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Misunderstanding evil

By Murray Soupcoff
web posted May 19, 2003

One of the most incisive critics of today's politically-correct cant is Theodore Dalrymple, the pseudonym for an English physician/psychiatrist who prefers the comfort of relative anonymity. His most recent contribution to the cause of international clarity is a brief essay on the City Journal web site, entitled The Morality of Terror.

Basically, Dalrymple sums up his thesis in two cogent opening paragraphs:

"At the recent meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference in Malaysia, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammed Mahathir, said 'the causes of bitterness and anger . . . of terrorists should be identified and removed.' He added that people would not be willing to blow themselves up and kill others if they did not have a reason.

Indeed not: human beings always have a reason for behaving as they do. The question is not whether they have a reason, but whether the reason they have is a good one..."

Theodore Dalrymple doesn't believe the terrorists' have a good reason. And he most definitely doesn't belong to the "We must understand the root causes" school of morality or foreign policy.

Yet, in contrast, the Malaysian Prime Minister's original remarks were sympathetically reported by a surprising number of news sources in Europe and North America.

However, should that really be a surprise? Opposing reactions to a variety of Islamofascist terror attacks around the world in the last three years have underscored the great divide that separates the politically-correct proponents of an enlightened leftism of "tolerant" multiculturalism (and peace at any price) and those few of us still living in the real world.

Repeatedly, no matter what the murderous provocation, the liberal-left tolerance crowd have still managed to find "root causes" for the actions of ethnic terrorists in the form of such "blame the victim" golden-oldies as injurious Western globalism, imperialism, economic exploitation, insensitivity and arrogance. And of course, once the left finds "roots causes," then it goes without saying that no guilt or responsibility can be assigned to the left's designated "victims" of such root causes -- even terrorists who may have just bombed, maimed or murdered innocent American, Israeli, Australian or Indonesian civilians.

In such cases, the victims of Western, imperialist perfidy may have indeed "lashed out" -- for example in the case of the youthful anti-imperialist insurrectionists "acting out" post-colonial frustrations through the "bold" exploits of 9/11. However, their motivations and actions have been "misunderstood" by simple-minded, emotional souls such as you and me. For it is only by turning the other cheek and extending a hand of ever-tolerant understanding will such irrational violence in the world be ultimately pacified and miraculously washed away -- or so we are constantly reminded by empathetic and caring progressives.

Indeed, if proponents of unbridled capitalism are sometimes overly hung-up with the economic healing powers of the much-celebrated free-market "invisible hand," the liberal-left proponents of multicultural understanding show an even greater faith in the truly magical powers of tolerance, good will and empathy in calming the turbulent waters of international savagery -- no matter how twisted, demented, violent, manipulative or evil the aggressors are.

And yes -- just like that much-maligned "ignoramus" and "warmonger," George W Bush -- we've gone and done it. We've used (gasp!) the much-maligned "e" word -- evil.

In fact, let's put all our cards on the table. In our book, Hitler was evil, Stalin was evil, Pol Pot was evil, Saddam Hussein is (or was) evil , and the twisted Islamofascist mullahs, who in the name of G-d preach unprovoked terroristic murder against Western "infidels," are evil.

And that, folks, is what the great divide separating today's pie-in-the-sky, leftist-oriented multicultural apologists from today's conservative realists is really all about. Unlike utopian leftists, the realists recognize that humans from all cultures, religions and nationalities are capable of evil, capable of being seduced by the irrational dark forces of self-serving hate, vanity and suppressed violence that comprise an essential component of human nature (although granted, such dark inclinations seem to particularly predominate in the personalities of a dangerous few).

Of course, today's most brilliant academics teach us (and our children) that there is no such thing as good and evil, just structurally-situated morality. So, you might ask, how do we assess what is evil?

Well, actually, by simply turning to time-honored Western traditional religious, moral, philosophical and political definitions of what is good and bad -- to the basic self-evident truths which have evolved into the core values of Western civilization (values which were once celebrated in high-school and college textbooks, but now have been discredited by the cynical cants of "post-colonial" deconstruction and moral relativism). And by further turning to the core philosophical, political and moral beliefs which motivated the architects of the first Western constitutional democracies, particularly the "founding fathers" (and mothers too) of the noble republican constitutional experiment which is the United States of America.

And then guess what we do then? We make moral judgements (horror of horrors!).

Yes, we become "judgmental" and we say that the Nazi and Cambodian holocausts were bad, that Stalin's murderous purges and state-engineered famine in the Ukraine were evil, and that Osama Bin Laden and his fanatical Islamofacist fellow travellers around the world are bad, are evil, and are just plain wrong. Period. With no "deconstructive" attempts to justify, rationalize or legitimize the unjustifiable, the irrational or the illegitimate. And no attempts to "understand," to "find root causes," or to simply avert our eyes in the name of peaceful co-existence or averting conflict.

As several contemporary commentators (including Monica Charen and George Will) have reminded us in the past year, the wise words of Edmund Burke sum it up best: "There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men."

Unfortunately, the core philosophical disagreement in our society these days seems to come down to a conflict between the cautious conservative wisdom of Burke and the wishful thinking and utopian zeal of romanticist day dreamers such as Jimmy Carter, Kofi Anan, Noam Chomsky, the Archbishop of Canterbury and their fellow proponents of "negotiated" world peace (it would be too big a compliment to include the likes of Barbara Streisand, Janeine Garafola and The Dixie Chicks in such semi-august company).

The bottom line is that there is always evil in the world. And it must be opposed with strength, firm resolve, and (if necessary) force.

Hence, the current determined leadership of George W. Bush in the contemporary battle against world terrorism. In summoning the will of the American people to utilize America's might to oppose the forces of Islamofascist global terrorism (al-Qaida), and murderous tyranny (Saddam Hussein), U.S. President George W. Bush has simply been following the noble example of such courageous democratic leaders as Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

Of course, in the minds of too many murderous demagogues, tyrants and despots, there simply is no morality. For them, right is might.

That's why America has no choice but to use its own might to oppose and defeat these forces of evil -- and to establish yet again the "rightness" of the eternal truths that underlie the best traditions of Western civilization and constitutional democracy.

Murray Soupcoff is the author of 'Canada 1984' and a former radio and television producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He also was Executive Editor of We Compute Magazine for many years, and is now the Managing Editor of the popular conservative Web site, The Iconoclast.

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