FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Evil Acts and Evil Actors

by DIANE CHRISTIAN

What is the difference between evil acts and evil actors? An act is an action, an actor an agent. Does evil come from acts or from agency? Both, you might say. Evil acts are evil and evil humans do evil acts. Can evil humans do good acts? Can evil acts do good? How do we regard and treat evil acts and evil humans? This is the question. How you answer here tells your tale, tolls the bell of your morality.

Bush & his war team believe evil acts can do good-as in bombing and destroying enemies and cities and orchards. This is acknowledged necessary evil which is justified (made good) by a good end. That end is to destroy perpetrators of evil acts, to eliminate evil humans-the doers of past evil acts and the future source and danger of more evil acts. The idea is if we get the source, we’ll revenge and stop evil.

Recently we went after Saddam Hussein and Osama binLaden who served as incarnations of evil men. One was a brutal dictator the other a terrorist who sought to destroy our nation calling it ‘The Great Satan.’ They ran countries and networks that hated us and wished us evil. So we bombed them and killed their supporters and killed and burned and wounded thousands of innocent people. Their deaths and wounds were regarded as collateral damage or tragic mistakes or fog of war errors; they weren’t called evil acts because we did them meaning good. They were unfortunate sacrifices to our good action. Similarly our troops were the good agents of our necessarily evil acts in the service of our good ends. Their deaths and wounds and psychic trauma are called heroic, patriotic, noble. They are justified and ennobled by our good end-to eliminate evil.

The incarnations of evil in this case-Saddam and bin Laden-eluded our military prowess and continue to provoke and counsel evil. And if we do smoke them out of their holes-to use the President’s favorite hunting figure-it’s hard to imagine it will quell the evil feelings aroused by our ‘evil-destroying’ actions.

The sad truth is you can’t stop evil acts except by condemning them and refusing to do them yourself. The dreamers who think if Hitler had been killed all would be well are foolish. Hitler made his evils legal, he passed laws. World leaders like Churchill thought he was good until it was clear how bad he was. Many went along. If soldiers like the Israeli 30 refused to kill, fewer people would be dead. Nazi is now code for evil but it comes from acts. There are many genocides-American Indians for example. Those who execute racist policies do those evil acts even if they have been victims in a former time of those acts. It is acts that define evil, not humans. Humans can be evil or good by doing evil or good acts. Acts don’t have the human option. They are a better guide to good or evil.

Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush are both bent on destroying evil. They accuse each other of incarnating evil. They incarnate the weakness of a moral imagination that projects all bad onto an other and licenses murder. ‘The Satan’ in Hebrew means ‘The Accuser.’

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

 

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail