President Barack Obama made an eloquent appeal in Tucson yesterday for civility and communal healing following the horrific shooting in that city last Saturday. One of the more interesting things he said was the following:
” Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world and terrible things happen that defy human understanding”
It is notable that this is actually the second time, to my knowledge, that Obama during his presidency has used the word evil. The first was in the delivery of his Nobel acceptance speech in December, 2009. There he said:
‘” I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”
At the time I saw it as a signal of his recognition of certain realities in life and his willingness to identify the existence of absolute moral standards. Unfortunately the subsequent twelve months did little to buttress that belief.
His comments in Tuscon, which underscored an apparent belief that Jared Lee Loughner’s actions were the result of a manifest evil which had gripped the young man – and not only a consequence of mental illness, political extremism or social alienation, is evidence ( if thin) of a moral maturity that has noticeably lacking in this President. Too many in his own party and on the left are willing to see gray areas where the evidence suggests stark black and white distinctions. This is of course most relevant to the seething hatred poised against the United States from Islam and the Arabic world. We should never ignore that the evil which drove 19 young men to fly planes into the Twin Towers 10 years ago is of the same character which made Jared Loughner pull the trigger over and over again in Tucson on Saturday afternoon.
Lets hope this president indeed continues to face the world as it is and grasp that, as he states in his own words, ” evil really does exist in the world” and that he, of all people, cannot stand idle in the face of it.