Sunday, October 01, 2006


I don't believe evil exists.

Once you call something evil, you have admitted that you don't understand it.

The word Nazi is synonymous to evil for most.

Al-Qaeda are on the same level for many westerners.

Communists for many Indonesians.

Japanese soldiers (1930s-40s) for many Chinese.


The English establishment - many Irish during the 70s.

The list goes on.

When you label a group "evil" you believe they are pretty much motiveless in their wrongdoing and therefore unable to change. You don't believe they are fully human anymore. The response is often to wipe them out immediately rather than understanding their incentives and motives.

A response based on understanding may be more effective.

Fighting evil can justify almost anything. It's been used by autocrats down through the ages.

It hasn't fallen out of use however. ("Axis of evil" anyone?) Islamic terrorism and America are the world's ultimate evils nowadays, depending whose side you're on. People fear it. Politicians justify their increased power by it.


Germany I think has gotten to grips with its past better than most if not all other nations. Most Germans believe that Nazism was evil, I suspect most would profess not to understand it or fathom it.

Admittance of ignorance is at least an honest response, but then you hear of German politicians condemning far right politicians being elected, and ignoring them as if they are "evil". Shouldn't they rather ask themselves how desperate the electorate must be, how they are completely failing their electorate.

I've taught students in towns with high NDP (far right) support in East Germany. The students were some of the most generous people I have had the pleasure to meet. But people in those towns are in a desperate situation (1 in 3 unemployed -- with mass emigration from their towns). The usual politicians are letting them down, many of the most desperate have little other option but to vote for the far right.


The far right are not evil. Terrorists are not evil. Racists are not Evil. Religious fundamentalists are not evil.

They can be friendly, humorous, honourable and intelligent.

Many of their means and ends are not good. They are misguided. They need to be confronted. The arguments and battles still need to be won -- but we must understand them and treat them with the respect all humans deserve.

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