It turns out that Islamic terrorists are not evil after all, only wicked.
(Page 2 of 2)
Instead, Eagleton resorts to fiction where he finds pure evil in characters in Othello, Macbeth, and Graham Greene.
I thought philosopher Colin McGinn, quoted at some length in the book, had the concept pinned down rather well by identifying two kinds of evil: that with a purpose, and the purposeless primitive evil “which is purely unmotivated and which admits to no further explanation.” Eagleton is talking mainly about the latter, calling on Freud’s “death drive” to back him up.
Sub-themes come and go in this discursive narrative. He dismisses the current vogue for atheism by launching a jive at the two superstars of the God debate. He is no biologist and no theologian, he says, but he can tell when “someone like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens is talking out of the back of his neck.”
And his Marxist sympathies emerge in a somewhat tortured passage on the evils of capitalism. Good can come from evil, and usually does, he asserts. Even Marx wondered if there could ever be socialism without the capitalist achievements of the past. Capitalism is a necessary evil, he believes, that “develops the wealth of society to the point where socialism can take it over and reorganize it in the interests of everyone.”
Eagleton has an academic’s commitment to the meaning of words, and much of his argumentation consists of putting boundaries around loosely used terms. Terrorism is “wicked rather than evil,” he finally declares.
And yet he acknowledges that even terrorists can have purposes of a kind. “They smash and sabotage to ease the hellish conflict in which they are caught.” He believes that evil people “are in pain, and like a lot of people in pain will go to extreme lengths to find relief.”
Eagleton wants us to talk to Islamic fundamentalists but he is not soft on them. Their rhetoric is “riddled with the most virulent strains of prejudice and bigotry, as its torn and butchered victims have good reason to know.”
He concludes with a warning against ignoring Islamic grievances. “This [non-communication] is irrational prejudice to rival their own. More violence against them breeds more terror, which in turn puts more blameless people at risk.”
Where Eagleton seems most naïve in this book is in his apparent belief that it is only the West that has stymied any open, honest and productive dialogue over Islamic grievances. He may also wish to examine in some future book the silent majority of Islamists who seem unwilling or unable to rein in their violent brothers.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?