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Evil

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After 9/11, it briefly became acceptable across the ideological spectrum to speak of "evil."  Usually, the pseudosophisticates who dominate academia, journalism, and the political left consider it the mark of a rube to speak in terms of good and evil.  Being "advanced" requires moral relativism which requires understanding and compassion for people who commit horrendous crimes.  Murder and rape are "antisocial behavior," not evil acts.

Richard Cohen is a columnist for the WaPo who leans left but has more sense than most of his ilk.  In this column, he dares to use the e-word:
As Hannah Arendt foresaw, we are once again up against the question of evil. An American photojournalist, James Foley, was presented to the camera and decapitated. The instrument was not the ax reserved for royalty or the whooshing blade prompted by that reformer Joseph-Ignace Guillotin but an ordinary-looking knife. Death would be neither swift nor painless. This, somewhere in the bleached desert, was pure evil.

I used to not believe in evil. When Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union "the evil empire," I thought it was a dandy phrase but also a confession of ignorance. The word itself connotes something or someone diabolical -- bad for the sake of bad. The Soviet Union was bad, I conceded, but not for no reason. It was bad because it was insecure, occupying the flat, inviting, Eurasian plain, and because it had a different system of government that it dearly wanted to protect. Reagan had it right, though. The Soviet Union was evil.

Now we are facing a different type of evil. The Islamic State, in whose name Foley was beheaded, murders with abandon. It seems to love death the way the fascists once did. It is Sunni, so it massacres Shiites. It is radical Sunni, so it eliminates apostates. It is Muslim, so it kills Yazidis, a minority with a religion of its own, and takes as plunder their women as concubines. Men are shot in graves of their own making.
That's progress, and I give Cohen credit for saying something that will surely draw flak from his left flank.  "Reagan had it right" is heresy and grounds for excommunication, if not burning at the stake, in some circles.  Now we need to understand, across the board, that we have domestic evil also.  People who rape, torture, and murder are evil, and there is no excuse.  No, a bad childhood does not predestine a person to be a serial killer.  Lots of people have bad childhoods but become good people.

We must recognize evil for what it is and treat it accordingly.

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