Calling Evil By Its Name

I’m afraid. I’m very afraid. I fear for my children and future grandchildren. I fear for everybody’s children and future grandchildren. Because there truly are evil people in this world. George Bush has told us so. “We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name” Bush said in a speech at the United States Military Academy on June 1, 2002. And, no, this wasn’t the first time he’d spoken about good vs. evil and, certainly, it was not and will not be the last. It, perhaps, is the president’s most inspired message because as a recruitment tool, it has sent swarms of young men and women, and even older than young men and women, to join the military. By framing his vision to reshape the Middle East as a “conflict between good and evil,” Bush has exploited both goodness and evil with appeals to patriotism and sacrifice–declaring it our destiny as a moral nation to overcome the evil that exists in countries judged immoral by the “Decider.”

By saying “evil” over and over, Bush dehumanizes inhabitants of target lands. By emphasizing the goodness of the USA and our moral obligation to spread democracy, to bring freedom at gunpoint as our God-given right, Bush has convinced a large portion of our population that killing thousands of Iraqi civilians in the name of battling evil and spreading democracy is an acceptable fact of war. How many people here know or care that in the last 15 days, almost 700 Iraqi civilians have died? That over 40 U.S. troops have been killed? Or that Bush invaded Iraq, based on fabricated evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? And that no WMD were found? How many people care that George Bush said that the violence in Iraq would subside when Hussein was captured? Was killed? Or that Bush was warned that an invasion would result in sectarian war? How many care or really think about what we have done and continue to do to the people of Iraq? To military families here at home? And that Bush is poised to strike Iran because of the evil he perceives there?

I’m afraid. I’m afraid and I fear for my children and future grandchildren because of evil. The evil residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the evil living at Number One Observatory Circle. These two, along with the rest of their ultraconservative administration and a complicit Congress are an axis of evil, thrusting their ultimatums with oppressively brutal footprints on countries to be conquered while telling us that foreign terrorists wish to kill us because they, the terrorists, are jealous of our freedom.

Let’s identify those who really want to remove our liberties and distort all that we hold dear. Let’s recognize that an agenda of evil has caused us to be hated throughout most of the world.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid because the evil that exists in my world owns the mainstream media, those blathering, emoting, eye-lined and eye-shadowed, mascara-lashed objects that bring us stories about Paris Hilton’s rash and rarely mention depleted uranium exposure and its effects on our troops and the people of Iraq. I’m afraid because so many of my fellow citizens seem to be more interested in the escapades of the stars and titillating stories than in what is being done in our names–cataclysmic destruction, torture, and death.

Let’s call evil by its name–American imperialism. And leadership that profits from the anguish of others.


Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: