Nazis are evil. They’re evil because their ideology led to the deaths of millions of innocent men, women, and children who their compatriots in arms joyfully led off to the extermination camps. They have earned the title of “evil” by their body count, and thus every bit of opprobrium with which I can condemn them and their vile ideology.
Now, I hear you say, “what’s with that ideology thing? Ideas don’t kill people!” But they do. Ideas kill people in the same way that guns kill people — by extending the reach and ability to kill. A man armed with his bare hands can kill one person at a time. A man armed with an assault rifle can kill dozens of people at a time. A man armed with ideas can kill millions of people, as Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Pol Pot clearly proved. There are ideologies that should not get a fair hearing on any college campus or in any municipal auditorium because their ability to kill has proven to be so horrific that they should not be defended in the presence of any thinking man. Just as most people should not be allowed to be armed with nuclear weapons, most people should not be allowed to endorse or promote ideas that have proven equally deadly.
There’s a problem with using dead bodies as the measure of evil though. It’s easy to count up body counts when the people killed were directly killed by the people espousing the evil ideology. For example, Hitler. His Nazis killed millions of innocent men, women, and children as “untermenschen” who were vermin to be exterminated. Using his body counts to tally up just how evil he was (hint: very) is pretty easy.
But then you have someone like, say, Barack Obama, who conducted drone strikes that accidentally killed dozens of innocents while he was trying to kill Al Qaeda figures. Obama didn’t set out to be a mass murderer of innocent women and children. He didn’t desire it. But it did happen as a consequence of his actions and of his DLC centrist ideology.
Then you have today’s Congressional Republicans. They propose taking away healthcare from millions of people. That will directly lead to thousands of preventable deaths happening. Does this make their more, or less evil than Obama? Obama did give the order to conduct the airstrikes. But the Congressional Republicans and their market-based ideology don’t give orders. Indeed, that’s the whole point — rather than actively killing people, they simply refuse to do anything to keep people alive. Is refusing to help people who need help to stay alive more, or less evil than just going out and putting a bullet in those people’s heads? Is the body count less because a person died of preventable starvation rather than via a bullet to the head?
Let’s assume that you have ideology N that is actively evil and sends a million people to die in the gas chambers, and ideology C that simply refuses to help people and thereby lets a million people die due to starvation, lack of health care, etc. There’s a million dead people either way. But ideology C didn’t march those people to the death chambers, they simply let those people die slow and agonizing deaths due to hunger and disease. Why is ideology C less evil than ideology N? Explain.
– Badtux the Morality Penguin