President Bush delivered a long-awaited speech on his plan to stem the genocide in Darfur. During three years of international hand-wringing, hundreds of thousands had died and millions had been displaced in waves of violence that showed no signs of abating. The hope was that this speech would be a beginning to the end of the suffering.
No stranger to dramatic symbols, Bush chose to appear at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., during a weeklong observation of Holocaust Remembrance. Several survivors attended, including Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, and Bush addressed them directly: 'You who have survived evil know that the only way to defeat it is to look it in the face and not back down.'
Then came the call to action: 'It is evil we are now seeing in Sudan--and we're not going to back down.'
As Bush began to outline his plan for Darfur, however, what began as a battle cry quickly turned into just another hollow threat.
Stay with me now, and read this excerpt from a SPLC article about Turkey's attempts to , lobby against official recognition of the Armenian genocide.
"The overwhelming opinion of scholars who study genocide — hundreds of independent scholars, who have no affiliations with governments, and whose work spans many countries and nationalities and the course of decades — is consistent," the International Association of Genocide Scholars stated in a 2005 letter to the Turkish government.
"The scholarly evidence reveals the following: On April 24, 1915, under cover of World War I, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic genocide of its Armenian citizens — an unarmed Christian minority population. More than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches. The rest of the Armenian population fled into permanent exile. Thus an ancient civilization was expunged from its homeland of 2,500 years."
Despite this clear consensus of experts, Turkey exerts political leverage and spends millions of dollars in the United States to obfuscate the Armenian genocide, with alarming success even at the highest levels of government. Lobbyists on the Turkish payroll stymied a Congressional resolution commemorating the genocide last fall by convincing lawmakers to reverse their stated positions. Even President Bush flip-flopped [having campaigned in 2000 to push for official recognition of the Armenian genocide].
"The last thing Congress should be doing is deciding the history of an empire [the Ottoman empire] that doesn't even exist any more," said President Bush.
Why is that the "last thing" Congress should be doing? I thought the "last thing" Congress should ever do is get rolled by a radical Administration who appropriates lies from a chronic Iraqi fraudster (now a fast food frycook in Europe) in order to create a pretext for a trillion dollar war of choice. But you'll have to forgive me, I'm sorta liberal that way.
Anyway, back to "evil". We must confront it.
Conservatives complain that liberals don't have a firm grasp on "evil", and therefore don't recognize it, and don't confront it. Therefore, shouldn't they want us to get a handle on the history of evil, if we are to understand it better?
Recently, K Lo from the Cornah cited Bobby Jindal's essay on "Spiritual Warfare" (and exorcism) as evidence of his recognition of evil. Apparently a "recognition of evil" combined with deep faith is enough to get one's moral compass stamped with a Good Warmaking Seal of Approval.
So Jindal, like Bush, recognizes the reality of evil. Ok. Back to the SPLC article:
While Turkish officials made threats, lobbyists paid by Turkey delivered money to congressmen in the form of campaign and political action committee donations. Louisiana representative Bobby Jindal (a Republican who's now Louisiana's governor) and Mississippi representative Roger Wicker (now a Republican senator representing that state) both dropped their sponsorship of the resolution and began speaking against it — but only after receiving around $20,000 each from former congressmen Bob Livingston, a Republican, and Richard Gephardt, a Democrat, who now work for lobbying firms contracted by Turkey to oppose any recognition of the Armenian genocide.
Bam. Swirl that around in your mouth for a bit.
I know that flip-flopping on legislative pay raises maddens the electorate like nothing else, but isn't flip-flopping on genocide bad too? (And yes, I see that Gephardt is also mentioned-- however, I'm not the one saying Gephardt "understands the reality of evil" because... he saw Malachai in a corn field when he was a young man, or some such nonsense.)
So, with all that information in mind, I'm going to get a bit wicked and link to a horrible episode involving a man who beat a "possessed" toddler to death.
Now, did that man also correctly perceive evil? Did he just wildly overreact? Did he in fact kill a demon-possessed child? How are we to know? (Make it a hypothetical if you need to. Add or subtract some details. I'm just trying to use an extreme example to make a point.) Most would say "of course not". But why? How are we to know for sure? Isn't it a possibility, for those who believe in demonic possession? Granted, the man waged "spiritual warfare" in a hideous and criminal manner, but did he correctly perceive evil in the toddler, as Jindal perceived an evil demon in his friend Susan?
Also, it's becoming clear that Jindal has done a fair amount of religious writing describing the various times in his youth when his female friends helped him deepen his faith in Catholic God. Everyone knows about Susan and the demon (btw, what is Jindal's former best friend up to these days?). But this surprisingly informative Details profile of Jindal introduces us to "Kathy", as well:
When Bobby Jindal was 12, a Southern Baptist friend named Kent gave him a paperback Bible for Christmas.
The Bible went into a closet [unread], and might have remained there had Jindal not sneaked away with a girl from a high-school dance at a Baton Rouge hotel.
Jindal and the girl, Kathy, slipped off to the rooftop and talked about their futures. She aimed to be a Supreme Court justice, she told him, so that she could stop people from “killing babies.” Her passion astonished Jindal. “While she could not reply to any one of my arguments for abortion,” he later wrote, “I could not help but be amazed by her genuine compassion and innocence. . . . Kathy’s sincere convictions showed me an aspect of Christianity I had never encountered before.”
Thus began Jindal’s conversion to Catholicism, an epic process into which he funneled all his trademark energies, intellectual and otherwise.
According to K-Lo, Jindal's account of Susan's demonic possession demonstrates his recognition of the reality of evil in the world. And according to the Details piece, Jindal's eventual conversion to Catholicism was prompted by Kathy's "sincere convictions".
Lord knows that my teenage interactions with girls (when they occurred) were not free of embarrassment. But it's interesting how freely Jindal describes these episodes in publications.
I'm starting to think Megan and Moe's dialogue about Bobby and Susan the Possessed is not just deliciously funny, but very close to the truth of the matter.