Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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Commentary

April 29, 2013

The demise of evil

Evil should not surprise Americans. We’ve seen it so many times and in so many degrees and variations.

In those who tolerated people having to sit in the back of the bus, in children who torment animals, in bankers who knowingly sold junk financial products and helped to destroy the economy, and in men who set bombs by innocent bystanders at a marathon. The list is almost endless.

But still it shocks, as if the concept is unfathomable, as if 19 men didn’t kill thousands of innocent Americans only 12 years ago. And as if the Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell on trial for murdering children born alive is some kind of fluke of history.

I was reminded of this reading the many news reports about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev , the Russian-born brothers accused of the Boston marathon bombings. So many described the pair as “normal” young men, especially Dzhokhar, the younger survivor.

One classmate of the 19-year-old Dzhokhar at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth told Politico, “He was a pothead, a normal pothead. I couldn’t even imagine him being mad at someone, let alone hurting someone.”

Another told a USA Today reporter, “He was really social and hilarious. He was one of those people who would crack one joke and make your night.”

Really? Was that all there was to him? I wonder if any of his fellow party goers asked him about the things that mattered to him or his deepest desires. None of the quotes that I have seen about him speak to that side of the young man who federal investigators said admitted to planting two bombs with his brother that killed three people and injured more than 260.

To be fair, of course it is shocking when someone you know does something terrible. But it is as if collectively we do not understand that evil exists except for the moment it happens or as an event to cover, not as something present in human nature itself.

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