Tag Archives: evil

Evil

isis

I haven’t watched the video. Yet I’m haunted by it.

I know that there is nothing especially novel about the savagery inflicted upon James Foley by some hooded spokesman for ISIS. I remember Daniel Pearl, of course. And I know there were others in Iraq and other fronts on the “War on Terror” who were dealt similarly inhumane fates.

I have opposed that “war” (against an emotion) with every breath, but still when I look at the stills, knowing what follows these freeze frames, I think of that man behind James Foley.

I think about that man in black and I become angry.

Seeing him there, knowing what he is about to do to a fellow human being…

It makes me want to see the whole of the United States’ very bloated, but very powerful military machine come down upon that desolate land of Iraq again. It makes me want to see smart bombs and Abrams tanks and Hellfire missiles and shock and awe and depleted uranium–and whatever else we have to show for trillions upon trillions of dollars in “defense” spending–wash over that failed state and this new, barbaric caliphate like a Biblical plague.

Over this coward in black.

He’s hiding behind that mask because he knows if he shows his face someone on an aircraft carrier will paint his name on a cruise missile this very night. Then one more explosion and he’ll be gone. How does that compare? The precision deployment of advanced munitions vs. sliding a blade into another human being’s neck, another human being right before your eyes. Criticize the inhumanity of dropping bombs from drones and scoring surgically precise kills via computer screens half a world away–and I have, I have criticized exactly that a thousand times–but it is still nothing compared to the brutality of feeling another human in the world directly before you–feeling the presence of that life through the warmth of the air, the smell of his terror, the movement of his breath–and snuffing that life out with your own hands.

It cannot be. I would rather be the cold, imperial America, playing puppet master and blasting columns of enemies from afar. Give me that any day over something so perverse as the world this man in black thinks he is bringing forth.

Let’s show this man what America’s military can really do. Let’s let loose the full fury, the things we had on the drawing boards to stop Russian tank columns in Europe, the dark and sinister weapons we’ve kept chained in lightless vaults until the day we really, really needed them. Let’s forget all the hearts-and-minds restraint, with smart missiles and official apologies. Just hit that patch of nothing on the map with enough incendiary rounds to turn the sand to glass.

Let it glisten through the ages like a gem made of wrath…

No, I don’t really want these things, but it’s tempting, isn’t it?

No, I don’t want to see this man’s blood. I don’t want to kill him, or his. I just want them to stop. I want them to let all those innocent civilians they’ve chased off for having the temerity to believe in a different invisible deity just live their lives. I want them to put down their guns and let better souls rebuild that country. I want them to go kick at the dust with their sandals, grow wise with age, and then regret.

I want evil to die out from the world, is what I’m saying.

A childish wish. A simplistic wish.

 

This Week in Republican Evil

The Right is sick.

Look to Republicanism of the past–of Eisenhower who built the interstate highway or even Nixon who proposed something quite similar to “Obamacare”–and you will not find anything resembling this current brand of American conservatism with its depraved attachment to an absolutist anti-government ideology. Any given week brings a slew of sheer idiocy from the talking heads of the Tea Party-bent, but this week was particularly foul.

Take, for example, the exchange on–you guessed it–Fox News between Bill O’Reilly and Rick Santorum. O’Reilly, acknowledging Nelson Mandela’s greatness while deriding him for being a “communist,” prompted Rick Santorum to reflect that, “[he] stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that. That’s the reason he’s mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed. But you’re right, I mean, what he was advocating for was not necessarily the right answer, but he was fighting against some great injustice, and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that.”

This is the narrative that these people fight, tooth and nail, to promote.

And it is one giant lie.

A well-funded lie. This myth of the big, evil government harkens back to the Reagan Republicanism, it’s true, but it has grown and mutated since then. No, not “mutated.” Mutation is a natural process that proceeds by capitalizing on random change. This shift in the ethos of the Republican party has been genetically engineered by massive influxes of cash from truly evil men.

As a palpable example, consider the agenda of the State Policy Network uncovered this week. This innocuous-sounding group is really just a confederation of various “think tanks” and 501c groups that have been used by big-money donors to conceal their efforts to reengineer society. The web of money sliding back and forth between nonprofit groups and their rich donors trying to shape policy while skirting effortlessly the laughably ineffective regulations meant to keep these groups out of the actual election process is mercifully not entirely invisible. We know that these groups command millions upon millions of dollars and thanks to a few brave souls actually practicing the nearly-lost arts of real journalism, we know where some of the money is coming from. The sources aren’t too surprising. Rich, anti-government fiends like the Koch brothers are paying for this agenda to save citizens from “government dependency.”

And herein lies the hypocrisy of these people.

Government dependency is an unspeakable evil–among the poor. Naturally, the Koch brothers’ fortune’s continuity is every bit as “dependent” on government as is an unemployed mother’s food stamps. Government regulates intellectual property, maintains order, promotes commerce through roads and even tax incentives, codifies their business models by protecting their liability as members of corporations, etc. etc. The Koch brothers and their ilk have no problem with government when it preserves their brand of capitalism.

What they resent and wage war against is government doing anything that does not directly benefit them.

I suppose in their twisted imaginations, this is just and right. After all, they are paying for it. Why shouldn’t they get exactly what they want out of government (and nothing more)? Low wages (Let ’em suffer–that’s their fault for not inheriting daddy’s fortune). No environmental interference (screw the future). No healthcare (um…I really don’t know how they rationalize this one–how can it ever seem just for people to waste away financially and physically in the richest society in human history because of illness?).

They act and speak as though government was evil. But what is evil? If the human condition is defined by both our reason and our empathy, then evil must be that which abandons both.

Government is simply our collective response to society’s challenges. It is how we choose to organize ourselves. Asking for smaller, more efficient government is a rational plea–one that past Republicans championed while still using government to serve the nation’s vital interests. Deriding government as evil and inherently wasteful is itself an evil. Not only is this anti-government ideology one that selfishly endangers a multitude to serve the interests of a few–failing the empathy test–but it is also irrational.

The Koch brothers and the other Tea Party sugar daddies have profited from an American prosperity that blossomed after World War II. That monstrous prosperity was built by a vigorous and strong middle class. Unions, a strong social safety net, investments in infrastructure, and ample funding for education created that unprecedented prosperity, and they were paid for by a tax structure that would turn these fiends sheet-white if it were enacted today. Yet even with a top tax rate three times as high as today, the rich prospered, because society prospered.

It wasn’t enough to satiate the greed of men like the Kochs, though, and slowly, over two generations, the ultra-rich and their ideological stooges–from detached intellectuals like Milton Friedman to rank buffoons like Santorum–have let them chip away at the foundation of our society. The costs we have all paid are now well documented: skyrocketing inequality, job exports, financial instability, and worsening environmental degradation.

These men are systematically destroying America to ramp up their profits.

If they could, they would burn down the world to sell off the ash.

Evil.