Reasoning with Evil

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Many decades ago I read an account of the Charles Manson murders that included the horrifying revelation that of all the people in Sharon Tate’s home that night, only one, Wojciech Frykowski, fought for his life. Mr. Frykowski had witnessed the tender mercies of the Nazis in his native Poland and was able to recognize evil when he saw it. All the rest tried to reason with their murderers, with poor Sharon Tate repeatedly saying, “Can’t we talk about this?” even after she had already been stabbed in her almost nine-months pregnant belly. Too many rational people are unable to recognize irrational evil when they see it, and they die as a result.

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Sharon Tate Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

I thought about this as I watched President Trump’s speech to the UN. Unlike Barack Hussein Obama, who appeared to enjoy blaming America, Christianity, and Western civilization generally for all the troubles of the world, there was no wringing of hands, no apologizing for actions past or present, and no smarmy, we’re-all-in-this-together conciliation by Donald Trump. Instead there were plain, blunt promises to protect and support America and her allies, and the plain, blunt naming of names of bad actors. (Sometimes plainer than one might hope for from a United States president, but I’ll take plain courage and plain belief in America over articulate apologies and eloquent conciliation any day.) North Korea, Iran, and Syria are not our friends, and there was no attempt to pretend they were. Socialist dictatorships like Venezuela, and communist dictatorships like Cuba, have never given a damn about their citizens, with the predictable results of extreme poverty, privation and abuse. Donald Trump made no attempt to say anything nice about any of those regimes. It was, as Benjamin Netanyahu said, “…the boldest and most courageous speech I’ve ever heard at the UN,” and Mr. Netanyahu, unlike our previous president, is a man who knows a little about courage and boldness. Unfortunately, the mainstream media that has banded together to portray President Trump as dangerous and unfit for his position, also seems shocked and horrified by courage and boldness. The criticism has run a wide gamut, from Hilary Clinton’s “dark and dangerous” comment, to more measured analyses by people who (on the surface, at least) understood what the president was saying, but rejected either the language or some parts of the message.

But it was the mainstream media’s reaction that really went over the top.

In particular, Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC, went out of his way to portray Donald Trump as “mentally unstable” by comparing him unfavorably to President Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. Mr. O’Donnell chose to carefully ignore, or is more likely ignorant of, the facts that:

1] John F. Kennedy was a dangerously compulsive serial womanizer (that would disqualify him today as mentally unstable) who

2] was having an affair at that time with Mary Meyer (that would also disqualify him today) who

3] introduced him to LSD (think that might disqualify him today as mentally unstable?) and—most importantly—that

4] despite O’Donnell’s insistence that Adlai Stevenson’s speech at the UN is what caused the Soviets to back down, the truth is Kennedy had a secret direct line to Khrushchev (OMG! Throw that man in prison for collusion!) and it was their direct, private communication that resolved the crisis, not anything anyone said at the UN.

Winston Churchill, who experienced some of the horrors of war, was roundly condemned and vilified by the House of Commons for his bellicose attitude toward rearming Great Britain prior to World War Two, and for opposing Neville Chamberlain’s groveling appeasement of Hitler. God knows Trump is no Winston Churchill, but like Churchill, and like poor Wojciech Frykowski, Trump seems to be able to recognize evil for what it is when he sees it, and like both of them, he knows better than to waste time trying to sweet-talk or appease people who only want to kill.

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