Brog's Blog

December 14, 2009

Evil Does Exist In The World

Filed under: All Posts — brogsblog @ 8:00 pm

Accepting his Nobel Peace Prize in Norway last week, President Obama shared a crucial insight with those in attendance.  It was an insight with which many of the assembled dignitaries no doubt disagreed.  It was an insight which I was not sure Obama himself embraced until the words left his lips.  President Obama stated that: “Evil does exist in the world.”
This observation — that evil exists in the world — is one of the core Judeo-Christian contributions to Western civilization.  This recognition of the reality of evil has been the ideological bedrock of conservative thought.  Acknowledging the reality of evil has likewise been the foundation of the pragmatic liberalism of men such as Reinhold Niebuhr and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.  This is the key insight which separates those who resist evil from those who collaborate with it.
Recognizing that evil exists in the world might seem to many of us to be as basic as recognizing that trees exist in the world.  No PhD required here.  Yet know this — millions of your fellow Westerners refuse to acknowledge the reality of evil.  They don’t see the trees, and thus they do not see the dark forest.
In recent decades, the idea that there is no absolute good and evil in the world has taken root in our universities and sprouted branches deep into our culture.  What you and I might see as evil, many people simply characterize as being the “different” path of a “unique” culture.  And who are we to judge others?  Such fuzzy relativism results in a shocking moral paralysis.  And it leads those who refuse to judge our enemies to judge, and judge quite harshly, those among us who dare to do so.
Thus when our leaders have recognized evil in the world and called it by its name, they have been subject to sustained and vociferous condemnation.  Recall the reaction when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”  Remember the response when George W. Bush spoke of an “Axis of Evil” comprised of Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Each remark was greeted with complete shock and outrage — not only by those so accused, but by so many mainstream observers right here at home.
The fact that President Obama both recognizes the existence of evil in the world and is wiling to say so in such a prominent public setting is thus extremely important.  Furthermore, Obama did not merely make the observation in the abstract.  Like Reagan and Bush, he named names.  In his speech, President Obama noted that the Nazis were evil and that we therefore could not have defeated them without force.  More importantly, he acknowledged that Al Qaeda is evil and that negotiations thus cannot convince them to lay down their arms.
The urgent question before us now is whether our President recognizes that Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah fall into the same category as Al Qaeda.  Does he see that Iran is ruled by an evil regime, and that Hamas and Hezbollah are evil organizations?  Does this lead him to conclude that the threats they pose cannot be eliminated through negotiations?
Last month, Iran snubbed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s demands to stop its illegal nuclear program and vowed instead to escalate it.  Since then there has been a renewed momentum towards imposing serious economic sanctions upon Iran.  There are indications that the Obama Administration is finally prepared to support such sanctions as the best way to prevent a nuclear Iran.  While long overdue, these sanctions remain the most effective peaceful means we have our disposal to convince the Iranians to abandon their dangerous course.
It is good that the President recognizes that evil exists in the the world.  Now let’s hope that he knows it when he sees it.


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