Seriously. Watch out for trashing of what for years Americans have called our "values." We've got a Republican party war on the whole matter of values. They've dropped "family values" and now would like you to believe that talking about values is divisive.
There are people -- among them people with guns in movie theaters and other vicious do-badders and not excluding some very, very rich Americans -- who are value-free, living in a kind of denial about what's out there in the real world and how they are affecting it. They have detached themselves from the common interest and are wholly focused on self. Mitt Romney exhibits that airless, affectless behavior all the time (and proudly!) and now he's joined by another class warrior, Senator Kyl.
Margaret Talbot catches the flavor of Kyl's sociopathy.
On the floor of the Senate this week, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican Minority Whip, criticized President Barack Obama for talking about the middle class. The mere phrase “middle class”—that most anodyne of demographic terms, the category to which half of all Americans polled identify, and into which Mitt Romney is always trying to shoehorn very, very wealthy people like himself—emerged, in Kyl’s evocation, as some kind of crazy-lefty bumper-sticker slogan. By alluding to “what he calls ‘the middle class,'" Kyl said, as though Obama had come up with the phrase, the President was “pitting these Americans” against the wealthy, “spreading economic resentment, and weaken[ing] American values and ideals.” Kyl went on: “We don’t need the current American President touring the country and defining every American’s values and status based on a class system that he’s made up. I don’t think there’s anything called middle-class values. I just think the whole discussion of class is wrong. It’s not what we do in America.”
Increasingly, it isn’t. Not if we’re in office or running for office, and especially not if we’re Republicans. ...
...This week, the AP came out with a story predicting that when the new census figures are released in the fall, they will show the American poverty rate is at its highest since 1965: 15.7 per cent. One of these days, Kyl and politicians like him are going to have to realize that not talking about inequality won’t make it go away. ...Margaret Talbot
Further on in the New Yorker, Rollo Romig tries to get at what we mean when we use the term "evil" -- lately about Aurora's killer, James Holmes. What strikes me again is that evil is simply the absence of good. A vacuum.
... To call the Aurora killer evil is to insist that he was able to choose between inflicting tremendous harm or not doing so, and chose harm. But while an evil act can’t be involuntary, evil doesn’t have to be the explicit objective of the one who commits it. Think of Jerry Sandusky, the shock of whose crimes had more to with the aggressive persistence he brought to satisfying his terrible desires than with any sense that he was motivated primarily by malevolence; Jeffrey Toobin was not alone in calling him “an evil, evil man.” But if evil is not always the product of an intention to destroy, it is always the product of a failure of intent: it’s the lack of an attempt to restrain oneself from inflicting what one knows will be great harm. ...Rollo Romig
I think that comes pretty close to the vacuum -- the anomie -- I see in Romney or, perhaps, the ease with which he profited from ruining others while apparently having no sense of obligation to those he ruined. He even seems to feel indignation at the suggestion that he should care a little more.
One commenter adds: "Evil is a term that defines those who willfully and purposefully inflict pain and suffering on others, for reasons that are deemed righteous. A violation of Torah."