Carl Lender / Flickr Briny Breezes Loves Fox News...
Carl Lender / Flickr

I had a conversation with a friend last night about the nature of evil. She’s someone who’s very new-age spiritual in mindset, and we’ve had variations of this discussion before, but her perspective drives me nuts because she’s someone who should be smart enough to know better. The gist of her argument is a moral relativism which states there is no objective right and wrong in the universe. There are only differing viewpoints. So, for example, slavery is not evil per se, just a case of differing values and the context of the environments in which those values formed. And, to this end, in talking about Trump and conservative support for child abuse on our southern border, this friend of mine stated she didn’t think it was “evil,” just the fact privileged people don’t have the background or life experience to have an empathetic view towards people in this situation.

I believe this is absolute bullshit.

If someone sees suffering in front of them, or is told their actions are harming another, a person’s indifference to or rationalizations for it is evil. Because that’s what evil is: extreme selfishness. Whether it be slavery, pedophilia, child abuse, or just your average, every day dickish behavior towards one’s fellow man, all of them have in common that someone somewhere decided their pleasure and comfort were more important than someone else’s pain. This friend I’m talking about is also a vegan who in the past has lectured me about how I’m “consuming” the suffering and negative spiritual energy of an animal every time I have a cheeseburger or drink dairy. Well, if that’s true, then what the hell kind of consumption is going on when people either actively cheer, make excuses for, or are indifferent to children screaming for their parents?

The past 50 years of the conservative movement has been based in selfishness. Whether it’s a “fuck you, I got mine!” rejection of any social safety net, a need to impose their own religious tenets on others, or a glee from spite (i.e., “suck it, libtards”) when they destroy anything a Democratic president has accomplished, all of it is selfish. It’s always rooted in an individualism which borders on narcissism that’s all about them. It’s not about society. It’s not about the future. It’s about expressions of their needs and insecurities. All of this, in and of itself, has been bad enough, but it’s the sanctimonious rationalizations which piss me off the most.

Over the past year, I’ve written a lot about conservatives seeing themselves as victims and how that mirrors trends in popular culture. But it also has some rather disturbing historical implications as well. Because … history may not repeat, but it sure does rhyme.

From Janelle Wong at The Washington Post:

The media have been obsessed with white evangelicals’ unmovable support for Donald Trump. As a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows, white evangelicals continue to be dedicated to Trump. His support among this group is at the highest levels ever, despite his alleged moral trespasses and lack of religious orientation.

Research indicates white evangelical conservatism correlates strongly with their perceptions [of] anti-white discrimination, even after taking into account economic status, party, age and region. Fully 50 percent of white evangelical respondents to our 2016 survey reported feeling they face discrimination that’s comparable to, or even higher than, the discrimination they believe Muslim Americans face. Those who hold this perception are more likely to hold conservative attitudes on issues as wide-ranging as climate change, tax policy and health-care reform.

Here’s what is not behind these beliefs: economic anxiety. Like PRRI and political scientist Diana Mutz, I find economic anxiety isn’t a primary reason for supporting Trump. Rather, white evangelicals fear losing racial status. White evangelicals’ perceptions they’re the targets of discrimination – more so than other groups — influence far more than simply their votes for Trump … Yes, 80 percent of white evangelicals supported Donald Trump in 2016. And the racial fears and anxieties that underlie their support for the president will probably remain the driver in their political views long after he leaves office.

During and after the 2016 campaign, there were many analyses of the Trump voter which argued the situation was one of economics, and not connecting with white voter’s economic anxieties. The picture of poor Appalachian coal miners with no choice but to vote for idiocy out of fear was a popular narrative. Whether or not the narrative was true (and research like that quoted in the blockquote above disputes it), I always thought it was the deepest, darkest pit of cynicism to accept it as a reasonable aspect of politics. Many of these voters are the same people who sit in a church pew on Sunday extolling the virtues of Jesus, and believe they’ll meet him some day. If that day comes, and he asks them why they were willing to screw over other people, or were indifferent to children screaming for their parents in cages, do they really believe their bullshit rationalizations of money, security, or “protecting” a job will be enough? In the back of their own heads, do they even believe this crap?

Others will explain this strange phenomena by the propaganda machine which parrots lies and stupidity, mainly the sexual harassment operation that claims to be an organization for journalism known as Fox News. But this can’t all be explained away as a situation of manipulation of the ignorant by powerful interests. This is Plato’s shadows on the cave wall territory where selfish assholes choose to believe the lies.

And then the Charlotsville attack occurred, and the same thing happened. Again, the rationalizations came out. The Nazis and Klansmen with tiki torches aren’t all bad. There’s some “good” people in there too. What struck me was how the reaction of white conservatives mirrored white southerners during the Civil Rights era. The excuse of Antifa seemed at home if someone watched an old newsreel of gentile southerners talking about how killing Civil Rights workers is wrong, but it wouldn’t have happened without “outside agitators” being involved.

And, now, we literally have children in cages, and these same fuckers are still making excuses. The kids are actors. It’s like summer camp. How fucking disgusting can you be to put your own ideology above suffering? How does one live with themselves at the end of the day? Is it they’re this deluded into thinking we’re the bad guys? Or do they know it and just don’t care?

From Michael Harriot at The Root:

Whenever anyone mentions the historical atrocity of chattel slavery, white people will emerge from the dark crevices of humanity to gnaw away at the assertion like roaches on a discarded Cheeto. They will explain how most white people didn’t own slaves. They will offer a convoluted explanation about the Confederacy and Southern heritage. They will introduce the concept of “presentism”the idea that we shouldn’t judge the actions of people in the past using modern-day standards—as if the white people of the past couldn’t quite grasp the idea of inhumanity and brutality until 1861.

Everyone knew that slavery was evil. Everyone knew that Jim Crow was evil. Everyone knew that lynching was evil. Everyone knows that any kind of injustice or inequality is evil. These things persist because most white people don’t actively fight to eradicate them … Inequality and racism exist not because of evil but because the unaffected majority put their interests above all others, and their inaction allows inequality to flourish. That is why I believe that silence in the presence of injustice is as bad as injustice itself. White people who are quiet about racism might not plant the seed, but their silence is sunlight.
Many of those people don’t speak out because they fear alienation more than they hate racism. For them, the fear of having someone furrow their brow in their direction outweighs their hatred of sending children to an underfunded school knowing that they don’t have an equal chance at success because of the color of their skin.

This is who they are. This is what they believe. And there are no excuses.

The fundamental flaw with democracy as a system of government is that telling people what they want to hear is a far better path to success than telling them what they need to hear. There are solutions to attempt and choices to be taken, but we don’t because as individuals and as a culture we decide it would be too damn hard, or we devalue things, even when their value is self-evident, because we can rationalize being terrible to things which are devalued with little to no moral consequence. There have been too many tragedies, much suffering, and unneeded pain based on this combination of laziness and indifference.

Stephen_Miller.png
The “C+ Santa Monica Fascist” strikes again. In a plan worthy of his doppelganger Reinhard Heydrich, Miller is the architect of the United States government kidnapping thousands of children from their parents, and holding them hostage for $25 billion to build a dumbass wall.

Because it’s easier to lie to people and tell them we can cut taxes and still get the same government services than it is to be honest and say we all share a community that needs improvements and the help of resources from everyone. It’s much simpler to ignore climate change data than to acknowledge a problem and deal with it. If one wants to play on the fears and insecurities of a population, demagoguing immigrants and minorities as the cause of crime and unemployment is less complicated than finding a way to extend the American Dream to everyone here who wants to be part of it. All of this leads to a society resting upon a foundation of lies and a selfishness that eats away at the threads which are supposed hold us together as a country.

Evil exists. It’s right here in front of us.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It’s not just the wall. trump took big $$$ from these for profit prison corporations in bribes, (I mean campaign contributions), so he crafted a policy to fill these prisons with kidnapped brown children & the prison companies profit to the tune of billions. I saw a figure $775 per child per day. Pay to play.

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