As we probe into the nature of evil elsewhere in this issue of the Flyer, it seems appropriate to ask how we are doing in the current War Against the Evildoers.
Tempting as it is to venture a little irony at the repetitious use of the term "evildoers" by President Bush, the fact remains: If the international cabal that inflicted the horrific events of September 11th on America and on the world is not evil, then the term has no useful meaning.
No other term begins to describe the actions of the criminal elite of the Taliban, those moral monsters now on the run in Afghanistan, who beat women on the street for not covering themselves or for speaking out of turn or for laughing out loud. And who have shot women in the head in public arenas for doing scarcely more than that.
Likewise, it's hard to think of another adjective to apply to the likes of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi playboy turned predator who seems to have clearly been the financier and mastermind behind the plotted murder of innocent thousands at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
As of this writing, the news from Afghanistan is good: Bin Laden is reputedly confined to a diminishing area of mountainous country south of Kandahar and is constantly on the run. His Al Qaeda organization is in disarray, the Taliban are fighting among themselves, and Afghani citizens are organizing search parties in efforts to secure the $25 million reward offered by the U.S. government for bin Laden's capture or death.
Let others quibble about the viability of the word "terrorists" or worry aloud about America's policy misdeeds which may have contributed to the current state of affairs. Our policies have been and will continue to be imperfect. But our policies, flawed as some may have been, were carried out for political and economic reasons, not for the purpose of intentionally killing thousands of innocent, unsuspecting noncombatants. We know evil when we see it. And it's not a matter of ethnocentrism. We recognized evil 60 years ago in Germany, a nation that was culturally akin to our own, and we did what we had to to get rid of it.
In other words, as overused as the phrase may be, the president is justified in using the word "evil" to describe the actions of our enemies. As a people we do not have to embody the principle of Good to make war against Evil. There is nothing black and white about the present struggle. If we prevail, we will not become perfect creatures. But, imperfect as we are, we are nevertheless entitled to carry on the battle against the zealots whose sense of mission is best characterized by their pledge to see to our ultimate destruction.