...I hereby commend you, and I counsel you by way of caution to forbear from crossing the moor in those dark hours when the powers of evil are exalted.I've been following with fascination the turn the American federal election has taken since John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his VP candidate. The first interesting thing was the big surge of enthusiasm among conservatives for this hitherto unknown woman from Alaska, and the more I read about her, the more I shared that enthusiasm, especially when I read that she and her husband have 5 children, and the youngest has Down Syndrome.
This was quickly supplanted, however, by the increasingly weird and dark turn taken by the attacks of some of the leftist Obama supporters in the media and the blogosphere. Mark Shea has been compiling many of these attacks, under the headings "Sin Makes You Stupid", and "Freakish Enemies of the Normal", and I have quickly come to share his uneasy feeling that there is something seriously wrong with the people who have come so unhinged over the sight of this very normal, very American family.
The simplest things aroused a tide of rage and hatred that have left me stunned. I really feel that there is something dark and evil walking abroad in the world today, and that it hasn't invaded by force: people have opened the gates and invited it in.
There's something so wonderfully true in old legends, and one of the oldest is that evil doesn't invade like a conquering enemy; it has to have accomplices before it can do its work. Pandora had to open the box before evil could sweep into the world; Faust called Mephistopheles; when Jonathan Harker arrived at Dracula's castle, the first words he heard were "Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!" The Bible speaks several times of people "giving themselves to" evil, and I have that uneasy feeling that today we are witnessing many people "giving themselves to" the powers of evil. We've seen it before: the worst evils of the 20th century were released by people who willingly and enthusiastically surrendered themselves to forces that seemed strong, unstoppable, and capable of tearing up the old rule book.
There is a real stink of brimstone in the hatred I'm reading (warning - the link is to an extremely vile blog)- a sense of people who have surrendered themselves to forces that should have remained subdued. Obama himself started out by trying to control his raging supporters, but they will not listen to him; they are like people who have tasted an unaccustomed, unexpected pleasure, and want to experience it again and again. Journalists talked of the tide of fury "unleashed" against Palin, and once again, language tells us the truth. It tells us that there are things that SHOULD be "leashed" - held back, restrained, suppressed - that "leashing" such impulses is the normal state, and when that ceases to be, then something has gone wrong. It's like watching that moment on 9/11 when the steel spine of the Twin Towers failed; something really catastrophically unnatural had happened, and then we saw the inevitable, irreversable slide to destruction.
There seems to be almost a relief among the people raging and hurling insults that finally they are free. Free to hate - mothers, children, the "abortion-worthy", normality - and the restraints that have held their hatred back for so long have finally been cast aside. I once read that a person who murders an adult does a terrible thing, an attack on humanity. But a person who kills a child is defiantly throwing his act in the face of God himself. It is such a reversal of all that is normal and decent, it can only come from someone who has sundered himself from the very source of being itself.
I don't feel that this is just an uncharacteristic blowing off of steam of a few people who've had a bad day; I feel that this hatred is a permanent, fixed state of many more people than we have realized until now. I have that same desolate feeling that I had when the Twin Towers fell; that something terribly evil is abroad in the world, that people have let it loose, and that this isn't just like a one-night drunken binge that will have evaporated tomorrow, or on November 5. It's a moment "when the powers of evil are exalted".