The more common objection to "evildoers" was that it was, variously, simplistic, Manichean, imperialistic, cartoonish, etc.
"Perhaps without even realizing it,"
A few years later, as the memory of 9/11 faded and the animosity toward Bush grew, the criticism became more biting. But the substance was basically the same. Sophisticated people don't talk about "evil," save perhaps when it comes to America's legacy of racism, homophobia, capitalistic greed and the other usual targets of American self-loathing.
For most of the Obama years, talk of evil was largely banished from mainstream discourse. An attitude of "goodbye to all that" prevailed, as the war on terror was rhetorically and legally disassembled and the spare parts put toward building a law-enforcement operation. War was euphemized into "overseas contingency operations" and "kinetic military action." There was still bloodshed, but the language was often bloodless. Maj.
But sanitizing the language only works so long as people aren't paying too much attention. That's why the Islamic State is so inconvenient to those who hate the word "evil." Last week, after the group released a video showing American journalist
Although most people across the ideological spectrum see no problem with calling Islamic State evil, the change in rhetoric elicited a predictable knee-jerk response. Political scientist
No, it doesn't. But perhaps a reflexive and dogmatic fear of the word "evil" hinders thinking?
For instance, Boyle suggests that because the Islamic State controls lots of territory and is "administering social services," it "operates less like a revolutionary terrorist movement that wants to overturn the entire political order in the
Behold the clarity of thought that comes with jettisoning moralistic language! Never mind that the Islamic State says it seeks a global caliphate with its flag over the
There's a more fundamental question: Is it true? Is the Islamic State evil?
As a matter of objective moral fact, the answer seems obvious. But also under any more subjective version of multiculturalism, pluralism or moral relativism shy of nihilism, "evil" seems a pretty accurate description for an organization that is not only intolerant toward gays, Christians, atheists, moderate Muslims, Jews, women, et al. but also stones, beheads and enslaves them.
Who are you saving the word for if "evil" is too harsh for the Islamic State? More to the point, since when is telling the truth evidence you've stopped thinking?