Lately we’ve been hearing more and more about racially charged events following the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville Virginia on August 11th and 12. Many predominate politicians such as Senator Bernie Sanders who posted on twitter calling the rally ” a display of racism and hatred”, while Senator Corey Gardener urged President Trump to ” call evil by its name” and labeled the rally as an act of “domestic terrorism”. During this time many Americans are rightfully brimming with rage over a blatant display of racism, violence, and hate. While we as a nation are still deeply divided over the issue of who exactly counts as human, we must also be reminded about who exactly counts as crazy.
There is a innate need in the human psyche to classify things and wonder why people are the way they are. We see things as we are, so when we hear about evil dictators or serial killers, we don’t wonder How could anyone do that? We really think I could never do that! We naturally believe that all humans assume the same beliefs, values, and moral standing as we do, because of this we are baffled to know there are those who think differently.
We all believe that people naturally have a heart to do good things. We all strive to be less self-absorbed, materialistic. jealous, and unkind. We want to do good even though we so enjoy doing what is wrong. We can’t imagine anyone who enjoys doing bad, even terrible things, especially when it comes at the expense of other people’s feelings or personal safety. The thought of truly evil people in the world is so frightening, and mind boggling that we only have one option of belief: they are not mentally capable of comprehending human morality aka, they must be crazy. Here’s what’s wrong with this belief:
Crazy People Cannot be Held Accountable For Their Actions
Of course not, they’re crazy. That’s why lawyers tell you to plea insanity in trail. When you are calling someone crazy, you are not calling them, morally reprehensible. despicable, or malicious; you are saying that by virtue of his/her mental status, you cannot be held responsible for what you do. In other words, it’s not really your fault. Here’s the thing though: evil people know exactly what they’re doing, who they’re hurting, who will be affected, and how much it will kill them. They choose to do it anyway.
For example, Crazy Billy hears a voice that tells him to put his infant in the oven and let his little daughter burn. Yes, crazy Billy, if he is strong enough and trained and properly medicated can fight to ignore or maybe surpress the voice telling him to do something so horrible, but it’s still an uphill battle (I’m using the word crazy in the context of severe mental illness and for context, please do not see this as an offense against mentally ill people). However, a parent who hates their infant because the unexpected pregnancy ruined his/her life would be evil for choosing to depose of the child by putting it in the oven to burn. No one is excused from wrong behavior, but the mentally insane have a legitimate psychological and neurological issue that has severely distorted their sense of good and evil. Evil people have no such issues and are in full control of their mind, body and actions when they make harmful choices that hurt others. They choose their own actions knowing exactly what the detrimental consequences will be. No excuses.
We Take Crazy Too Lightly
We all know at least one person who is “soooo crazy”. We tell them how crazy we are every time we see them. We let them know their ideas, opinions, or preferences are so over the top or bizarre, that they are crazy. We also know generally horrible, and mean-spirited people in the world. We don’t really call them out too often. We are much more comfortable calling people out on their crazy than their evil. It’s a simple perspective game. We see crazy people as good natured loons with a few cracks and a couple of outlandish ideas, but generally speaking, harmless and annoying at most. When we picture evil we picture something hideous, like Voldemort, or a deadly snake, or Godzilla. The fact that real life people are capable of heinous crimes and deep deception is beyond the belief of most people in the world. They cannot wrap their head around a person being so terribly wicked that evil becomes a word we only use in synonymous with non-humans. We weaken the connection between evil and man because its so uncomfortable. Crazy just fits nicer.
We Ourselves Believe the Same Thing
No one wants to believe that they share any beliefs remotely close to Neo-Nazis, besides other Neo-Nazis and Donald Trump. When it comes to evil people, we call them so to distance ourselves from having any connection to people who are destructive, deceitful, and manipulative. We define evil as really, really really bad. There’s just one (ok, several) problems with that definition: we would all qualify. We all have done really bad things. We all have also done really, really, really bad things. Yes, evil people have taken “bad things” to an unnaturally hateful level, but in actuality their actions and intentions aren’t far from our own, just with more bitterness and ego behind them.
No, most people don’t identify themselves as part of the KKK or any White nationalist groups, but given the history (and present state) of our country, many people carry in themselves a narrow view of any “non-white” people. This internal racism might not be displayed through tiki touches, violent rallies, or meaningless chants(such as “Jews will not replace us”) but that doesn’t mean you don’t share the same mindset. Racist jokes, broad stereotypes, cultural appropriation, and racial micro- aggressions are all branches from the same racist tree. Evil is scary because it lives in all of us, some are just more ashamed than others,