When did we stop acknowledging evil and try to justify or explain it instead?
I find myself asking this question as the media scrapes the bottom of the barrel of classmates who knew alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhr Tsarnaev. He was a “quiet, sweet boy.” He was “an angel.” He was a lifeguard, a student, a normal kid. Well I don’t know about you, but “normal” teenagers don’t detonate bombs feet away from an 8-year-old child.
Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov, suggested that the Tsarnaev brothers learned their evil ways, claiming, “It is necessary to seek the roots of evil in America.” Others have suggested that he is the product of a bad upbringing. However, no matter what the explanation of the moment may be, the words “terrorist” and “evil” have become far from politically correct.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, to be completely honest. We simply don’t label evil anymore. James Holmes? Well he was inspired by the violence media. Oh and he had a gun, which obviously turn normal Americans into vicious killers. Or something. Adam Lanza was also armed and had been on some sort of medication. According to the left, Jared Loughner was incited by the “violent rhetoric” spun by the Tea Party (give me a break). Kermit Gosnell is merely a product of an unregulated abortion system. No matter what the blameworthy person or cause of the day, our culture always finds a way to point the finger away from the person who pulled the trigger (or planted the bomb, etc.).
When did it become so horrible to call out evil for what it is? I don’t know about you, but I have no issue with calling someone who takes innocent lives for whatever reason evil. Shooting up a theater of innocent movie-goers? That’s evil. Snipping the spines of living, breathing babies? That’s evil. No amount of political correctness should keep us from labeling an evil act for what it is. Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly what’s happening. No one wants to “label” another human being so we keep our mouths shut. Tucson shooter Jared Loughner had obvious issues long before he pulled the trigger on that fateful January day. Yet we didn’t hear about the numerous safety reports regarding his behavior in college until after he had been arrested. By then it was too late. Apparently the doctrine of “if you see something, say something” has gone by the wayside.
G. K. Chesterson said, “Unless a man becomes the enemy of an evil, he will not even become its slave but rather its champion.” No wonder we have so many problems in the world today. How can you possibly become an enemy of evil if you’re not even willing to claim it exists? Nowadays it isn’t evil anymore; it’s a violent culture, poor upbringing, etc. We’re no longer a nation of personal responsibility. Rather, we’re people of collective blame.
C. S. Lewis said, “God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right.” We’re a flawed species; evil will exist until the end of time. However, it will run rampant and we will become passive supporters to the forces of evil if we’re unwilling to call it out as we see it. How will we even have a shot at preventing the next terrorist attack if we’re still trying to justify the last one? Evil is evil is evil is evil. There’s no other way to put it. You want to know why “Uncle Ruslan” is so loved? It’s because we as a people crave those who blatantly label evil for what it is. However, our slow cultural shift from individuality to collectivism makes it politically incorrect to say so. Individuals are no longer to blame. It’s society, it’s families, it’s medications, it’s guns. We are free to choose good or evil, but with this freedom comes a duty. We have the duty to avoid evil individually and label it when it’s committed by another. Acknowledgement is the first step towards victory over evil. As Chesterton said, we cannot merely be passive observers in the fight between good and evil. We must become the enemy of evil or else we are doomed to become its passive supporters from now until the end of time.
Amy Lutz | St. Louis University | @amylutz4