He said that the problem with liberals is that they don't believe in evil.
He was speaking, if I remember correctly, in reference to the recent opening of communication between the United States and Iran, but I will focus on the general question of evil for right now.
Certainly, there are evil individuals; psychopaths and pedophiles who prey on innocent children. And I think there is certainly a difference between a legitimately insane individual and one who knows right from wrong and doesn't care.
Also, I would say that there are evil philosophies and regimes; the Nazi's being the best recent example, and I would argue that a lot of very evil individuals rose through the ranks very quickly until the whole system was top-heavy with psychopathy.
But to write off the Nazi chapter in human history as "those evil people" is a cop-out for the rest of humanity.
What about all the Nazis who were not psychopaths? The sheep, the onlookers, the bystanders, the ones who were "just following orders." These people made the psychopaths' world a reality; without the willing masses, the Third Reich could never have happened. And those people, all those people, were no different from you or me.
And the most important thing we have to remember is that, psychopaths aside, the Nazi's thought they were the good guys. In their reality, the people who opposed them were "evil" and needed to be destroyed so that they, the good guys, could survive.
Proof that the Holocaust could have happened anywhere under the right circumstances is the Milgram experiments. (Frankly, it's a shame that Milgram's experiments aren't part of standard middle school curriculum, because this bit of psychology needs to be common knowledge.)
In 1963, Stanley Milgram, a Yale University psychiatrist, designed an experiment to test how far individuals could be pushed to act against their own moral conscience under the direction of perceived authority figures. The test consisted of three participants: a scientist who was conducting the experiment (the authority figure), a volunteer who was designated the "teacher," and a "student," whom the "teacher" thought was another volunteer but was actually faking the role of "student." The volunteers thought they were participating in an experiment about memory and learning. When the student answered a question incorrectly, the teacher was instructed to push a button that would shock the student, with subsequent wrong answers requiring higher voltage shocks, the highest being 450 volts. With each successive shock, the students reacted as if they were in more and more pain, at some points pleading not to be shocked, screaming, or becoming unresponsive.
When the teacher hesitated or objected, the scientist would urge him or her to continue with four pre-scripted phrases in order:
- Please continue.
- The experiment requires that you continue.
- It is absolutely essential that you continue.
- You have no other choice, you must go on.