I’m particularly recommending the book because Greenwald’s central thesis is also a personal hobby horse of mine. In both my view and Greenwald’s the concept of metaphysical evil is more than useless, it is a toxic crutch that the feeble and insecure use to avoid thinking past the end of their own noses. In a war it’s not enough to call your opponent evil, you also have to understand where he is coming from. You have to know why he does what he does and where his support comes from. Empty terms like “evil” imply the sort of ignorance about one’s enemy that usually goes together with losing.
The idea of evil has just as toxic an effect on the thinker. As Greenwald often points out, people who think that they are fighting evil can justify almost unlimited degrees of cruelty and misbehavior in the service of what they perceive as metaphysical good. I concur so strongly that a year and a half ago I coined my first Internet Law to emphasize the point:
In the context of a debate, calling another’s motivations ‘evil’ should be considered synonymous with, ‘I don’t understand and am too lazy to find out.’
Importantly, I don’t limit this point to Republicans. I cringe whenever a Bush critic starts using good/evil dichotomies because it illustrates the exact same weak thinking that caused the Bush bust in the first place. If anything our bungled terror war should illustrate how opposing bad people is not enough to make you good, you also have to do the hard work of setting an example.
Anyhow, whether or not Greenwald said it first he definitely said it longer. And there is probably a bunch of legalish mumbo-jumbo in there to firm up the point. Buy one for yourself and another as a Fourth o’ July gift for that special manichean in your life.
Glenn talks about his book.
As the fawning Chris Matthews remarks about Ann Coulter yesterday demonstrate, a book’s success can, by itself, guarantee access to our media organs in order to make arguments and offer perspectives which are otherwise excluded. Ultimately, all other considerations are washed aside by product success, the overarching language they truly understand.
I wrote the book for the same reason I blog: because I believe that arguments can be advanced, evidence marshalled and facts revealed which can serve as an antidote to our deeply dysfunctional political discourse and, through reasoned-based (though impassioned) persuasion, constructively influence our political process. A book’s success can force media outlets to provide a platform for the book’s arguments and to expand the range of voices and perspectives which are heard.
If you need a reason to buy Greenwald’s book, think about how fun it will be to see him on regular panels with Fred Kagan, Michelle Malkin and Anne Coulter. He drives them fucking crazy. James Carville and Paul Begala are pale substitutes for the kind of entertainment that a natural archivist like Greenwald can bring when he mixes with people who think they can make shit up and get away with it.