The world was stunned by the violent tragedy in Arizona that left a judge, a nine-year-old child, and other innocent bystanders dead and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded. All decent human beings mourn the heinous action that felled so many wonderful people and touches the lives of so many others. Sadly, some in the mainstream media, and liberal pundits on the cable television channels, are using this sad event to score political points, blaming the highest profile targets from the right. The Washington Post wondered if “political discourse has taken a dangerous turn.” Even the international media is weighing in, with the British newpaper, The Guardian, blaming “rightwing rhetoric.”
In a pseudo-sophisticated culture that is put off by the notion of the existence of evil, commentators have to go on a witch hunt to find someone to blame when the human capacity to replicate Cain’s murderous behavior becomes glaringly obvious. In many respects, the “blame game” and “witch hunts” are to be expected because, as a culture, liberal elites have fostered the idea that evil does not erupt out of the heart of man but exists purely as a consequence of bad social structures supported by wrong thinking conservatives.
Apparently, it’s okay to go on a “witch hunt,” but it is not okay to believe in evil and evil-doers. The concept of evil is just too, too outdated and passé, just too much of a throwback to the old-time religion. However, from what we know at this time about the young man who witnesses say fired the bullets, politics — whether right-wing or left-fringe — had nothing to do with inciting or enabling the shootings. Instead, we see a very troubled young man who definitely did not identify with the political right. He appeared to have some leftist political views, but not in any way that seems associated with, or strong enough to motivate, this crime.
Instead, we see a horrific example of the power of evil to corrupt the hearts and minds of human beings; we see evil and its disastrous consequences.
In a recent RedState memo, Erick Erickson presents a compelling argument against the media’s even speculating that the shooter was incited to action by the political right. He noted that a friend of the shooter described him as decidedly “left-wing” as recently as 2007. Then, to make his point that the language being identified as “right-wing extremism” is common lingo used by people in both parties, Erick gave a bipartisan sample of recent rhetoric and actions that could be identified as “inciting” violence:
•[The media] will also bring up, as they did yesterday, Sarah Palin putting Gabrielle Giffords on her target list for defeat with a rifle scope symbol over her district. Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, the largest left-wing community online, put Gabrielle Giffords, by all accounts a Blue Dog Democrat, on a target list with a bullseye. Just as Sarah Palin removed her post, Markos has removed his.
•Another Daily Kos writer, just the other day, penned a post saying Congresswoman Giffords was dead to him.
•On YouTube, [the shooter] flagged as a favorite video one of a person dressed as a terrorist burning the American flag. Only a lunatic or a leftist would do that.
•[The shooter’s] favorite work was not a Glenn Beck book, but a staple of every left-wing bookshelf, the Communist Manifesto. In the Communist Manifesto, there are numerous, frequent calls for violence against the bourgeoisies.
•Left-wing cartoonist Ted Rall’s most recent book calls for a violent response from the left against the right.
•Barack Obama himself told left-wing activists, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”
Equally important, Erick Erickson pointed out that the media, by using words to describe the right that they believe incite violence, are creating a situation that endangers those holding conservative views. Erickson also noted — using the evidence presented in media reports — there is no way that the shooter identified with the political right.
So, if the young man accused of the shooting is “not of the tea party movement, not a Dittohead, not led by Sarah Palin,” or a hater of Barack Obama, what prompted his attack on innocent people? Acquaintances are coming forward to tell about situations where the young man was “disruptive” and “seemed deranged.” Gradually, truth will emerge; obviously, he is a seriously disturbed young man who planned and executed a very evil act.
My friend, Michael L. Peterson, a philosophy professor at Asbury University, is considered one of America’s foremost authorities on the problem of evil, which he identifies as the “one of the most serious philosophical challenges to the Christian faith.” He notes that many theologians and philosophers avoid or evade “this agonizing problem” in the “vast body of scholarship” on the subject. Others obfuscate the problem, in the hopes that it will go away. As is illustrated in this latest horrific shooting, the problem is not going away. Philosophers and theologians discuss the idea of the “concrete problems of evil” and the theory that there must be “practical adjustments to evil.”
I would suggest that one of the first “practical adjustments” that we must make in this modern, scary world of random mass shootings, is first to acknowledge that evil exists. Second, it is past time for the American people to once again understand — as did our pioneer forbearers — that we must take personal responsibility for recognizing threats posed by those people who are the embodiment of evil. We should neither panic, nor passively stand aside waiting for deliverance but act worthy of the sacrifices of America’s heroes, most recently the firefighters on 9/11 and the passengers of UA Flight 73, who have battled evil to enable our freedom to continue. Americans can take justifiable pride in the noble history we have of actively combating evil when it manifests itself, whether at home or abroad.