By our readiness to allow evil to be called good…

by Karoli on April 12, 2010 · 23 comments

What moved some misguided wretch to do this horrible deed may never be known to us, but we do know that such acts are commonly stimulated by forces of hatred and malevolence, such as today, which are eating their way into the bloodstream of American life…What a price we pay for this fanaticism…If we really love this country; if we truly love justice and mercy; if we fervently want to make this nation better for those who are to follow us, we can at least abjure the hatred that consumes people, the false accusations that divide us; and the bitterness that begets violence.”

With those wise words from Chief Justice Earl Warren, John F. Kennedy was laid to rest.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not afraid another assassin’s bullet will fly. I am. As the days go by, that fear grows, and I’m left with an uneasy knot in the back of my neck that sometimes moves to the pit of my stomach. Admitting fear is a weakness. It gives power to those who want me to be afraid. Overcoming it emasculates them. Right? So I bite back what’s on the tip of my tongue, swallow the instinct to lash back at the ever-rising clamor of hate that seems to be everywhere there’s air or a wire. The knot tells me silence feels dishonest, enabling. Which is it? Silence as a way to deny them air to lie more? Or pointing a bright light on the cynical dishonesty these fearmongers bring to public discourse?

I indulge in self-talk often. Hope, not fear. Hope wins over fear; overcomes all. Compassion over hate; repay evil with good. Put faith in the power of prayer for safety and healing over this nation, expose lies wherever possible. Does it work? Sometimes. For at least a short time. History has little to offer in the way of comfort.

In November 1963, Dean Francis Sayre said this:

By our silence, by our inaction, by our willingness that heavy burdens be borne by one man alone; by our readiness to allow evil to be called good and good evil; by our continued toleration of ancient injustices…we have all had a part in [the assassination].

Allowing evil to be called good and good evil…

In 1963, hate was on the march. Anger on the left was rising in the form of the civil rights movement. Anger on the right was rising because of the civil rights movement, spiked with a deep paranoid fear of all things and people who might be communists, blended with a dose of the usual right-wing petulance about a President who was a Democrat and also had the nerve to be Catholic.

Literature like this was brewed by groups like the John Birch Society and posted in public venues to foment anger, fear and resentment. There were rallies. Big rallies, lots of rallies. Rallies with seething middle class fine upstanding white folks who would pay or donate what little they had to be told the black people — or the Mexicans or the farm workers or the people who didn’t look like them but mostly it was the black people — would take what little they had and turn the entire country on its head.

They seized hidden fears and anxieties of hard-working people, sieged sensiblities and fed their suspicions until those good people were twisted into tense cores of molten fire. Whether it was fear of coloreds or fear of commies didn’t matter. It was fear, a buzzing low-level anxiety that could be whipped into a full-throated mob attack with a few speeches and like-minded neighbors. They saw people who didn’t look like them — who were at one time considered 3/5ths of one of them but were now going to be accorded equal status — those colored folks, and they knew their piece of the American Dream would evaporate in the presence of such men. Or worse, folks who wanted to take their country away would come from far away and invade. Maybe they already had. Maybe they had lost their country already because of that Catholic liberal in the White House.

Commies or coloreds, take your pick. Fear grew and it grew and it grew until it sparked hot into righteous indignant anger and carried common sense away like a helium-filled balloon with no counterweight. How dare they! How dare he? Such were the stirrings of 1963.

Still, in 1963 a few sensible people spoke of sensible things, raising their voices above the din and the noise using their influence to call evil things evil. In 2010, it doesn’t seem that anyone will do the same.

In 1963, Republican Senator Kuchel stood up, pointed to the John Birch Society’s groundless accusations and stirrings-up and said this:

“…the curious fact is that the fright peddlers, from the simple simpletons to the wretched racists, all claim to be conservatives.”

Kuchel spoke out more than once. He refused to endorse Ronald Reagan because Reagan would not denounce the John Birch Society. He called for investigations into their activities, and was ultimately defeated in a primary for his third term by a more conservative Republican.

By today’s standards, Kuchel would be considered a liberal.

In 2010, what conservative will speak against outrageous charges such as these?

Regarding the omission of any reference to slavery while commemorating the Confederacy and Civil War: “To me, it’s a sort of feeling that it’s a nit. That it is not significant, that it’s not a – it’s trying to make a big deal out of something doesn’t amount to diddly.” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, 4/10/2010

Obama Is “The Most Radical President In American History” Newt Gingrich, April 8, 2010

“I said I had very serious concerns that Barack Obama had anti-American views, and now I look like Nostradamus,”Michele Bachmann, April 11, 2010

Every possession is a battle; you’ll only win the war if you’ve picked your battles wisely. No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD! – Sarah Palin, Facebook entry and SRLC speech 4/10/2010

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil. – Sarah Palin, August 7, 2009 (Facebook)

Because no single conservative has the moral courage to stand and say “this is wrong”, because political opportunism now trumps all measures of character, a bitterness is growing. A bitterness that might once again beget violence.

This was 1963:

This is 2010:

In 1963, Koch-driven societies like the John Birch Society were repudiated by the mainstream press and Republicans. In 2010, the John Birch Society is proudly featured as a co-sponsor of CPAC 2010.

In 1963, blacks were fighting for the right to vote without poll taxes, to be treated as equals with white people, to be granted their rightful place next to others without regard to skin color. In 2008, we elected a black person to the highest office in this land by a firm majority and with a mandate. In 2010, conservatives use mainstream press, the Internet, social media, and the streets as a way to stoke fear, and yes, loathing in those most prone. They use his color as a weapon and ridicule his intellect.

In dark, dusty corners of hearts filled with fear, a rage begins to stir. Who will calm it before it turns to fury? If none will speak, I’m afraid we’ll once again be a nation dressed in sackcloth and ashes, listening for the wisdom of another admonition buried in another eulogy, one that reminds of the consequence of allowing evil to be called good.

If there’s no courage to step up and call evil what it is, what good men and women will be motivated to serve? If no good men and women are motivated to serve, it seems to me we will truly have “lost our country”.

It worries me.

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  • stuartoneill

    My god. How beautifully written, how awfully envisioned as I have the same fears and memories.

  • stuartoneill

    My god. How beautifully written, how awfully envisioned as I have the same fears and memories.

  • So Sad

    Oh Stop the Melodramatic Rhetoric. Black Americans have been better served by the Conservative ideology than any other. You use the old tactic that the Republicans are afraid of the blacks. Therefore, Republicans are afraid of Obama. And it sells among your peers. You all agree with this and never look at the economic problems we are facing since Obama came into office. I would love to know where you were educated in economics. You have nothing. No answers so you lament…and cry…and shudder…and pretend that you are above all the fear mongering… while you write this drivel. Oh Stop. You stand up and call your side off. You take a basic economic course and understand why this country is in a precarious place financially. Then you will understand the concern of so many American loving citizens who underestand what the stakes are.
    But… I have a feeling you won't do that. No you will follow your Hippie Mother and Uncle's leads and follow their ideology you were spoon fed since birth.
    God help us with your ignorance and influence among the masses.
    Yuck!!!

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    The economic problems were in motion during and because of the Bush administration. You may choose not to believe that, but it's true. As for your characterization of me as melodramatic, well…history says otherwise. If history is a guide, odds of assassination are far higher than the odds there will not be one. You can bury your head in the sand, but it is fact.

    Also, it's totally ok not to read what I write if it offends you. I won't be bothered by that at all.

  • So Sad

    I read your stuff to get an understanding of the democratic, liberal, “progressive” thought process. Yes, the financial downturn was during Bush's watch. I agree and do not approve. Therefore, I really don't approve of the quadrupling the deficit and installing Obama's health reform under his presidency.
    Seems to me you're argument and any democrat's is “if Bush could run up a deficit, then it's a green light for us to run up the biggest deficit this or any country has ever faced. We are going to cause tremendous economic problems for years ahead, because after all, Bush started it so it's okay.” or some version of that idea. It plays well with those of your ideology. The icing on the cake for your side is to use the tired old arguments for anybody who doesn't like what's happening to the policies and economic forecasts … just say that any pushback or concern or disagreement is due to the fact that Obama is black. And focus on the violence of the past. Then apply the past's violence and racism to the current concerned American loving people and we have a winner. We can spend as much as we want and say the right racial remarks and continue on our merry way.
    Like I said, it plays well among the low educated, and emotional types on your side. Your ideology is driving our country into a very possible economic collapse. But you continue to parrot Obama's statements such as “A country as prosperous as America should pay it's citizens.” You believe that America will always generate revenue in abundance and that you just need to cry loud enough and long enough to ensure that it's funneled where you want it to go.
    We had a smaller version of this when Carter was President. Thankfully, those with a different ideology followed him and put the wheels back on the bus. This time, Obama seems intent on taking the wheels off and destroying them before another sound mechanic can step in and repair the damage.
    Here we go again…

  • NeoTanker

    A very thought provoking article Karoli. The funny thing is, as I read your words, in many parts I feel they are mine. We many things in common. Here is my attempt to give you my perspective… 9-11, the world is turning against our Lady Liberty. No longer is she the beacon of light in the world, and a symbol of hope and freedom. War, America's sons and daughters fighting an enemy for unsure purposes, creating more hatred towards our treasured land. 2007a congressman that goes by the name Ron Paul. A “Republican” that opposed the 2007 Republican President, dared to go against the grain of his party. Sound economics, audit the Fed, no more wars, smaller government. This was a song of true change, and the teaparty was born in our biggest state (TX). Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, and Conservatives alike began to to discuss how we the people could unite for our common interests to defeat our 2 party system and bring back liberty, unity, and light our ladies torch once again for the world to see our cultural wonder. What's this a new contender for great change? Obama? Look at what he is promising, wow! this is what America needs. 1 year, all promises broken and the ring of the media calling the teaparty that were trying to unite folks to stop corruption in politics, the called us racist, haters, violent, radicals etc. Many liberals shouting at that top of their lungs on twitter, facebook, ect spreading these lies about what people in the teaparty are trying to accomplish. The MEDIA fuels the fires, anger begets more anger. Radicals joins each side and blow it out of proportion. Racist start calling everyone racist. Wow! what happened? Is it to the advantage of those who wish to control us to keep us divided? Imagine what could of happened had you and I put aside our labels, joined forces for the good of country, booted out all the liers, and corrupt career politicians and took back control of our countries future heading towards the vision that our founding fathers had giving us. Now divided more than ever, I feel our fate is that of Greece, Russia, Germany, or any socialist country. Research shows socialism eventually collapses, the government can only grow so big before it implodes. Do we see if we can last longer than the others, or do we take back our destiny and do something no other country has done. Fight the path of socialism. Keep our free markets, keep our liberties, beat the government back into a controllable corner and let our kids have a chance at doing something great. If start another movement to accomplish these things the MEDIA and power hungry will only destroy it like they have the teaparty. This is a great opportunity in a unstable historic time, help us bring the truth of what the teaparty really is. Help us unite all Americans for a common cause, to band together and stop the growing monster in the Federal Government.

  • http://ashleighburroughs.blogspot.com Ashleigh Burroughs

    Once again, you''re spot on. We sit back and moan and groan to our friends who agree with us, and that's where it stops. It's time to stand up and take action. I've joined the Coffee Party movement (civil public political discourse is its mantra) and I've bloogged on it, but you are absolutely right to remind me that that is just not enough.
    a/b

  • Steve Shea

    I'm worried. My loving and generous aunt thinks our government is now socialist. My elementary school principal, the father of my best friend a quarter century ago, forwards long Glenn Beckish screeds to me. There is a troublesome disconnection, not only between actions and consequences (Bachmania, Factor-O, or perhaps Palindrome?), but also between what is seen and what is said. People who don't have a clear idea of a phenomenon (socialism, e.g.) see evidence for it everywhere. And they do this because they are told to, by people who will lose control of the outcome (thinking charitably, here).

    When somebody takes action based on the disconnection between reality and rhetoric, the consequences are often tragic, but somehow for the kool-aid drinkers, justifiable. “We didn't do anything wrong, and it's not our fault.” Reload. Ad infinitum, ad absurdum.

  • Steve Shea

    I'm worried. My loving and generous aunt thinks our government is now socialist. My elementary school principal, the father of my best friend a quarter century ago, forwards long Glenn Beckish screeds to me. There is a troublesome disconnection, not only between actions and consequences (Bachmania, Factor-O, or perhaps Palindrome?), but also between what is seen and what is said. People who don't have a clear idea of a phenomenon (socialism, e.g.) see evidence for it everywhere. And they do this because they are told to, by people who will lose control of the outcome (thinking charitably, here).

    When somebody takes action based on the disconnection between reality and rhetoric, the consequences are often tragic, but somehow for the kool-aid drinkers, justifiable. “We didn't do anything wrong, and it's not our fault.” Reload. Ad infinitum, ad absurdum.

  • blip

    I think the real argument here is not about whether Obama's a socialist or not. The point is that people who think he's a socialist simply refuse to engage in rational debate.

    I was voted against Bill Clinton twice. I voted for Bush, then Dole, then another Bush. But, I have to admit, I never imagined that the anti-Clinton rhetoric was anything but rhetoric…. until OKC happened. Rumors about Vince Foster, charges that Clinton was a treasonous pretender, that he was in league with narco-traffickers…. all those things that were percolating at party meetings and conservative gatherings…. I realized that there was more to it than mere rhetoric.

    I went from being quiet and complacent, and I started calling it out when I heard it. Because I knew that it created a climate where misguided, paranoid views seemed tolerable. And for some, this toleration was taken as consent. In those days, I did not want to be associated with people whose speech was calculated to induce panicked, agitated responses to a man, who, in retrospect, was proven to have been a moderate president, conservative by Democratic standards.

    I see the same thing happening with Obama. It's not that people who dislike Obama are racists…. it's that people who dislike Obama are willing to tolerate racists provided they frame their objections as hatred of Obama. It's that people are forever trying to characterize Obama's agenda as “the end of America.” It's all bombastic rhetoric.

    But you just don't see any rigorous attempt to push back against your own whackos. They have energy. They are willing to get out and work to “defeat” Obama. They will vote and send money. And instead of the Republicans pushing back against violent actions and rhetoric…. the GOP encourages it. Limbaugh declared, just the other day, that if a conservatives blow up another federal building…. It will be OBAMA and CLINTON's fault. He pledged, in other words, to defend any would be attackers, because blowing up buildings, evidently, is a reasonable response whenever Democrats make a good point about anything.

    What is sad, So Sad, is that you, and people like you, would rise to the defend people who make death threats, who engage in hysterical rhetoric, and who contribute to a general attitude that has proven to lead to violence time and time again.

    Karoli has provided many examples of current calls to violence…. and provided examples of the many historical precedents. You should either refute the argument directly…. or accept that this language is real and urge people to abandon.

    Turning a blind eye to it is unconscionable.

  • So Sad

    Hi Blip, just read your post. If you look back over my posts you will not see me defend anyone who has made death threats or engage in hysterical rhetoric. It's just not there. Secondly, I say to you what I said to Karoli. Stop these rants of accusation such as those who don't support Obama are racists. You tried to restate Karoli's words, but if you go back and read her blog, you will see that is exactly what she said. If you listen to the majority's opposition of Obama's policies, you will hear people discuss the economic results of the policies he and the Dems are putting into place. People are outraged because they understand the economic results that will come our way.
    If you want to talk about violence, you too must look at your own party. Wouldn't you agree there are “wackos” on both side who need to tamp it down? For instance, in Karoli's own community, during one of the first Tea Party gatherings, a man from the Democrats Bit The Finger Off of the Conservative Tea Party attendee after agistating the Tea Party Attendee. Then Karoli who was there, writes on this blog how the Tea Party Attendees were the violent agitators.
    She continue to do so in many of her blogs.
    I agree that speech and protests should not include violence. Why is it that when the conservatives are protesting, like the Democrats are notorious for doing over the years, we should stop them by implying that things just might get violent? The only violence reported at the Tea Parties so far are from the left anti protestors who show up to agitate? I think it would be more effective if your own side would call off your dogs, having the conservatives do it would only be fuel on their fire. What say you?

  • So Sad

    Blip, regarding Clinton as a moderate. Yes, because he did not have the democrats in Senate and House to vote for his policies. He was foreced to hold a more moderate line due to the fact that the votes just weren't there. Not so for Obama. Liberal President, liberal Senate, liberal house, and you have a liberal policy passing government.

  • icecreammang

    Phenomenal post. Wish more writers would contrast the Republican reaction in the '60s to John Birch Society nonsense with the current Republican fostering of (or at least being silent in the face of) such nonsense.

  • KingCranky

    No doubt about it, the Tim McVeigh/Usama bin Laden wing of the GOP now controls the party itself.

  • So Sad

    True to history, it's the left who riot with violence when protesting. Look at Arizona's protestors who oppose upholding the law…. The title of this blog definitely applies here.

  • so sad

    It appears the President of the United States is living your headline. He is determined to call right wrong and wrong right. While he is supporting the undoing of the law to protect the legal American Arizona citiizens, we aren't hearing about the desparate state of affairs in Chicago. Politicians are pleading to bring in the National Gaurd to protect it's citizen's. But we all know why Obama isn't saying anything about that situation. He's used to it. It's a product of his own policies and community organizing and especially because he isn't as desparate for their votes yet as he is for the Latino vote to stay in office in order to bring more economic and national security disasters to this wonderful country of ours. Karoli, where's your outrage? Why aren't you asking Nancy Pelosi to hold a press conference in tears to deried the swastika protestors in Arizona?

    Come back to this blog. Your voice is needed as never before to call off your progressive partners; to call an end to their madness before somebody gets hurt.

    I am sure you have something to say about this…..

    Will you blog for all of us to stop showing our own ID in our everyday life? Will you protest the outragous piece of legislation that will require us to show proof that we purchases health insurance as a citizen of this country? Come on Karoli, bring your voice of reason to this issue, your side is becoming more dangerous everyday. Just turn on the news.

  • so sad

    It appears the President of the United States is living your headline. He is determined to call right wrong and wrong right. While he is supporting the undoing of the law to protect the legal American Arizona citiizens, we aren't hearing about the desparate state of affairs in Chicago. Politicians are pleading to bring in the National Gaurd to protect it's citizen's. But we all know why Obama isn't saying anything about that situation. He's used to it. It's a product of his own policies and community organizing and especially because he isn't as desparate for their votes yet as he is for the Latino vote to stay in office in order to bring more economic and national security disasters to this wonderful country of ours. Karoli, where's your outrage? Why aren't you asking Nancy Pelosi to hold a press conference in tears to deried the swastika protestors in Arizona?

    Come back to this blog. Your voice is needed as never before to call off your progressive partners; to call an end to their madness before somebody gets hurt.

    I am sure you have something to say about this…..

    Will you blog for all of us to stop showing our own ID in our everyday life? Will you protest the outragous piece of legislation that will require us to show proof that we purchases health insurance as a citizen of this country? Come on Karoli, bring your voice of reason to this issue, your side is becoming more dangerous everyday. Just turn on the news.

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  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    SoSad, your wish is my command. http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/2010/04/28/on-imm

    I'm certain you won't like it until you will.

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    SoSad, your wish is my command. http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/2010/04/28/on-imm

    I'm certain you won't like it until you will.

  • blue_buddha

    You are so right. The country seems to be split to extremes with no group in the moderate middle. I share your fear of violence which, i am afraid, will tear this country apart. The radical right salivates to the voices of Beck, Limbaugh, Gingrich and the rest. As Pogo once said….”we has met the enemy, and it is us”.

  • blue_buddha

    You are so right. The country seems to be split to extremes with no group in the moderate middle. I share your fear of violence which, i am afraid, will tear this country apart. The radical right salivates to the voices of Beck, Limbaugh, Gingrich and the rest. As Pogo once said….”we has met the enemy, and it is us”.

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