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Instant Debate Closure: Just Call Something 'Evil'

By       Message Robert S. Becker       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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Caught flatfooted in a heated exchange? Mining your brain waves for a zinger that leaves all rivals speechless? What you need is that most forceful put-down -- flourished by good moralists and bad shamans alike, popes and politicians galore, Know-Nothings and literate intellectuals alike. Whether over festive dinners, on a date or online, simply impugn the inexcusable as "evil" -- nothing more instantly seals mouths shut. Invoking evil not only spears the heart of darkness but confirms your own probity: only the good after all realize the worst of the worst. "Evil" is universal default that summarily declares here's an offense that violates all human decency.

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It's not as if evil persons think THEY commit evil? The worst villains go to the grave loudly justifying, as the Great Decider, they had no choice. "Evil" is the coup de grace (however graceless) pronounced with such finality that no more can be -- or should be said. And yet "evil" (or good) has no place on the periodic table, nor slips into testable methods, resistant to the glories of science. Evil declarations justify themselves, like all self-evident truths, say, "all men are created equal." Or all citizens deserve the rights to own an arsenal. Hardly any debate on those matters in 240 years.

The rhetoric of good and evil comes from the bowels of old-time religion and theological self-interest, broadcasted today by diverse sects that survived time and conflict. In every religion, putative "evil" opposes (and is thus defined by) "good," fixed in decidedly unambiguous commandments. Like the risible Ten Commandments. "Evil" is thus further enhanced not just as the absence of good, but for god-botherers the absence of God.

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Beware All Evil-doers

Thus, the born-again Dubya indicted "evil-doers" as not just heinous terrorists, but outsider threats, voiced in his 9/11 Mount Rubble war cry: "you're either with us or against us." Certifying foes as "evil-doers" makes them instant mortal enemies, so then all bets are off when dishing out punishment. Get the circular logic yet? Never address how America causes overseas mayhem, only judge "them" by destructive retaliation against the tribe of Yankees? Thus, for all pious warriors, "God must be on our side," for would He be our God if he weren't? And that confirms right is on our side, all we need to forget Jesus' hard teaching to "Love thy enemy."

That's why verbal black and white bombshells, obsessed with naming evil, precede real bombs. That's the mindset behind the Trump's blast against all Muslims at our gates: demagoguery feasts on the power of evil to indict one billion earthlings, despite the dizzying array of Muslim beliefs, sects, geographies, skin-color and continents. By Trumpster logic, the tsunami of terrorism knows no bounds, so illogically a tiny part (thousands) stands for the whole. "Us vs. them" allows any two gangs to face off, clinging to the same empty categories. Do not both sides hold fast to goodness when assaulting evil "over there"? Thus do evil and good coalesce as the most expedient of human curses.

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Metaphors Turned War Cries

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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)

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