfless sacrifice is overlooked by the hate-first-think-second mass media. You gave the American people somebody to despise when they needed it most. In our economic era, you may not have been the villain we wanted, but you were the one we needed.