Rationalizing Evil

I have noticed something in my 56 years on this planet that is a little controversial. Okay, a lot controversial, and I say this because of the looks I have received.

Here goes.

There are certain acts that if you ask people if they are wrong, the answer is almost always “of course.” This includes murder, sexual assault, child rape, genocide, etc. But over and over again, we see plenty of evidence that for way too many people, the HONEST answer is “that depends.”

I live in Penn State country, where I have seen it with Jerry Sandusky. The defense of Joe Paterno, and Penn State administrators Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz, and Tim Curley I can see, to a point. One can argue that perhaps they just did not realize what was happening with Sandusky. But there are people who defend Sandusky, not just that he is falsely accused, but versions of this:

“Well, the kids accusing him are from THOSE kind of families, so can we trust them and besides, does this really have to bring down a man who has done so much good.”

In State College, there is a lot of siloed elitism, so socioeconomics drove this thinking. Many of Sandusky’s victims came from low-income, troubled homes. And Sandusky was like them, well-off and well-connected therefore we cannot be bad no matter what we do.

Sports is part of it as well, given Sandusky’s role as a coach for a major college football program. You see it quite often, fans often decide whether a player committing a crime is guilty or innocent based on whether that player is on their favorite team. Or even, whether the victim of the crime “had it coming,” which is quite common with crimes such as sexual assault or domestic abuse.

So it is with politics, where Trump voters not only ignore his history of sexual assault but embrace it. There has always been something very unsavory about the right’s thinking on sexual assault, which is based on the awful thinking that all women are liars about rape and if they were raped it probably had to do with how they were dressed.

Now, the version of this that involves killing children is once again front and center. Alexandria Petri, the wonderful Washington Post satirist, offered up a column about the word “but” in statements about bombing children.

We saw this immediately after 9/11. Every single person, including children, needed to be bombed in Afghanistan. Statements such as:

I believe in the sanctity of human life but I’m sorry, we must bomb Afghanistan into a parking lot no matter what.

That of course means killing a lot of innocent people. So it goes with Gaza.

We did not have social media during 9/11, but we did have online forums, and the similarities to what I see on TwitterX and Facebook remind me of what I saw on online forums in late 2001. Speaking of online forums, do yourself a favor and do not look at any story about the Palestinian-American child who was murdered by his landlord. Stabbing random Muslim American children is apparently justified by Hamas murdering children during their terror attack on Israel. It is just plain madness.

I would love to ask those people, a few years from now if stabbing a six-year-old to death is evil. I am sure the response will be “of course it is” and to which I would reply, that’s not what you thought in October 2023.

The last word goes to The Clash.


One thought on “Rationalizing Evil

Comments are closed.