Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Do you hate evil?

Dennis Prager, writing in the Jewish World Review, believes that hate can be a positive value:
A core value of the Bible is hatred of evil. Indeed, it is the only thing the Bible instructs its followers to hate — so much so that love of G-d is equated with hatred of evil. "Those who love G-d — you must hate evil," the Psalms tell us.

Leave to one side the idea that "hate" didn't mean the same thing to the ancient world as it does to us; let's see where Prager is going with this.
In the contemporary Western world, most people who identify with the Left — meaning the majority of people — hate war, corporations, pollution, Christian fundamentalists, economic inequality, tobacco and conservatives. But they rarely hate the greatest evils of their day, if by evil we are talking about the deliberate infliction of cruelty — mass murder, rape, torture, genocide and totalitarianism.

That is why communism, a way of life built on cruelty, attracted vast numbers of people on the Left and why, from the 1960s, it was unopposed by most others on the Left.

Even most people calling themselves liberal, not leftist, hated anti-communism much more than they hated communism. When President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire," liberals were outraged — just as they were when President George W. Bush called the regimes of North Korea, Iran and Saddam Hussein's Iraq an "axis of evil."

Ask leftists what they believe humanity must fight against, and they will likely respond global warming or some other ecological disaster (and perhaps American use of armed force as well).

An interesting argument: liberals are wrong not because their political ideas or commitments are wrong, but because they despise the wrong things. Prager continues:
In fact, the Left throughout the world generally has contempt for people who speak of good and evil. They are called Manichaeans, moral simpletons who see the world in black and white, never in shades of grey.

As the leading German weekly magazine, Der Spiegel, recently wrote: "Mr. Bush's recent speeches have made no retreat from the good vs. evil view of the world that the Europeans hate."

Patrice de Beer, an editor of the leading French newspaper, Le Monde, wrote that in the European Union: "The notion of the world divided between Good and Evil is perceived with dread."

Entirely typical of the Left's view of good and evil is this series of questions posed on the leftist website Counterpunch by Gary Leupp, professor of history and of comparative religion at Tufts University: "Questions for discussion. Was Attila good or evil to invade Gaul? Saddam good or evil to invade Kuwait? Hitler good or evil to invade Poland? Bush good or evil to invade Iraq? Are 'good' and 'evil' really adequate categories to evaluate contemporary and historical events?"

Western Europeans and their American counterparts loathe the language of good and evil and correctly attribute it to religious — i.e., Judeo-Christian — values. Among those values is fighting evil and "burning evil out from your midst." And to do that, you have to first hate it. Because if you don't hate evil, you won't fight it, and good will lose.

Honestly, I'm at something of a loss here. What do you say to such a perspective?

How about: hate is never a positive value, no matter how loathsome the object? Hate by its very nature degrades those who participate in it. It brings them down to the level of that which they despise--if not lower.

And: Mr. Prager, your sources have it exactly right, and you have it exactly wrong. Shades of black and white are not adequate to describe the world around us, particularly its geo-political nuances. For what we have learned is that we are all children of the light and children of the darkness; to paraphrase Reinhold Niebuhr, the line between good and evil runs down through the human population, but down the middle of each and every last one of them.

So to hate evil is to hate and fight oneself, to hate and fight that which makes us human, because we are so thoroughly intermixed: one with another, good with evil. And in that, to hate what is evil is to ensure that the good will lose.

At 6:54 PM, Blogger Editor Choice said...

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