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Hate evil: Case for Judeo-Christian values, part VII

Tuesday, Mar 1, 2005

Do you hate evil?

Much of humanity doesn’t. But if you embrace Judeo-Christian values, you must.

A core value of the Bible is hatred of evil. Indeed, it is the only thing the Bible instructs its followers to hate — so much so that love of God is equated with hatred of evil. “Those who love God — you must hate evil,” the Psalms tell us.

The notion of hating evil was and remains revolutionary.

The vast majority of ancients didn’t give thought to evil. Societies were cruel, and their gods were cruel.

Nor did higher religions place hating evil at the center of their worldviews. In Eastern philosophy and religion, the highest goal was the attainment of enlightenment (Nirvana) through effacing the ego, not through combating or hating evil. Evil and unjust suffering were regarded as part of life, and it was best to escape life, not morally transform it.

In much of the Arab and Muslim world, “face,” “shame” and “honor” define moral norms, not standards of good and evil. That is the reason for “honor killings” — the murder of a daughter or sister who has brought “shame” to the family (through alleged sexual sin) — and the widespread view of these murders as heroic, not evil. That is why Saddam Hussein, no matter how many innocent people he had murdered, tortured and raped, was a hero to much of the Arab world. As much evil as he committed, what most mattered was his strength, and therefore his honor.

As for the West, with notable exceptions, Christians did not tend to regard evil as the greatest sin. Unbelief and sexual sin were greater objects of most Christians’ animosity. Over time, however, many Christians came to lead the battle against evil — from slavery to communism. And today, it is not coincidental that America, the country that most thinks in terms of good and evil, is the country that most affirms Judeo-Christian values.

In the contemporary Western world, most people who identify with the Left — meaning the majority of people — hate war, corporations, pollution, Christian fundamentalists, economic inequality, tobacco and conservatives. But they rarely hate the greatest evils of their day, if by evil we are talking about the deliberate infliction of cruelty — mass murder, rape, torture, genocide and totalitarianism.

That is why communism, a way of life built on cruelty, attracted vast numbers of people on the Left and why, from the 1960s, it was unopposed by most others on the Left. Even most people calling themselves liberal, not leftist, hated anti-communism much more than they hated communism. When President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” liberals were outraged — just as they were when President George W. Bush called the regimes of North Korea, Iran and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq an “axis of evil.”

Ask leftists what they believe humanity must fight against, and they will likely respond global warming or some other ecological disaster (and perhaps American use of armed force as well).

In fact, the Left throughout the world generally has contempt for people who speak of good and evil. They are called Manichaeans, moral simpletons who see the world in black and white, never in shades of grey.

As the leading German weekly magazine, Der Spiegel, recently wrote: “Mr. Bush’s recent speeches have made no retreat from the good vs. evil view of the world that the Europeans hate.”

Patrice de Beer, an editor of the leading French newspaper, Le Monde, wrote that in the European Union: “The notion of the world divided between Good and Evil is perceived with dread.”

Entirely typical of the Left’s view of good and evil is this series of questions posed on the leftist website Counterpunch by Gary Leupp, professor of history and of comparative religion at Tufts University: “Questions for discussion. Was Attila good or evil to invade Gaul? Saddam good or evil to invade Kuwait? Hitler good or evil to invade Poland? Bush good or evil to invade Iraq? Are ‘good’ and ‘evil’ really adequate categories to evaluate contemporary and historical events?”

Western Europeans and their American counterparts loathe the language of good and evil and correctly attribute it to religious — i.e., Judeo-Christian — values. Among those values is fighting evil and “burning evil out from your midst.” And to do that, you have to first hate it. Because if you don’t hate evil, you won’t fight it, and good will lose.

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