I read a couple of really good, interesting novels recently: "The Atrocity Archives" and "Bad Monkeys". The commonality that they share is that both of them deal with Evil. In "Bad Monkeys", the author describes a secret organization dedicated to "Evil"--blowing up orphans, kidnapping children, &c. The "Atrocity Archives", a sort of Lovecraft-meets-le Carré sci-fi novel, suggests that the Holocaust was a type of blood sacrifice that Hitler used to summon demons to fight the war (essentially).
I enjoyed both novels, but a big problem that I had with them is that I do not believe in Evil. I certainly believe in "murderous fuckheads", and I believe that life circumstances can cause people to behave in very bad ways, but to externalize such actions and to call them "evil" really misses the point. The Holocaust was not a war tool--it was a deliberate attempt to murder millions of people. That's really hard to deal with--it's much easier to give it some other goal but anything else would be grossly incorrect. And this is important not just for historical reasons, but also because it effects the way we perceive the world and how we live in it. If Hitler really was a Magic Necromancer, then his actions were essentially spiritual in nature-he's just Evil. We don't need to worry about the Treaty of Versailles, or the general socio-economic conditions that led to the Third Reich, because Shit Happens, and some folks are just Possessed by Satan. There's nothing to be done except to kill Evil people before they get too powerful.
"Bad Monkeys" deals more directly with this idea of Evil people (and of killing them before they do too much damage). I had a hard time really wrestling with what I assume were the moral quandaries in the novel because I find the idea of "people who acknowledge that they are evil" so ridiculous. More and more I come to understand that there just aren't any cackling super villains--everyone has a justification for what they do, and everyone can tell you why they are really a good guy, even if they have to do some bad things every so often. The Nazi's concocted an elaborate mythology about how the Jews would "destroy the German people", so that they could sigh and say "The difficult decision had to be taken, to cause this people to disappear from the earth." They weren't committing genocide because they were Evil, see, it was really more like self-defense.
Anyway, this all came to mind just now because Brad Hicks linked to this story about exchanging green cards for sex. So there's this immigration agent, Isaac Baichu, who threatened to trash this women's green card application unless she had sex with him. The whole thing seems remarkably straight forward--he said that she could get her green card if she had sex, and then he forced her to give him a blow job in his car. This guy is pretty much as Evil as it gets.
The woman* recorded the whole thing on her cell phone, and a large part of the recording is available on the New York Times. It fascinates me that, as he is blackmailing her, he keeps acting as if it's at all somehow ok. He's talking about how they should hang out, and suggests that he'll introduce her to his daughter. Even after she says that it would be hard to have sex with him, because she's so in love with her husband, he says, "You'll get to like me because I'm a nice guy, I'll treat you nice, too". This is the bit that really made my head spin, and got me thinking about the Nazis, I guess. Anyway, I really don't think that he was putting on a show for her--I think he was putting on a show for himself.
I have no idea what I'm trying to say, and maybe Brad's incoherent rant was a much better response to this, actually. For that matter, I didn't quite expect to delve so deeply into Nazism on an empty stomach, and it amazes me effecting I find the details, even about something clichéd as the Nazis.
*Who is awesome, by the way. Not only did she have the intelligence to set her cell phone to "Record Video" before getting in the car, but she also had the guts to follow it up with the DA's office. Then she met with him again(!!), and this time the police recorded them. Then they arrested him.Come to think of it, she's awesome for not just losing her shit and killing him right there in his car.