Seeing ‘Evil’ Everywhere

Today’s American politics sees demons everywhere from “evil” foreign leaders to excessive fears about “terrorism” while more mundane threats like crumbling roads, loss of good-paying jobs and inadequate health care get short-shrift, misplaced priorities addressed by ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.

By Graham E. Fuller

It is depressing to witness the ongoing vitriolic voices of vituperation spewing out over the airwaves these days in what passes as “political debate,” especially in Republican circles. Depressing also to know that we still have nearly a year more to go of this same political circus of infotainment whose chief purpose really is to distract the public from the deeper, darker and more pressing issues that affect the nation and beg urgent discussion.

So history sometimes helps us put these things in a little perspective. A fine article from the New York Times a few days ago, “Anger: An American History”, provides some taste of the raucous history of prejudice, paranoia, fear and anger that seems perhaps always to have been part of the American political and social scene.

A drawing of the Salem "witch trials," with the central figure believed to be Mary Walcott.

A drawing of the Salem “witch trials,” with the central figure believed to be Mary Walcott.

It’s unsettling in one sense, you can’t help but wonder if there’s any progress to be perceived over several hundred years. But yet there is progress of a kind. And in another sense it reminds us that things right now are not uniquely bad, and that perhaps much of this simply has to do with the human condition.

And of course no country is without its prejudice, racism, paranoia, xenophobia and discrimination. Only somehow we expected our immigrant society to aspire more to the ideal of “The City on the Hill.”

At least it helps realize that this particular stage too will eventually pass, or give way to something else. And while American Muslims for many reasons now bear the particular brunt of such vituperation, the pithy old Turkish proverb provides perspective as well: it ürür kervan yürür , the dogs bark but the caravan moves on. 

Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official, author of numerous books on the Muslim World; his latest book is Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an American’s crisis of conscience in Pakistan.(Amazon, Kindle)

3 comments for “Seeing ‘Evil’ Everywhere

  1. Lusion
    December 22, 2015 at 07:30

    Here’s what the atheistic and non-superstitious Reform-Satanists from TST think of their hero:

    Satan was the first to ask for equal rights.
    He is symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds. Satan is an icon for the unbowed will of the unsilenced inquirer… the heretic who questions sacred laws and rejects all tyrannical impositions. Ours is the literary Satan best exemplified by Milton and the Romantic Satanists, from Blake to Shelley, to Anatole France.

  2. Erik
    December 22, 2015 at 07:19

    The control of mass media and election funding by right wing fearmongers, has allowed them to create foreign monsters, to pose as protectors and accuse their opponents of disloyalty, the means of right wing tyranny over democracy since Aristotle’s warning millennia ago. It is time for amendments to restrict funding of mass media and elections to limited and registered individual contributions.

  3. Abe
    December 21, 2015 at 17:13

    kervan yürür
    the caravan moves on

    “no one wants to associate their names with such evil events”
    — Ruslan Tsarni

    “Why was Satan created? Satan was created for important purposes.”
    — Fethullah Gülen

    “And now Russia is weighing in with significant new military presence in Syria, first and foremost to prevent the collapse of the Asad regime against its fundamentalist enemies. Moscow will now take on almost all opposition to Asad; as such it also strongly seeks to weaken ISIS, which it has greater reason to fear than does the US, given Russia’s large and restive Muslim population. But Washington doesn’t want to see Russia in Syria either, and would prefer to prevent any significant Russian presence in the area.

    “Other ‘allies’ on Syria include Turkey whose Syrian policies under Erdogan have gone off the rails, as Ankara is now more intent on checkmating the Kurds (even the broad-based moderate liberal Kurdish HDP party at home) than on checking radical jihadi forces in Syria. And then there is Saudi Arabia whose obsession to overthrow Asad and check Iran has driven it to exploit the scourge of ugly sectarianism in region to the detriment of nearly everyone.

    “[…] preserving the state structure, with or without Asad, is essential. Otherwise the rampant anarchy of a collapsed state looms.

    “So we end up back with the same old calculus: that the Asad regime is perhaps the least of all evils.”

    — Graham E. Fuller

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