Time to take sides | AspenTimes.com

Time to take sides

Dear Editor:

In the dictionary, the word “evil” is first presented as an adjective. A term used to describe one’s interpretation of events or deeds or people that are so low, so despicable, that they merit this indelible label of moral judgment. We use caution in our society in applying the term. In modern history, a handful of events and individuals are almost universally considered evil, unified by the willingness of participants to commit unspeakable acts against other humans.

As described in virtually all belief systems ” human evil seeks the fog of our rage, aimed at each other, usually over current and historic events, to exploit our human weaknesses. It exploits our fear of differences, primarily differences between cultures and religions. It requires disenfranchisement of the masses for popular support. It uses our human frailties against us, manipulating our understanding of acceptable actions towards others to include the unspeakable. Human evil seeks to create an environment where not individuals, but entire populations find it plausible that destroying others is morally acceptable.

We tend these days to think of evil in rhetorical terms. A sanitized, Socratic discussion in a safe and free environment about such issues, an intellectual exchange and then everyone gets lunch.

But human evil is not rhetorical. Unfortunately, human evil lives today, mostly in hiding, seeking its next opportunity at mass appeal. As a young child during World War II, my mother suffered nightmares about Nazi stormtroopers invading her Canton, Ohio, home and killing her family while she was forced to watch. Imagine the terror suffered even today by survivors of Nazi terror.

Thinking of evil in these terms, as an action requiring human involvement and intent, brings me more clarity in seeing the difference between what is simply contemptible behavior and what is truly evil.

By this definition, creating a movie to persuade others that the most systematic example of human evil in modern history never took place constitutes evil. Any representation that the Holocaust never happened is a sick, loathsome lie; and within such lies are the seeds of human evil, lurking in the darkness, for the opportunity to rekindle long smoldering divisions.

Such threats to society require more than a rhetorical response. At the first sign they require peaceful but resolute action. Denying access to free community media for movies like “Judea Declares War on Germany” is one such action that we as a community can take this week.

This is not a denial of free speech. It is simply the denial of access to free media. If “Holocaust as Conspiracy” is such a compelling story, it will find a way to reach the masses without our help.

Free and equal access to community media, for the purpose of free speech, is a noble mission. It is in fact so noble that as an enlightened community in a free nation, we should not permit the perpetrators of human evil to hide behind it in order to gain an audience.

Sometimes in a free society, it is not possible to treat everyone equally. Sometimes, as the saying goes, in order to be human, you have to take sides. On this issue, there is only one side to take.

Paul Menter


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