And the Devil Laughed

the devil laughed - Israeli soldier with a baby carriage behind him and a Hamas soldier behind a baby carriage aim their weapons at each other

Let’s talk for a few minutes about Israel, Hamas, Iran, what happened on October 7, and how people have responded in the United States and around the world. Ever since that day, I’ve been jotting down and revising my thoughts. But I was in the middle of a concerted campaign at and elsewhere to inform and influence a local election. That absorbed all my available time for blogging, among other things. Election Day came two weeks late this year in Utah, but it’s over, and we won. You were probably busy too. Meanwhile, around the world, the devil laughed.

I just now deleted most of the words I’ve written and rewritten about that day and its continuing aftermath — 2,000 words, give or take. We don’t need them for two reasons. First, my essential thoughts here are quite simple.

I’ll be talking about evil — the evil of the original attack and the evil of celebrating it, then and now.

Then I will refer you to a wise, insightful, and urgently necessary speech I watched on YouTube last week. The speaker is Bari Weiss, a prominent American liberal, not a leftist; the difference is large and consequential. Though I am a conservative, and some of her politics and mine (on other subjects) don’t mesh, I beg you to watch it at least once. Then share it with others if you dare.

It is everything I wish I had time to write here and more; that’s the second reason we don’t need more of my words here. And perhaps Ms. Weiss, as a liberal, will reach readers who would tend to dismiss the same thoughts if they came from my mouth or pen, because so many of my stated views are conservative.

After that, I’ll suggest a second video.

Thank you in advance, mostly, for reading — and watching if you choose to, as I earnestly hope you will. This will not be unicorns and rainbows, and the only connection to Christmas, except geography, is a passing resemblance to Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents. (I am not aware that Herod’s soldiers raped and murdered the mothers.)

There’s Exactly One Word for It

The intentional, planned, gleeful slaughter of babies, besides being genocidal, is evil.

The rape of women is evil. So is their murder — and celebrating either is both evil and wholly barbaric.

(If your cause had any legitimacy before you did — or celebrated — such things, that legitimacy did not survive the rapes and murders. You think you’re oppressed? I might have cared before. I don’t anymore. Oppressed peoples throughout history have found effective ways to rise up without joyfully raping and slaughtering women and children.)

If we see the slaughter and rape of women and children and excuse them or contextualize or plead complexity or call for a balanced view . . .

(Many things are complex; almost everything about the Middle East is complex. Raping and slaughtering women and children are evil, not complex.)

If we cannot see evil and recognize it as evil . . .

If we cannot bring ourselves to call it evil when we recognize it . . .

If we hurry to assert moral equivalency between the evil people who shield terrorist headquarters with hospitals and schools and the nation which fights back against them . . .

If, to serve our immediate political ends, we refuse to believe the declared aim of evil regimes and the terrorist groups they support — to kill Jews — even when we see the largest Jewish body count since the Holocaust . . .

If we excuse, defend, or celebrate evil . . .

We are evil.

We’re Also Human; We’re All So Human

I understand the urge to recoil from the horror and bury ourselves in a book or television show about something else, in the exploits of an athletic team, in the artistry of a pop singer or great composer, in the expressive eyes and ready laugh of a child. But the butchers murdered about 1,200 people that day. Each victim was someone’s child, and some were babies whose eyes can be seen and whose laughter can be heard now only in memory — and there only if the people who knew them can fight through their awareness of that day’s savagery to earlier memories of happier things. I’m not saying we should deny ourselves everything that infuses joy into our lives. But if we persistently close our eyes and refuse to see evil (because what decent human wants to see evil?) . . .

If we cower behind complexity and timidly temper our talking points, instead of standing up and calling evil what it is, or if we finally choose terrified silence on the subject . . .

We are abetting evil. How much can we do that and not be evil ourselves? Perhaps we already are. Not irredeemably evil — says my faith — but evil.

We’re Funding Both Sides, and That’s Evil

Here’s one more thought we should consider, with respect to both the Israel-Hamas-Iran conflict and the Russia-Ukraine war. War may be necessary and justified, but a nation which intentionally funds both sides of a war, prolonging it to enrich its weapons industries or manipulate its own politics or because some parts of the government (or people) prefer to support the aggressor — the nation which funds both sides, while people die on both sides and wealth, culture, and civilization (however filled with human flaws) turn to rubble . . .

That nation — our nation — is guilty of great evil. Make no mistake: indirectly and to an astonishing degree directly, we, the United States, are funding both sides of these wars.

God help us, I want to say. But then I have to ask, why would he?

Bari Weiss

As I said, nearly everything I wish I could say at this moment and have wanted to write for weeks, I heard in a speech the other day by Bari Weiss. She is one of those genuine, intelligent, articulate liberals who didn’t drink the Leftist Flavor Aid. I’ve enjoyed reading her thoughts for a few years now. Here she says some things better than I could — and with charm, not just candor.

Watch the speech. Watch it again. Please. And we don’t have to be so grim here than we cannot enjoy, as she does, the delightfully odd, applause-laden juxtaposition of Bari Weiss and The Federalist Society.

Among other things, you’ll hear her say (at about 13:00), “When anti-Semitism moves from the shameful fringe into the public square, it is not about Jews. It is never about Jews. . . . Anti-Semitism is a warning system. It is a sign that the society itself is breaking down, that it is dying. It is a symptom of a much deeper crisis.”

Ben Shapiro

Next, whatever you think of Ben Shapiro — my capacity to endure him is limited — please watch his whirlwind review of thousands of years of Jewish/Israelite/Israeli history. Fair warning: he undermines the dominant narrative at several key points, as reality so often does. This video is a couple of years old, but so is the narrative.

When you’ve absorbed both videos, even once each, you’ve done more to understand these issues than most people. You know more history and have a clearer view of events and their implications than most of the activists who style themselves journalists, most of those anti-Semitic college students, and most of the mob which attacks stores and restaurants for being owned by Jews.

That’s immensely important. But if it doesn’t feel like enough — it probably isn’t — here are three more things we can do, before we decide what else to do.

The Next Three Things to Do

First, we can remember that when Leftists and their Extreme Right alter egos chant about a worldwide Intifada, they advocate killing Jews around the world. When they echo the old slogan, “From the river to the sea,” they advocate the erasure of the nation of Israel, which stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and the exile or extermination of its Jewish population. When they talk about ending the occupation, they likely mean ending the presence of Jews in that whole region — because until Israel fought back, beginning a few weeks ago, Gaza had not been an occupied territory for a decade and a half. It was independent and self-governing (though closely tied to Iran).

It’s likely that many protestors don’t know all this. I suspect they often grab whatever slogan is nearest at hand as a pretext for this week’s nihilism and violence. But words still mean things for most of us; the Left’s triumph in our culture isn’t universal yet.

Second, if we haven’t already, we can learn to recognize the playbook. If you’re committing war crimes, you need to be out there accusing the other side of war crimes. If you’re advocating and perpetrating genocide, you and your many partisans and eager apologists in government, media, and the academy must loudly and relentlessly accuse the other side of genocide.

We’ve seen this before. If your object is to turn your racism into power, call yourself antiracist and accuse the other side of racism. If your program is to corrupt, dismantle, and replace American democracy and the rule of law, indict the opposition for similar motives and misdeeds. And so on.

Third, as grisly and upsetting as reality is, as usual, today let’s all try to be a a little less distracted than we were yesterday by the seductive swirl of smaller things — from the breathtakingly petty squabbles in our politics to the unimaginable seductions of our streaming services and social media platforms, from our extravagant Christmas shopping to the opulent grandeur of our football stadiums. Like intelligence agencies, the Justice Department, the Department of Defense, and the US Women’s National Soccer Team, when we citizens get distracted, things we must do don’t get done.

Then What?

What to do after these three additional things, I don’t know even for myself, let alone for you. But keeping all these things in our minds has to help us figure that out. Meanwhile, I think I’ll ponder these lines for a minute:

“Cain rose up against his brother Abel and slew him. And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free” (Moses 5:32-33).

And the devil laughed” (Pierce Bysshe Shelley, “On the Devil, and Devils”).

“Satan . . . had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced” (Moses 7:26).

And because neither the earth nor the universe nor the day are all darkness: “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).

About the image: I’ve looked for the original source but haven’t found it. This meme is widespread.

I allowed myself a minor revision on 8 December 2023, for clarity and because I can. — DR

David Rodeback - impeachment

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