Sunday, March 29, 2009

On the Denial of Evil...

Be sure to read the full essay at Critical Narrative, "Cultural Arrogance and the Denial of Evil," which offers a penetrating contrast between the moral clarity of George W. Bush and the multicultural relativism of Barack Obama:

Obama is touted as a post-modern, post-racial (whatever that means) president. An intelligent, multicultural citizen of the world ... Yet, he demonstrates precious little knowledge of even the most basic ideas of culture. He does not seem to accept that he is American in his essence and that his core values and beliefs are not those of the rest of the world.

At the core of this highly-extolled belief is a denial of other cultures' intricacies and even their existences. In an effort to make ourselves closer to other cultures, we have taken the short-cut. Instead of attempting to understand the other, the multiculturalist learns enough to make analogies with America and then foolishly proclaims "Oh, they're just like us," and then assigns them our value system. Thus our understanding is preceded by our demand for the other culture's conformity to our conceptions.

From this mind-set we get lines from Obama such as "Indeed, you will be celebrating your New Year in much the same way that we Americans mark our holidays -- by gathering with friends and family, exchanging gifts and stories, and looking to the future with a renewed sense of hope." Such superficial similarities are touted and thought of as being some sort of inroad to deep understanding. Golly gee! Why this sounds just like our Christmas or a birthday! Wholly missing is any attempt to understand the cultural significance of such foreign holidays, the values it espouses, and the stamp that it makes the minds of the people. Rather ironic is multiculturalism's demand that such shallow comparisons be used to make ourselves understood to others. We make them judge us in the same superficial manner in which we judge them.

Yet even the concept of evil is uncomfortable for mainstream America. It's something from movies, presented as enticing, darkly intelligent and melodramatic (like Hannibal Lecter and Jigsaw from the endless string of "Saw" films). But it is also safely isolated from reality-- a Hollywood trick designed to titillate our sense of macabre, not unlike the make-up effects of zombie flicks or slasher films. To suggest now that evil is real is not unlike suggesting that the "Force is with us."

Bush was roundly criticized for his "Axis of Evil" concept, and intellectuals (and those who pretend to be) often bashed him for his "wild west" good versus evil mentality. Apparently we're too smart and sophisticated for such antiquated concepts.

When mentioning Hitler and the Nazis, most people can agree that they were indeed evil, but when asked why most just mumble things about the holocaust and WWII. Many roll their eyes as if the question itself is ridiculous. Of course Nazis are evil... It's as if asking if the sky was blue. Nazis have become transformed in our eyes, warped into demons and monsters... and of course monsters are evil. And when we do this, when we cut ourselves off from the truth of the matter-- the truth that Nazis were living, breathing, passionate, rational and intelligent human beings-- then we learn nothing from the horrifically expensive lessons of WWII. The simple truth of the matter, something that never sat very well in the minds of the WWII generations, is that living, passionate, rational, and intelligent human beings are capable of great evil and the greatest of atrocities. It is essential to approach the Nazis first and foremost as human beings. When we dehumanize the Nazis, dismiss them as cartoonish villains and bogeymen, we cannot begin to understand the way in which this evil came about and how it has repeated itself since.

Such approaches don't sit well with our fashionable humanist attitudes of today, the open celebrations of the human spirit (though we so seem to know so little of it), the hallowing of our great compassion and our so vehemently believed in natural compulsion for good. This belief persists despite the great atrocities of the recent past (the holocaust, the genocides of the Khmer Rouge, the Japanese' wholesale murders of Nanking and much of China and Southeast Asia, the devastation in Rwanda, the mass killing in Uganda, the multiple genocides perpetrated by Red China, the millions [possibly tens of millions] killed by Stalin, the Turkish attempt to eradicate the Armenians, etc.) that demonstrate man's capibility for great destruction. Armed only with optimism that seems born purely of self-love and humanistic faith, we mostly ignore all this evil. If we do acknowledge it, we shunt it off as the work of dehumanized monsters such as the Nazis, offer excuses (a friend of mine actually compared the building of the Hoover Dam with Kim Il-sung's brutal North Korean "modernizations"-- "people die when building infrastructure") and deny evidence. But mostly we don't allow it to sink in, we refuse to internalize this ugly affront to our beautiful conception of human nature.

Hat Tip: And So it Goes in Shreveport.

6 comments:

Law and Order Teacher said...

Dr.D,
This is right on. It is essential to the inculcation of relativism in western culture to deny the humanity of these purveyors of inhumanity. This then allows relativists to reconcile these evil people and their deeds as some sort of abomination. It is an unfortunate truth that human beings are very capable of great evil. History doesn't lie.

Donald Douglas said...

Thanks Law and Order Teacher!

Ron Russell said...

Unfortunately, many like our new leader see the world in shades of gray, and fail to see the black and white reality that actually exist. Obama is a socialist idealist who sees some flaws in the world some flaws that he believes he can change in time. His is what view is what I call Utopian Socialism. His ideal of what the world should be according to his beliefs and values. Every man has some dream of Utopia and that is fine. But the utopian socialist wants all to accept his dream. Therein lies the rub. The world has had many leaders with such qualities and all have been swept away by the unrush of events, which in the end they found themselves unable to control. So it is with idealist.

Mark30339 said...

Excellent post. Relativism was feverishly at work within the Third Reich and the Bolshevik Revolution - both very human movements led gradually, day by day, into ever greater darkness.

Dave said...

The left has introduced the idea of multiculturalism for only one reason:

When you convince members of a superior culture that they are no better than members of an inferior culture, say one whose members stand around urinating in their drinking water, those who live in the superior culture will be far less willing to defend their own.

In the 1960's, many on the left tried very hard to convince Americans that our culture was no better than that of the North Vietnamese. More recently they are insisting that our culture is no better than that of the Islamists.

-Dave

Trish said...

Yeah yeah yeah, and terrorists are not enemy combatants, and an attack isn't an attack.
A rose by any other name, is still a friggin ROSE!
Calling something like Global terrorism by a name that inspires righteous fear, and patriotism, makes sense. Has a nice ring to it too, Global War On Terror. No misunderstanding what is meant by this phrase. And it makes me want to stand up and join the cause, to free the globe from terror!

Calling something akin to Global Terrorism by a name that is politically correct for all the wrong reasons, inspires stupidity, ignorance and dangerous apathy.

Overseas Contingency Operation, sounds like a plan to send your naughty children to a boarding school in Switzerland, if they don't straighten up.

This Admin is full of whining liberals who want to see us fail.