Most of us are fully aware of this fact. We see it every day when we turn on our televisions or browse our favorite news sites on our electronic devices.
When an individual or group commits an atrocity against another party, we see evil in action. We see it when a terrorist detonates a bomb at a concert full of innocent children. It’s present when we hear of yet another mass shooting at a school or church.
But when it comes to the nature of evil, people tend to have different views. Some attribute the misdeeds of evil people to the individual carrying them out. Others view the perpetrators as victims who were pushed to commit a malevolent act by an external motivator.
Looking at culture, it is predominantly people on the left who are averse to labeling a person as evil. Of course, this statement isn’t all-encompassing; there are likely plenty of leftists who understand that people are capable of horrible things. However, the bulk of the left’s political ideology is informed by the notion that people act badly primarily because of influences outside of their control; and this is one of the reasons why so many of their proposed policies are dangerous.
The Left’s Reluctance To Address Evil
To see how the left’s attitude towards the notion of evil plays out in our culture, one only has to pay attention to the arguments they make when confronted with an example of evil behavior. It is evident in their explanations for why the person committed the act.
After news breaks about a mass shooting, it only takes hours for prominent leftists to speak out against guns. They shy away from discussing the fact that the gunman was an evil person. There is no mention of the issues in our culture that could produce an individual who could commit such a horrific act. We don’t hear much discussion of our nation’s flawed approach to mental health.
Instead, they paint the incident as another reason why the government needs to pass stricter gun laws that prohibit law-abiding Americans from obtaining the means to defend themselves. Some on the left have advocated for a gun-free society — as if making firearms illegal would have any impact on criminals who often obtain their weapons illegally. Put simply; they believe mass shootings happen because guns are legal — not because we have a problem with evil people in our society.
The left takes a similar approach when a radical Islamic terrorist commits a murderous act. They are quick to point out that these individuals do not represent all of Islam — as if anyone was implying that in the first place. Moreover, they all but exonerate jihadists, claiming that these individuals commit terrorist acts because of U.S. foreign policy, or the fact that they live in poverty. They excoriate conservatives who give valid criticisms of Islamic society. They are more concerned with combating “Islamophobia” than terrorism.
What it all boils down to is a hesitancy to blame the individual for their actions. Instead, they analyze the external forces that supposedly inspired the individual to act. The blame will ultimately reside with society, laws, bigotry, or some other factor that has nothing to do with the character of the individual.
So, why does the left view evil in this way?
The Rise Of Hypocritical Tolerance
The rise of a new type of moral relativism is one of the reasons for the left’s approach to the notion of evil. The theory of moral relativism posits that moral values are inherently equal. The values that one culture holds cannot be judged as greater than those of another culture.
Many have taken the theory of relativism to its logical conclusion: believing that there is no objective truth. It means people’s choices aren’t inherently right or wrong, they just are. Advocates of this philosophy espouse the self-defeating argument that there is no absolute truth except for the absolute truth that there is no absolute truth.
For this reason, they can accept the notion that women live in societies in which they are oppressed; it’s just a part of their culture. They can criticize corrupt police officers while ignoring black-on-black crime. After all, blacks only commit homicides because of racism, right?
The idea of tolerance — when taken to its extreme — creates a culture in which nobody is allowed to criticize someone of another culture or belief system. Of course, this rule does not apply to certain people. Hypocrisy has become an unfortunate byproduct of extreme tolerance. Indeed, it causes the individual to practice acceptance of other cultures, but they do not take this approach to those who do not believe as they do. Instead, they practice a form of selective tolerance — they accept certain cultures and lifestyles while shunning those who may not believe in the left’s form of tolerance.
The left loudly rebukes Christian bakers who don’t cater gay weddings but remains silent on Islamic societies that execute homosexuals. They call out alleged misogyny in American society but have little to say about the genital mutilation, domestic violence, and rapes endured by women in other countries. They excoriate police officers who overstep their boundaries, but won’t address high murder rates among blacks. Instead of taking an honest look at the reasons for the evils people experience, they seek to avoid the issue altogether.
What Does It All Mean?
The nature of evil is one of the most significant differences in the thinking of conservatives and leftists. Both camps approach this issue in different ways — and the policies individuals support are largely influenced by their opinions on whether people are naturally good, or naturally flawed.
The reality is that every human being has the capacity for evil. Sure, we’re not all Hitler, but we still engage in negative behaviors. External motivations for evil acts certainly do exist — and we should do what is necessary to combat them. But we are ultimately responsible for our own behavior, which is why we must resist the temptation to ascribe an individual’s actions to external scapegoats.