Paul Harvey, the late, great radio social commentator and columnist is having a bit of resurgence again on Facebook. The broadcaster, who passed away at the age of 90 in 2009, became an Internet phenom thanks to a 2013 Super Bowl ad called “God Made A Farmer” for Dodge trucks. The 2014 midterms are giving his work another round of Internet popularity.
During his 60-year career, Harvey commented on all manner of topics, many of them several times. One theme he revisited regularly was a column he first wrote in 1964 called “If I Were The Devil.” And people, thanks to social media, are rediscovering it.
Through its various incarnations, the “If I Were The Devil” commentary changed slightly, but the themes remained the same. They ring as true today as they did back when they were first written.
Some choice lines from the various versions are:
If I Were the Devil
If I were the Prince of Darkness I would want to engulf the whole earth in darkness.
I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree.
So I should set about however necessary, to take over the United States.
In the ears of the young married I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be “extreme” in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct.
And the old I would teach to pray — to say after me — “Our father, which are in Washington.”
I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing, less work. Idle hands usually work for me.
I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could, I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction, I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions; let those run wild.
If I were the devil, I’d soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves and nations at war with themselves until each, in its turn, was consumed.
And with promises of higher ratings, I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.
In his own churches, I would substitute psychology for religion and deify science. I’d lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money.
If I were the devil, I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious,
I’d convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun and that what you see on television is the way to be.
And thus, I could undress you in public and lure you into bed with diseases for which there are no cures.
In other words, if I were the devil, I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.
These quotes come both from a 1964 and a 1996 version of the column, both by Harvey. Snopes has complete versions of both.
Harvey himself recorded various versions for his radio commentaries throughout the years. The version below is from 1996 (there are others), but most of it could’ve been recorded today.