The Many Appetites for Cruelty

by EDWARD CLINE April 3, 2012
Daniel Greenfield, during an interview on Jamie Glasov’s radio show on March 28th, was discussing Hitler and Stalin when he noted that they had an “appetite for cruelty.” That got me thinking about the nature and purpose of cruelty.

Hitler and Stalin (and Mao of China) murdered millions by order or by policies they knew would result in the deaths of millions. Was theirs a passionate cruelty, or a disinterested one? Hitler was certainly passionate in his hatred of Jews. Stalin, however, and his predecessor, Lenin, put their victims in an abstract equation that dehumanized those millions and spared the dictators any personal involvement.

Cruelty comes in two sizes: flaming and disinterested. They can be mixed and matched in a bewildering array of styles. All are facets of nihilism. Nihilism has meaning only if there is a good for it to erase or disfigure. It otherwise does not manifest itself. The good must be seen by a nihilist as a threat or a nemesis. Nihilism is evil. It is an evil in action.

Flaming cruelty, for example, is a Turkish or Pakistani or Somali Muslim raping, beating, maiming, and disfiguring a non-Muslim girl or woman in Europe. This also includes “honor” killings of Muslim women who flout Islamic “traditions” or “mores” or prescribed Islamic social behavior. It is a literal crime of passion, a passion for destroying the good for being the good. The offended “honor” is a self-estimate in the eyes of others. The “passion” is rooted in either a malevolent hatred of the good, or in a desperate fear of what other Muslims will think of one if one does not take “corrective” action – the destruction of a value, such as a wayward Muslim girl by her parents and relatives – to preserve one’s standing in the eyes of those others.

Disinterested cruelty is a government arm-twisting the news media into not reporting the rapes, beatings, disfigurements, and honor killings lest Muslims take exception to the fact that Muslims committed the crimes in conformance with Islamic doctrine. The rapes, beatings, disfigurements, and honor killings are not crimes in Islam’s eyes. They are expressions of conquest and dominance over an individual deemed an unbeliever or an apostate – of someone outside the collective. Islam has no moral basis. It is nihilistic to the core.

Government cruelty is its minions walking away from the suffering and impoverishment of individuals stripped of their wealth and rights and left to fend for themselves in an increasingly collectivist society. Observe the ubiquitous indifference to the wishes of Americans expressed by the advocates and champions of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). That it is an incomprehensible law, beset at the very beginning with corruption and special pleading, and is eminently “unworkable” are of no concern to its authors and advocates.

Cruelty is intimately linked to sadism. A sadist is chiefly a nihilist. Like the villain James Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, who yells, “I want to break him! I want to hear him scream!” he wishes to erase the good so that the evil can exist unidentified as such and unopposed.* Destroying the good is an attempt to prove the efficacy of the irrational. It is important to the sadist that the victim be conscious of that intention, and then to acknowledge it. That is the nature of cruelty’s victory.

The Affordable Care Act contains provisions for punishing those who do not submit, Muslim-like, to its mandate. It seeks to break the recalcitrant when they are taxed and punished until they scream in acknowledgement of the law’s efficacy and power. That is the secret hope of Kathleen Sebelius, Nancy Pelosi, and the White House. It is a disinterested example of cruelty. Of nihilism.

People stop being flesh-and-blood individuals with their own personal virtues, and become psychological night-vision, infrared silhouettes with no personal attributes and little or no value to the power-holder. People and the electorate become mere ghostly blobs "out there" beyond the insulated corridors of power.

Still, no matter the distance between the power-holder and the powerless, the appetite for cruelty sits unacknowledged deep inside the enactors and the enforcers.

Cruelty is the inflicting of pain, and serves two purposes: to demonstrate the existential efficacy of the perpetrator’s philosophy, and to derive pleasure from the evidence of pain in a victim.

This makes possible a third purpose, which is linked to or inextricably integrated with the first two: to see the good erased from existence, to see it perish in paroxysms of a pain that acknowledges defeat. The destruction and the pain “prove” to the sadist that his metaphysics is the right metaphysics. The destruction and the pain seem to sanction his actions.

Islam, for example, is a mode of existence that allows men to live half-lives. It does not tolerate an independent mind, and is an enemy of any other religious belief. It requires a mind frozen in action – a kind of conscious coma – arrested at the level of a litany of disparate moral imperatives. Which is why I often refer to Muslims as zombies – the living dead. It is collectivist from top to bottom. It demands the erasure of whatever self a child manages to create for himself and to submit to the collective. To the Borg hive.

Islam is totalitarian in nature, governing all aspects of an individual’s life. It cannot abide anything outside its doctrinal and behavioral confines that contradicts its essence, which is the requirement of mindless and selfless submission and the surrender of all values not approved by the doctrine. What the doctrine does not permit cannot be allowed to exist.

Front Page featured a video of the malevolent hubris of Belgian Islamist Abu Imran, leader of Shariah4Belgium, in Brussels, who explains calmly to a Western reporter how and why Belgium will become an Islamic caliphate (and eventually Europe, and then the world).
“We believe Sharia will be implemented in Belgium and worldwide…Islam and Sharia are inseparable….Democracy is the opposite of Islam and Sharia….This is a dirty, perverted community [Belgium, in particular, and western culture in general].”

Abu Imran can state the goals of Muslims in Europe with impunity and without fear of censorship or government reprisal. However, other rules apply to Europeans who criticize Islam. In Germany,
On February 14, 2012, Michael Mannheimer received a penalty fine from the Heilbronn district court in the degree of 50 days at 50 Euros per day (2,500 Euros). The basis for the fine was Mannheimer’s criticism of Islam, especially his claim that Islam is working on taking over and Islamizing Europe. In addition to this, his evidence that Islam is striving for world power and his conclusion that Qur’an and Sharia are irreconcilable with the Constitution.

The charges against Mannheimer are quoted in the article. He was fined and scheduled for trial by Turkish judges in a German court. This is disinterested cruelty in action. Or nihilistic sadism. The German court proved Mannheimer’s point by doing exactly what he was warning his country against. He was made an example of as a lesson for anyone else who dares criticize Islam.

You can’t condemn a man for the contents of his mind, no matter how evil the contents. It is only when he has taken actions to achieve that evil that one can judge him. Mannheimer spoke out to uphold the good. He was punished by those who seek to erase the good. In fact, he was punished for the contents of his mind.

In the final analysis, his mind was made a meal by and for those whose appetite for cruelty is not limited to mere physical or financial pain.

*Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. 1957. New York: Signet 1992. P. 1048.

Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.     

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