Saturday, 3 July 2004

Accusations of Evil

A friend of mine whose political proclivities differ substantially from mine, bemoans the rancor, incivility, shrillness, and accusations of evil employed by both sides in the current political season. My friend, whose dismay is informed by his deeply held religious beliefs, rightly notes:
Evil is a strong word and a loaded word. Evil lies within the hearts of all men. ... Where you have any man you have the elements of evil. Where you have any institution of men you have the elements of evil. Of course you also have the opposite -- good, purity, the amazing capacity for selfless service, joy, peace, and above all reconciliation and forgiveness. I believe even the lowest of men are redeemable, therefore no man is purely evil. Nor do I believe that I personally have the insight into a man's heart (especially men I know only by what others pro or con have written ...) "Walk a mile in a man's moccasins ..."
For my part, I will reserve evil accusations not for individuals but for clear movements of an evil force such as the holocaust, or the Bataan death march, or American slavery (any slavery), etc ... All of these are examples that anyone influenced by evil can do things that otherwise their good educated common sense would not let them do!
Sage advice for anyone engaging in political discourse, I believe, lest they become too smug in their own righteousness.

Leading the world's strongest nation in a world filled with conflict and powerful means of destruction is a job I do not envy, and I certainly appreciate that leaders are called upon to make decisions where ill-effect might be anticipated from every imaginable option. How best to handle Saddam for instance, whether one year ago or ten years ago is not a question to which I have a comfortable answer.

Where I get agitated is when evidence suggests that avarice trumps human concerns in the making of life and death decisions. To the extent to which I think that is likely, I think it is my duty to say so. If saying so happens to impugn someone's character, I'll not back away from stating what I believe to be true just in the interest of being nice. I will avoid personalizing the accusation and illogically tainting all policy and actions of a particular individual or institution based on an instance where I believe a wrong-headed decision was made. If, however, there appears to be a pattern of ill-conceived decisions on the part of an individual or institution in power, then it only makes sense to apply greater scrutiny to all decisions and policies emanating from that entity.

Pardon me, but I see a pattern. From Halliburton to Enron to Saudi connections to secret energy task forces, I see a pattern. From exaggerated or fabricated claims about WMD to exposing CIA agents identities to withholding information about the real cost of a prescription drug bill, I see a pattern. It's not necessary for me to believe that the administration is evil in order to conclude that they are untrustworthy, and hence undeserving of another four years in office.

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