Coming to Terms With Evil

How does the secular left deal with evil? Well, it has great difficulty in even recognising evil, argues Jewish commentator and radio host, Dennis Prager. In a new article in Citizen Magazine (September 2006) he argues that while a horrendous evil like 9-11 was terrible for America, it has been devastating for leftists who seem incapable of dealing with evil.

Says Prager, “A defining characteristic – not merely an unfortunate aspect – of the Left is its inability to recognize evil and its opposition to confronting it.”

In his article “Left Behind,” Prager gives two major examples of this. One was the left’s refusal to brand the former Soviet Union as evil. “That is easily documented by reading all the liberal editorials that condemned President Ronald Reagan’s characterization of the Soviet Union as an ‘evil empire.’ Anyone with a functioning moral compass knew that this was an entirely accurate description of the Soviet Union, yet the liberal/Left excoriated Reagan for describing the obvious.”

He continues, “From the 1960s onward, the vast majority of the Left reserved its vitriol not for the mass murderers in Beijing, Moscow, Hanoi, Phnom Penh and Pyongyang but for the Americans (and a handful of other Westerners) who opposed the Communists. It was not that liberals became pro-Communist; rather they abandoned liberal anti-Communism and joined the Left in becoming anti-anti-Communist.”

The fact that America stood up to the Communist killers upsets those on the left, says Prager. “It is a rule of life from elementary school on that those who do not fight the bully generally loathe the few who do. Those who fight bullies, as America does, force all those who think of themselves as good people to look into the mirror. And then one has four choices: join the bully fighter; don’t join but at least admire the bully fighter; deem oneself inadequate for not joining the bully fighter; or denounce the bully fighter as the aggressor. The latter is the dominant leftist attitude.”

A second example Prager cites is the seemingly inability of the left to confront and denounce violent criminals: “The Left inverts moral reality and condemns America’s domestic bully fighters, the police departments of the country, as the guilty party when they arrest and sometimes shoot muggers and murderers.”

Says Prager, “According to the Left, violent crime in America is caused primarily by America’s endemic racism and by poverty. The latter has been the Left’s explanation since Karl Marx: Economics determines behavior; poverty causes crime.”

He then turns to 9-11. “The Left was faced with a terrible dilemma. Whereas it was easy for the Left to label Timothy McVeigh [the Oklahoma bomber] evil since he came from the fringe Right, the Left has had a much harder time labeling Islamic terrorists as such.”

Instead of condemning such abhorrent acts of Muslim terrorism, leftists sought to put the blame on America, asking what it had done to deserve such hatred. “Again, the Left finds the bullied to be the genesis of the problem, not the bully: What has America done to earn such hatred? There is virtually no liberal academic, commentator, clergyman or politician who will say that the problem of Islamic terror is overwhelmingly within the Islamic world. It is rather, America’s (and, needless to say, Israel’s) fault that tens of millions of Muslims venerate mass murder.”

Why does the left seem so unable to name and condemn evil? “The reasons are not only psychological (fear of confrontation, fear of fighting, fear of dying, loathing of authority figures whether parental or divine, etc.). They are ideological. The Left has different values from the rest of us.”

“One such difference is the Left’s greater hatred of inequality than of evil. Leftists are not as troubled by evil as by social inequality. For the Left, the world revolves around economics. The Left began with Marx and others who explained the world in terms of economics and loathed, more than anything else, economic inequality. The real battle in the world, for Marx and the millions who believe in his theories, is not between good and evil. That view of the world is dismissed as a religious, and therefore primitive, preoccupation.”

He goes on, “For the Left the epic battle is, rather, between rich and the poor; bourgeoisie and proletariat, bosses and workers, corporations and society. And the greatest evil is not cruelty or dictatorship or even totalitarianism but rather poverty.”

Thus the war in Iraq is not viewed by the left as a response to an evil dictatorship, but simply the desire of America to get cheap oil. Everything is seen in terms of economics, so it is difficult to find evil anywhere, except in the capitalist West.

“That is a reason that few on the Left can even acknowledge that the people we are fighting in Iraq are evil. I have asked opponents of the war on my radio show and in my syndicated column whether they are prepared to at least acknowledge that those we are fighting are evil. After all, these people blow up fellow Muslims at prayer, bomb Iraqi nursing homes, target weddings with explosives, slaughter human beings like sheep in the name of religion and wish to institute a religious totalitarian state in which, among other things, women and gays (groups to whom the Left gives particularly passionate verbal support) will be treated like sub-humans. How can a leftist not call these people evil? But almost none can.”

Prager mentions two other problems. One is the “infatuation with pacifism” shared by many on the left. Another is an aversion to the Judeo-Christian tradition which does take evil seriously. “The Left adores Western Europe because it is a welfare society (fewer rich people, less social inequality) and because it is secular. The latter means a great deal to the Left. The Left regards itself as on a much higher intellectual and moral plane than the religious. And the thing that they most loathe about the religious is their belief that there are moral judgments to be made and that there is therefore a standard of good and evil to which everyone is accountable.”

He concludes: “All this leftist aversion to talk about evil has come to the fore since 9-11. In that sense, 9-11 was a catastrophe for the Left. It told most Americans exactly what the Left does not want Americans to believe: that there is major evil in the world which only America can truly fight; that America is not the Great Problem and, even worse, that the Great Problem regards America as its primary enemy; that sometimes only moral violence can end immoral violence; that people do terrible things for reasons having nothing to do with economics; that the U.N. is morally worthless; that America really is exceptional, and that there really is such as a thing as evil and those who fight it are better than those who fight the fighters.”

And it is not just Bush who has had the guts to take on evil. Blair and Howard have also shown some backbone here. Which is why whenever the left attacks these two men, they always present them as lapdogs of America. It infuriates the left to no end that some of our leaders might actually take a different perspective on the US than they do. But in a world which really does harbour evil, we need more perspective than the one-dimensional view so often trotted out by the left.

[1246 words]

2 Replies to “Coming to Terms With Evil”

  1. As a left leaning humanist, I find your argument of good vs evil too simplistic. I believe (probably to your distaste) that there are no such people on this earth that are ‘good’ or ‘evil’, However I would have no such problem defining the actions of people as evil and would readily condemn the actions of 9/11.

    You seem to argue that the US is a moral force for good and is standing up to bullies but this is evidently not the case. America is the worlds richest country with the most technologically advanced weapons that have been created to cause maximum carnage attacking the worlds poorest (even if they are unsavoury dictatorships).

    The other thing that you argue is that the left is obsessed with economics. Maybe this is true, but it brings a bitter taste to the mouth that billions of dollars have been spent on an unwinnable war which has resulted in thousands of deaths, while millions of people die from hunger and preventable diseases.

    The left does not regard itself as morally superior and would not seek to place itself on a pedestal. It only seeks to understand and combat social injustices.

    David Sturdy, Launceston

  2. Thanks David
    Yes I do think a case can be made that on the whole, America is a force for good in the world. For example, people seek to flee to places like America, not Iran or North Korea. Why is that?

    And your claim that American weapons are used to “cause maximum carnage” is simply not true. Every effort is taken to minimise civilian casualties and limit unecessary destruction. This is the exact opposite of the efforts of terrorists and rogue states.

    Thus I reject your doctrine of moral equivalence where you seem to equate the unintended excesses of the West with the deliberate evils of terrorist nations.

    And I am glad to learn that the left opposes social injustice. But I do not recall the left loudly denouncing the atrocities of Saddam when he was in power, or the abortion holocaust for example. Perhaps the left is selective in its outrage.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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