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For the week of Dec 26, 2001 - Jan 1, 2002

  Opinion Columns

Other ‘evils’ and 
‘evildoers’ are 
just as vile

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

President Bush rarely passes up a chance in impassioned public comments to use the word "evildoers" in describing the war on Osama bin Laden’s forces of terrorism. The metaphor of "evildoer" chosen by White House speechwriters as all-encompassing imagery for terrorists also has a useful touch of biblical condemnation that gives the president a loftier stature of preacher.

But there’s a downside to declaring war on "evildoers," as the president and his political jingoists surely will discover.

"Evildoers" are not confined to Afghanistan or the Taliban or Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaida followers.

Unhappily, the world is brimming with states and movements engaged in evildoing—some of them, alas, with whom we do big business.

The foremost "evildoer" that comes to mind is Mainland China, whose evil to its own people as well as to hapless, helpless neighboring Tibetans is legendary.

But China is a formidable player in the touchy game of global alliances. It’s also a major customer of U.S. corporations, whose balance sheets are far more important to CEOs than pursuing a principled war against evil.

In the commercial sector, the scandal of the Enron corporation, whose Texas executives are friends and political benefactors of President Bush, embodies the ultimate callousness of corporate evildoing—thousands of employees stripped of life savings in their company pension fund while executives steal off into the night with tens of millions of dollars in stock profits before the roof collapsed.

So, the day will come when an irreverent congressman or news reporter will ask the president—what about other "evildoers": Will he pursue them as vigorously as Osama bin Laden?

When the U.S. government and people set their minds to grand tasks, they are relentlessly efficient. We prove it in wartime with military might.

After President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the building of an atomic bomb and President John Kennedy ordered a space flight to the moon, both historical tasks were achieved in jiffy time.

Consider the wonders that the United States could achieve if President Bush abandoned ideological hang-ups and frivolous political alliances and committed the nation to genuine wars with lasting good.

Just as we spare no national resources to win in battle, why not commit billions of dollars more to the criminal justice system to attack corrupt "evildoers" at home that rob billions of dollars from the government and from families through fraud?

And instead of merely tinkering with energy needs from one crisis to another, consider the benefits to generations ahead if adequate resources were poured into developing environment-friendly new fuels that allow us to truly declare energy independence.

If the president and Congress can find billions to save struggling airlines (a few which would be better off out of business), where are the billions needed to once and for all wipe out diseases that cripple and kill thousands of Americans every year?

If viewed in their literal meaning, other "evils" and "evildoers" are just as vile and destructive as battlefield enemies.

As surely as the U.S. military succeeds in combat because it’s given the very best weaponry, the nation could succeed in conquering other evils if its commander-in-chief and Congress recognize that Americans have enemies at home just as dangerous as those half a world away hiding in Afghanistan caves.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.