Friday, October 29, 2004

Deliver us from "Evil"

"I'm Alonzo Mosley and I approve of this message"

There is a moment when what little of my remaining respect for George W. Bush evaporated away. In the days after the 9/11 attacks, Americans were angry, distraught and confused. Most of all, we were physically and emotionally drained. And we were still grasping for one piece of information: Why? A good president would have kept a level head and looked into all that led up to it in order to prevent it happening again. But our president, like a guy moving in on a girl on the rebound of a relationship, took advantage of the situation. When we asked "Why", this very simplistic man gave us a very simplistic answer: Because they're evil.

And many Americans actually bought that.

Most of us were too out of it to look into particulars. We WANTED a simple answer. "Evil" was a concept that people could get their heads around. Instead of going against the grain as he is often boasting, Dubya gave Americans what they wanted. Kill them all and let God sort them out. Meanwhile, the rest of us wondered how our modern society got transported to 1690's Salem.

Guess what, folks? The terrorists were not evil. Neither are Klu Klux Klan members or Nazis. You see, even devoid of its religious connotations, the concept of Evil is an absolute. There's no going back: No redemption, no forgiveness, no nothing. There is not a shred of anything that resembles something human. The people who view others in this way (Whether they be Muslim zealots in the Mid East or Christian zealots in the Midwest) are dangerous.

Mrs. Mosley will occasionally see something in the news or a film that depicts racism at its most brutal, and she will turn to ask me with genuine bewilderment how people could act that way. The answer is that these people have been taught to regard certain classes, races or what-have-you as not human. Two teenagers, who had been raised to think that homosexuals were devices of the Devil instead of people, tied Matthew Shepherd to a fence in the middle of nowhere, beat the living crap out of him, and left him for dead. Once you have a view that concrete and clear, you are capable of all sorts of horrific acts without the slightest feelings of remorse.

Though I don't like the term, I feel that it can be used to describe acts that people commit. The Holocaust is evil. Lynchings are evil. And 19 people making a concentrated effort to kill thousands of civilians is definitely EVIL. The actions of the highjackers are unthinkable for most of us (yet not beyond the reach of a non-Muslim mind, lest we forget Oklahoma City), yet they themselves are human beings just like you and me, albeit with very different backgrounds and experiences.

In order to prevail against the terrorists, you need to do much more than just increase airport security and institute color-coded alerts. You need to look at their mindset and understand how they see the world. THAT is how you defeat them. If their claims are just and true, then you needs to hash that out. If their claims are baseless and false, then the knowledge of their motivations is still useful when you fight them. Study your Sun Tsu and Know your enemy.

This election will boil down to two kinds of voter: those that see the world in shades of gray and those that are terrified of such a world. The latter sees the former's viewpoint as weak and indecisive. The latter does not wish to bother themselves with geopolitics and what their government does behind their backs. The later would rather just trust them to do the right thing and continue to believe their government is infallible.

The later sacrifice the safety of their nation and their fellow man just so they don't have to think too much.

They're not evil, either, folks. But they are incredibly stupid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can make a reasonable argument that it is people's actions that are evil, and not people themselves. But in practical application, this is hair-splitting. Regardless of how one interpreted the actions of the 9/11 highjackers, what was necessary was that Americans find those responsible for the attacks, and those planning future attacks, and kill them. Seeing nuance is useful up until the point it paralyzes action. I am, of course, assuming that preserving the U.S. from terrorist nuclear bombs is a presumed 'good' (I think that it is).

Yes, Bush has tremendous support for calling our enemies evil. But he also has this support because he calls the U.S. good. This is important, because too often, critics of the U.S. bash it as the epitome as evil, while otherwise denying the existence of evil (the esteemed host of this blog is not assumed to be one of them). Bush stood up and proclaimed that America had done more good for the world than any other nation on earth, before or since. Right-learning Americans knew this to be true, but had not heard it expressed so strongly since the end of the Reagan Administration.

Agent Mosley, you need not fear a win by such fanatics. Historically, defining people and even nations as good and evil is normal. It is the Marcusian denial of the concept which is new and revolutionary. Civilization will continue march forward, even when occasionally led by madmen who have a moral compass (regardless of the direction that it points).
-David P.