Evil is a powerful word; a word we often use too lightly these days. Liberals call conservatives evil and conservatives call liberals evil. But liberals are not really, or usually, evil. They are just very misguided. And conservatives aren’t really, or usually, evil, either. They just believe in personal accountability and that government has little business beyond roads, public education, and national defense. So evil is far too strong a word to use in either instance.
For real evil- and a proper context in which to use the word - consider the below quotes. They appeared in a recent column of mine where I argued that we must finish the job in Iraq. If you read this and can still call a member of whichever side you’re against evil then rancor instead of reason rules your head.
“Pictures of dead Iraqis, with their necks slashed, their eyes gouged out and their genitals blackened, fill a bookshelf. Jail cells, with dried blood on the floor and rusted shackles bolted to the walls, line the corridors. And the screams of what could be imprisoned men in an underground detention center echo through air shafts and sewer pipes.” Jack Kelley, USA Today
“Between the men’s and women’s cells was a long mesh cage. Hamed said here, jailers pressed prisoners against the mesh and squeezed hot irons against their backs or threw scalding water on them in front of other inmates.” CBS News report
“To call all this a chamber of horrors is a cliché — and this place is beyond cliché. The hundreds or thousands that died here and were given no trial, no voice, cry out.” Bill Neely, BBC News
“Since the Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown in May, 270 mass graves have been reported. Some graves hold a few dozen bodies — their arms lashed together and the bullet holes in the backs of skulls testimony to their execution. Other graves go on for hundreds of meters, densely packed with thousands of bodies.” From USAID.gov
“They took my clothes off, laid me down on my back and dragged me by my legs across hot pavement until my back was a bloody mess. Then they made me roll in the sand. And just to make sure that the wounds got infected, I had to climb a 15-foot ladder and jump repeatedly into a pit of sewage water filled with blood and who knows what else. All because I wanted to stop playing soccer.” Haydar, Iraqi soccer player, as reported in the Miami Herald
“We’ve already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves,” Tony Blair, prime minister of Great Britain.
“I have seen interrogators break the heads of men with baseball bats, pour salt into wounds and rape wives in front of their husbands.” Ali Iyad Kareen (a former Iraqi soldier) as reported in USA Today by Jack Kelley.
“One of the president’s bodyguards brought 30 prisoners out - they were Kurds. The president himself shot them one after another with a Browning pistol. Another 30 prisoners were brought and the process was repeated. Saddam was laughing and obviously enjoying himself. There was blood everywhere.’” BBC News report
“Rows of white bundles containing the bones filled room after room. Families filed by, searching for signs of those who had disappeared, some stolen during the night, others taken in daylight. Even small children were not spared the butchery.” Andrew Natsios, administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
“These men were beaten with steel rods, had electrodes placed on their genitals, were hung from their arms until their shoulders were dislocated, were suspended by their ankles over the stone floor of a cell while their torturers whipped them with electric cables and pulverized their knuckles with wooden clubs.” As reported in Newsday
“There is an embarrassment of evidence here” against Saddam, said Barbara Comstock, a former Justice Department spokeswoman, adding that human rights groups around the world have documented the atrocities. “Saddam Hussein himself has left a trail, through videos, through pictures, of his atrocities.” Liza Porteus, Fox News
“I was not told the truth about Saddam. His portraits were all over the house. My parents told me he was a great man, a man who all Iraqis loved. They were scared to tell me how they really felt —how they despised him, how their hatred of him was so deep that my mother even now cannot bear to see his face on TV. But why were they so scared? I was only a child at the time. What harm could I possibly cause them if I knew the truth?
One day, in my nursery school, Saddam paid us a surprise visit, his mustachioed entourage surrounding him like flies around feces. He sat and beckoned one child to him at a time. It was my turn now. I walked over. He sat me on his knee and gave me a present. He asked me if I liked him. I said, ‘of course, I love you, you are the great leader.’ He then asked me what my parents thought of him, and I told him, ‘they love you too, they praise you whenever you appear on TV, and we have pictures of you all over the house.’ Next came my friend’s turn, with the same procedure. He sat on Saddam’s lap, and was asked, ‘What do your parents do when I appear on TV?’, and my friend said, ‘my father spits on the TV.’
I never saw my friend again. He was taken home, and the next day, along with his family and all his relatives, he disappeared.
Raeid Jewad, born in Iraq in 1977
Now that’s what I call evil…