The best of Fred Hutchison
The fight against evil
Saying no to evil vs. denying evil
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
March 14, 2013

Originally published April 2, 2006

The culture war is in part a fight against evil. This essay will focus upon the nature of evil, how we should confront evil, and the agendas and tactics of evil we may encounter in the culture war.

The mystery of evil

There are some things in the infernal realm and the dark recesses of human hearts that are unknown to us. Theologians refer to this as "the mystery of evil." Diabolical evil and resplendent holiness are supernatural and therefore are mysteries to the human mind.

God – as a good parent who realizes that there are some things his children are better off not knowing – withholds from us the knowledge of some aspects of evil. He teaches us about evil on a need-to-know basis.

In order to survive amidst the evils of this world and to fight evil, there are indeed some things about evil we need to know. Our knowledge of evil should be limited to a conceptual understanding of certain principles of evil. We should avoid the experiential knowledge that comes from participation in evil. Ideally, we should be like wise adults in our understanding of evil, but like innocent children in our experience of it. "Brethren, be not children in understanding; however, in malice be children, but in understanding be men." (1 Corinthians 14:20)

The two-front war with casualties

The exposure of evil and the act of giving evil a name in public forums is half the battle. In addition, there is a private battle with sin and evil faced by every person on earth – a battle beyond the sphere of the general culture war that intimately concerns the individual, the family, and the church. The Christian, with the grace of God, must fight against evil on two fronts: the private struggle with sin, and – as good citizens – the public opposition to the agendas of evil in society.

Good citizens should use public forums to identify evil, explain why it is evil, and say "no" to it. Writers, speakers, public servants, and pastors must be bold and dare to say no to evil. It takes courage to say no, because the wicked sometimes publicly malign their opponents or retreat into sullen, vengeful malice, waiting for an opportunity to strike. However, our victory over public evil does not begin until we have the courage and fortitude to say no to evil itself.

Soldiers in a war will endure counterattacks and suffer casualties. Many Americans have not yet grasped the fact that if America fights a global war against terrorism, we will inevitably suffer casualties. Some folks are withdrawing their support for the war because they had not counted the cost. They did not realize that evil never gives up without a bitter fight.

The good citizen who mounts the public podium and says no to evil might suffer the wounds of vengeful malice, the anguish of rejection, the sorrows of defamation, and the injustice of persecution. Before enlisting in the forces that are fighting evil, one must count the cost.

Truth versus evil

The immediate consequences of saying no to the gay agenda are sometimes spectacular. Those who have experience debating homosexuals understand that if one exposes the dreadful realities of gay sexuality, the fallacies of gay arguments, or the public dangers of the gay agenda, homosexual opponents will sometimes throw temper tantrums and shout personal insults. Those who have never encountered this phenomenon have probably not debated many gays.

Should we walk on eggshells to avoid offending gays? No – but we need not use unnecessary roughness. Mere truth is very potent by itself, and we actually diminish the force of truth if we use words or actions that are more forceful than the circumstances require. Those who trust in the power of truth feel no need to shout.

When one speaks truth and says no to evil, the agendas of evil are exposed and resisted, and the momentum of evil is broken and thrown back in confusion. The tantrums, insults, and threats that might ensue are a manifest sign of the confusion and moral weakness of the wicked. We can claim victory only if we remain calm, reasonable, and resolute. "And in nothing be terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God." (Philippians 1:28) When we remain calm, respectful, rational, unafraid, and steadfast in our stand for the truth in the face of the threatenings and slanders of the wicked, it is a visible sign of victory for us. The misbehavior of the wicked is a shame to them.

Interestingly, our battle is not one of good versus evil, but of truth versus evil. Evil always concocts a lie that confutes truth. As Christians, we have authority to speak truth, but we have no grounds to claim to be good. The only goodness we have the right to claim is Christ's goodness imputed to our account and working within us, not as the reward of merit, but as an undeserved benefaction received by faith. In contrast, when we oppose evil, we have the right to say, "This is Truth, and Here I Stand," to paraphrase the famous words of Luther.

The denial of evil

One reason why the culture war of this generation is especially urgent is that Americans no longer have a consensus about the existence of truth or the existence of evil. It is difficult to discuss evil with those who deny the existence of evil. That is precisely why we must understand enough about evil to explain why something is evil.

When a society denies the existence of evil, the forces of evil are given cover. From the advantage of concealment, evil has opportunities to infiltrate, to subvert, to wheedle its way into power, and to deprive the people of their liberty. Therefore, part of our task is to restore the once-universal understanding that evil exists.

When evil weasels its way into power, those who once doubted the existence of evil might change their minds when they see how wicked men behave when they are in power. Those who are crushed by tyrannical evil powers might quickly cast aside their doubts about the existence of evil – but then it may be too late. It is too late for a lamb to flee the wolf when it is in the wolf's mouth. Free men can fight evil, but those in dungeons cannot – unless they are spiritual heroes like the Apostle Paul in a Roman jail, or moral heroes like Solzhenitsyn in a Soviet gulag.

The admiration of evil

What is a common example of disbelief in evil? A person who calls terrorists "freedom fighters" is giving away the fact that he does not believe they are evil. If the random murder of civilians by zealous fanatics is not evil, then nothing is evil. Therefore, it is a fair deduction that many of those who do not believe terrorists are evil also do not believe in the existence of evil.

Those who deny the existence of evil are often outraged when good men give evil a name and fight against it. This outrage sometimes prompts them to take the side of evil. Their wish to vindicate their stand that evil does not exist naturally leads them to become apologists and defenders of evil.

The term "freedom fighters" confers praise to evil. The defense of evil can be very close to the admiration of evil. Evil is seductive precisely because it is secretly admired by deeply-buried chambers of darkness in the human heart. Therefore, it is very difficult to defend evil without slipping into the veiled admiration of evil. This is why the ACLU has slipped from defending evil clients because they have constitutional rights, to having solidarity with miscreants and enthusiasm in their advocacy of evil causes.

The dark journey downward into evil

The passage from truth to the hideous delusion that evil is admirable – and even good – is a journey through shadowy corridors and through several levels of descent into darkness. This journey into darkness typically has at least seven stages. They are like seven levels of dark basements that one descends in series.

1) The first floor down into the darkness involves denial that one is a sinner. One remains there until he erects defenses against the idea that he is a sinner. Then he can resume his downward descent. The place is dark because the defenses of denial will not allow light to intrude.

2) From the stage-one denials, the journey into darkness proceeds downwards to a second denial – the denial that evil exists. This is followed by the erection of defenses against the idea of evil.

3) Then comes the descent into the delusion that those who fight evil are themselves evil: (a) "You must be evil because you say those nice freedom fighters are evil"; and (b) "You must be evil for breaking our 'speak no evil' rule. You shock our sensibilities by telling us about the disturbing things that those nice gays are doing."

4) Next comes the hatred of those who fight evil. Hatred is a crucial stage in the developmental process of evil and leads to many delusions. Without hatred, fact-less conspiracy theories and poisoned ideologies cannot come into existence.

5) The fifth floor down into darkness is to believe – or to be willing to tell the lie – that evil things are good, and good things are evil. "Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." (Isaiah 5:20)

6) The sixth stage is to hate the victims of evil or to hate those whom the good guys are protecting. When professor Ward Churchill called the victims of the 9/11 terror bombings "little Eichmanns" – i.e., like Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi mass murderer – he was functioning at the sixth level of evil and hatred.

7) The seventh stage of evil is serial killing, terrorism, and genocide.

Hollywood vilifies the good guys

Hollywood has sunk to the fourth level of evil by vilifying the good guys, a practice it began in the 1960's. One of the movies that pioneered this genre was The Manchurian Candidate (1962). It was a well-crafted movie with top stars and good writers, but it caricatured anti-Communists as either simpletons or agents of murderous conspiracies.

Hollywood has developed an extreme caricature of evil that it often uses to denigrate Evangelicals because they condemn evil. An early example of this caricature was used in The Dirty Dozen (1967). "Maggot" was a crazed bigot and a Bible-quoting, hellfire-obsessed maniac who murdered loose women while grinning and chuckling sadistically. This demented caricature of an Evangelical represents the vicious cartoon level of metaphor that can only occur when hatred is added to prejudice. The writer who created the Maggot character was a hater.

Proselytizing the ideologies of hate

The descent from truth to the darkened level where one calls evil good, and good evil, requires intense hatred. Historically, recruiters for the Communist Party found that they could not convert most folks to their cause solely through the use of Marxist dogma. Many Americans found Marxist theory to be far-fetched, and those who did accept the theory were often repulsed by the agendas of Soviet Marxist-Leninism. The Communist recruiters had to soften up their candidates by teaching them to hate.

To many normal, morally-sane Americans, Marxist theory has always been nonsense. However, one who has learned to hate his own country can find much to sympathize with in Marxist theory. Hatred opens the door of deceptive philosophies like Marxism. The Communist recruiters began by feeding their candidates a steady literature of anti-American propaganda. Once the recruiters satisfied themselves that a candidate hated America with a sufficient degree of fervor, they led the candidate through a program of Marxist theory and Marxist-Leninist methods. This is the point at which conversions to the Communist party-line generally took place.

After the Soviet Regime collapsed, some of the evil done by the Communists lived on. They salted the world with anti-American propaganda resulting in a persistent bias against America in many places. This latent Anti-Americanism can be exploited by the troublemakers of our day, such as the propagandists of radical Islam.

The indoctrination of Islamic jihadists follows an approach that is similar to what the Communists used. The process starts with hate literature against America and Israel. A good deal of the indoctrination of Palestinian school children consists of hate propaganda. Later in the process of indoctrination, extreme Islamist ideology is introduced. The results are: (1) hatred for America and Israel, (2) sympathy for terrorists on the Arab street, (3) the training of many in jihadist ideology, and (4) a reservoir of recruits for terrorist training. The agendas of hate have turned some precincts of the Arab world into little hells on earth.

The American left blames the hatred for America and the abundance of recruits for terrorism on American foreign and military policy. However, evil is not reasonable – a hard reality that those who deny the existence of evil are unable to understand. The program of indoctrination of jihadist ideology will proceed apace regardless of what America does. Hating America is just as necessary to jihadist propaganda as it was to Communist propaganda.

The jihadists opportunistically seize upon American actions for propaganda purposes, of course, but these resourceful moves are merely tactical. In contrast, the ideology of hatred is an end in itself. Evil is essentially narcissistic. It serves no higher causes. It appropriates higher causes, like Islamic devotion to Allah, to serve its own narcissistic ends of hatred and revenge. Those energized by evil will always be able to find the grist for their conspiracy theories and propaganda mills to keep their programs of hate in operation.

It is astonishingly naive to suppose that the anti-American hate-machine will close down if we are nicer to jihadists. This would be like telling Jews in Nazi Germany that it was their own fault they were on their way to the gas chambers because they were not nice enough to the Nazis. The Nazis took the Jews who were nice to them and put them in charge of torturing the other Jews – so that pure German hands were not soiled with the filth of Jewish untouchables.

Evil exists, boys and girls, and it is not reasonable. It cannot be bargained away, placated, appeased, or persuaded. It will keep on coming until someone has the moral courage to stand against it.

The straight and the crooked

Not all evil follows a development process beginning with denial or hate. There is great variation in kinds of evil. Leo Tolstoy's opening line of Anna Karenina gives us a clue. "Happy families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." There seems to be an infinite variety of dysfunctional families. The same is somewhat true of evil that appears in many forms and guises.

The right way is a straight path. "Narrow is the gate and hard is the way that leads to life" (Matthew 7: 14). According to the Amplified Bible, the hard path is straightened and narrowed. In contrast, the way that leads to destruction is broad and crooked (see Matthew 7:13). The text calls it a "broad path," and we can infer that it is also a crooked path because the departure from a straight path requires a crooked movement. Interestingly, the word "wicked" means morally crooked. A thief is a "crook," meaning a man who is traveling on a crooked path because he is wicked.

The straight and the gay

Homosexuals are difficult to categorize and analyze because there is an extraordinary variety in the sexual perversions that some of them practice. No two gays are alike in their perversions. It is no accident, of course, that we as a society have adopted the phrase "gay and straight." The phrase implies that gays are sexually crooked – i.e. wicked, in contrast with those who are sexually normal, i.e. straight.

If every happy family is much alike, as Tolstoy thought, the marriage bed of a happy husband and a happy wife invariably has a certain regularity and predictability about it. In contrast, sexual perversion leads not only to an ever-increasing variety of crookedness, but to many kinds of misery and many paths to self-destruction.

The classic criticism of traditional marriage by unhappy bohemians is that it is boring, routine, and lacking in variety. It is quite true that the blessed estate of marriage seems boring to those who are miserable, because they have explored a variety of self-destructive perversions and can no longer enjoy the simple and normal things of life.

One of the most troubling recent developments in our culture is the rapidly-increasing sympathy for homosexuality by millions of Americans. One who is on a straight path does not admire one who is crooked. However, one who is crooked in one way might have sympathy for one who is crooked in another way. The increasing sympathy for homosexuality signifies an increasing wickedness amidst the masses of people.

Sympathy for pedophiles

Judge John Connor, of my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, recently "sentenced" a pedophile who had raped small children to probation. The story appeared in national cable news. Connor said in court that his own "sickness" of alcoholism was comparable to the pedophile's "sickness," in the sense that both conditions are amenable to therapy.

Having reduced his own wickedness of irresponsible drinking to a medical pathology, Connor conceptually reduced the pedophile's wickedness of destroying children to an illness to be treated by the medical establishment. Connor sympathized with the pedophile as one sick person sympathizes with another. Notice how Connor exempted himself and the pedophile from responsibility and shame, and from a guilty conscience.

Connor's developmental process of evil did not begin with hatred. It began with his denial of moral responsibility and the rationalization of his self-indulgent abuse of alcohol. His denial of moral responsibility led him to sympathy for a destroyer of children. This sympathy with evil was followed by a refusal to employ judicial punishment and an unwillingness to protect children from predators. His sympathy with evil was depraved and his legal reasoning was confused.

Does such denial of responsibility eventually lead to the kind of moral depravity exhibited by Judge Connor? Sometimes, but not always. Some people descend to a particular stage of darkness and stop there because they refuse to go lower. I knew a man who was stuck in the same niche of low-grade malice for thirty years. In contrast, the man who never says no to evil will proceed downward until he reaches the seventh level of depravity, or destroys himself on the way down. The only reason why we have not all sunk down to the seventh level of evil is that at some point we've said "no" to evil, or the grace of God held us back when we were about to say "yes."

The proud wicked and the humble righteous

An evil man almost invariably insists he is good. Adolf Eichmann was proud of the discipline he brought to the Nazi death machine, a pride that continued until his execution. In contrast, the great saints wept for hours before God in prayer confessing the wickedness of their hearts.

King Henry II appointed his friend Thomas a Beckett to be Archbishop of Canterbury and was astonished by Beckett's sudden conversion to a sanctified life. Well, it was not so sudden. While Beckett was the king's crony, he pretended to be a dandy and a rascal, but underneath his splendid clothing he wore a hair shirt. Self-examination and the anguish of a troubled conscience were far advanced prior to his appointment. After becoming a great bishop, Thomas sometimes prayed all night in his chapel, weeping until his vestment was wet with tears as he endlessly confessed his sins and piteously cried out to God for mercy.

In contrast to Eichmann, a monster who thought he was a good man, Beckett was a saint who thought he was a monster. These are not anomalies. The coteries of rascals are mutual admiration societies who have solidarity in the delusion that they are good. Saints confess their evil hearts to one another with groans and tears.

What happens to a child who grows up in a home or a society that denies the existence of evil? The child is encouraged to deny his own inner wickedness. The fastest way to breed a monster is to tell a child that evil does not exist, and then to tell the child that he is an angel. The self-esteem movement of the 1970's and 1980's did more to inculcate the denial of evil than any other movement of the recent past. It bred a culture of narcissism and denial that is the breeding ground of evil.

Narcissism and denial

In a prior essay, I emphasized the role of narcissism in the development of evil. In this essay, I have emphasized denial. However, in most cases the two go together. Most men of great evil have both an inflated sense of pride and an impenetrable denial of evil.

How are narcissism and denial interrelated? Well, inordinate self-love, self-absorption, and pride are delusional. One cannot sustain a delusion without denial. As the delusions of pride are inflated, higher and higher walls of defense and denial must be constructed. Of course, the more absurd one's illusions, the easier they are to puncture with reality. Vulnerable illusions must be sheltered behind thick walls.

Denial that one is a sinner opens the door to fantasies of self-love and pride. With a dose of denial, one can feed and water these poison plants, while preserving the illusion of one's goodness from being shattered by reality.

The budding narcissist cannot remain a model citizen indefinitely. The nagging selfish demands of narcissism will eventually intrude upon the rights and welfare of one's neighbors. The narcissist says "me first," as he thrusts his sharp elbow in his neighbor's side. Narcissism can grow to criminal proportions as one shoves a gun into his neighbor's side and demands his wallet. This is an extreme version of "me first," or, "I want what I want when I want it."

The narcissism of homosexuality demands that every impulse must be indulged and every kinky itch must be scratched, no matter how vile or perverted the experiment. The narcissism of terrorism reduces the innocent victims to the level of ants to be stepped on while the terrorist rejoices in his glorious status of epic martyr-hero.

Men without chests

The first chapter of the book The Abolition of Man, by C. S. Lewis, is titled "Men without Chests." Lewis cites the classical idea that man is composed of three parts: the head, the chest, and the belly. The head is oriented towards a higher realm of reason, metaphysics, and spirituality. The belly is oriented downwards toward the sensual appetites. The chest is designed to mediate between the head and the belly.

According to Lewis, the sentiments of the chest must be cultivated and educated in the classical or manly virtues. This education might include reading literary classics and poetry and the cultivation of the fine arts. Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans was expressly written for cultivating the manly virtues from the examples of great men.

A man educated and cultivated in the virtues will be able not only to think correctly about the virtues, but to have correct instincts and feelings about life according to these virtues. The passion for virtue is found in men with chests. It is a very similar concept to God's expressed intent to write his laws upon the hearts of His people. (Hebrews 8:10)

The secular education establishment teaches that all values are subjective and no value is rooted in a higher objective realm. Thus, instead of training a man's chest in the eternal virtues, our educators are cutting off a man from his chest. Our tax-supported schools are manufacturing millions of men without chests. A classical educator would not regard this as education, but as anti-education.

Whatever virtues have taken root in a man's chest are stripped away by our "educators" so that the adolescent returns to timorous, feckless dithering and self-absorbed boyhood, instead of becoming a man. This is why the movie stars of the forties were men, but the movie stars of the nineties were boys in men's bodies.

Lewis said in words that cannot be improved upon: "We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst."

Producing men without chests is one means of promoting evil. Men without chests do not have the moral sentiments to oppose evil in society. They do not have the inner fortitude to fight the temptations to evil in their own hearts. They find the lure of narcissism to be irresistible.

Men without chests are sensual. Lewis said that without the chest, the head becomes detached from the body, and withers. Then the belly with its appetites unrestrained becomes the predominant motive force of life.

Gay males are men without chests. They have an aching void where their manly chest is supposed to be. They seek to fill this void by attempting to suck the maleness out of another man through sexual appetites of the belly. Gay sex is parasitical and has nothing to do with love.

Some intellectuals who have no chest become talking heads that are divorced from their hearts. In the fiction of Lewis, the detached head was the ultimate symbol of horror. As a professor at Oxford and Cambridge, Lewis had plenty of colleagues who were talking heads.

We've all had professors who were talking heads. Their hearts were as cold as ice, while their heads ran out of control with their mouths endlessly chattering in soulless dialog. I had nightmares after a long conversation with a professorial talking head. I was terrified that I might also become a monstrous talking head. That is why I did not pursue a doctorate, but did a great deal of independent reading instead.

C. S. Lewis as a teacher was no talking head. He was careful to teach his students the Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance ideas of love, in order to educate the hearts of his students. Unfortunately, in this era of men without chests, romantic love has faded. Men without chests are incapable of falling in love. Sexual teasing has replaced courtship, and mere sex has replaced romantic love.

Manly virtues

Men with chests love truth and virtue, and hate evil. They have courage, fortitude, temperance, authority, resolution, gravity, honesty, justice, self-control, and all the manly virtues (i.e., the Roman virtues). These are the natural warriors against evil.

Lord, send us more men with chests full of manly virtues so we can defeat the forces of evil in this generation.

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at

© Fred Hutchison


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They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31