Group Evil

From How to Detect Evil by Katherine Yurica:
Peck draws a profile of the evil: they have no regard for the truth; they lie and live in a world of lies. They are masters of disguise and cloak themselves with masks of respectability, goodness and often piety. (Peck tells us that religiosity is a common and effective disguise.) But it is the appearance of propriety and respectability that is the important factor. Peck defines evil as: “The exercise of political power—that is, the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion…” Or in other words: it is the use “of political power to destroy others,” for the purpose of defending or preserving the integrity of one’s sick self (or group).

...Peck wrote, “It is almost common knowledge that the best way to cement group cohesiveness is to ferment the group’s hatred of an external enemy. Deficiencies within the group can be easily and painlessly overlooked by focusing attention on the deficiencies or ‘sins’ of the out-group. Thus the Germans under Hitler could ignore their domestic problems by scapegoating the Jews.”

To wit: Israeli soldiers reveal the brutal truth of Gaza attack
Another soldier said his battalion commander had said the operation was not "a limited confrontation such as in Hebron, and not to hesitate if we suspected someone nor feel bad about destruction because it is all done for the safety of our own soldiers... if we see something suspect and shoot, better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy". One soldier said the "awareness of each soldier going in is simply... a light finger on the trigger. You see something and you're not quite sure? You shoot".

...Military rabbis prepared troops for battle. One soldier said an army rabbi had "aimed at inspiring the men with courage, cruelty aggressiveness, expressions as 'no pity. God protects you. Everything you do is sanctified'... there were specific scenarios discussed... but from the context it was pretty obvious he came to tell us how aggressive and determined we need to be, that we must win because this is a holy war". Leaflets distributed at military synagogues had stated that "the Palestinians are like the Philistines of old, newcomers who do not belong in the land, aliens planted on the soil which should clearly return to us".

..."We talked about practical matters... but the basic approach to war was very brutal, that was my impression... He said something along the lines of 'don't let morality become an issue. That will come up later'. He had this strange language: 'Leave the nightmares and horrors that will come up for later, now just shoot'... The basic approach was that there were no chances taken. If you face an area that is hidden by a building, you take down the building. Questions such as 'who lives in the building?' are not asked."

..."The rabbi said we are actually conducting the war of 'the sons of light' against 'the sons of darkness'. This is in fact a statement with highly messianic language... It turns the other side as a generality into 'sons of darkness' while we become 'sons of light'. There is no differentiation which we would expect to find between civilians and others. Here is one people fighting another people, with all the messianic implications. But that's the point: this is also religious propaganda. In other words, the army is not a revival meeting. They do not put on a uniform in order to be Judaized."

..."Anything we did there, we'd answer ourselves: there's no other choice, but this is how we shirk our responsibility. You bring yourself to this kind of deterministic situation, a moment that I have not chosen, where I no longer have any responsibility for my own actions. Even if your choice is the right one, you must admit you chose it. You have to admit you chose to go into Gaza. As soon as you did, you've brought people into a moral twilight zone, you've forced them to handle dilemmas and part of that confrontation failed. As soon as you say 'there is no other choice', you're shirking your responsibility. Then you don't need to investigate, to look into things."

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