Murderers who feel sorry for themselves, and other characteristics of evil.

A British doctor (Anthony Daniels – pen-name Ted Dalrymple) says the following: “My medical practice, admittedly of a peculiar kind, in a slum and in a prison, convinced me of the prevalence of evil. I was surprised. I had spent a number of years in countries wracked by civil wars and thereby deprived of even minimal social order, precisely the conditions in which one might expect evil to be widely committed, if only because in such situations the worst come to the fore. But nothing prepared me for the sheer malignity, the joy in doing wrong, of so many of my compatriots, when finally I returned home. Every day in my office I would hear of men who tortured women – torture is not too strong a word – or commit the basest acts of intimidation, oppression and violence, with every appearance of satisfaction and enjoyment…”

“Still, I nevertheless read a book that shocked me. It was about the Rwandan genocide, called A Time for Machetes, by a French journalist called Jean Hatzfeld. He interviewed several men who had taken part in the genocide, probably the most murderous in human history, at least in terms of numbers of deaths per day while it lasted, and were now imprisoned. One of them was under sentence of death.

Machetes abandoned by Murderers

“In that slaughter, in the space of three months, neighbours killed without compunction those with whom they had been friendly all their lives, only because they were of the different, and reputedly opposing, ethnic designation. They used no high-tech means, only clubs and machetes. Women and children were not spared; husbands of mixed marriages killed wives, and vice versa.”

Bloggers note: The victims were from the Tutsi tribe, and the slaughter was stopped when the Tutsis’ fellow tribesmen from a neighboring country invaded and put a stop to it.

“…Hatzfeld, the African correspondent of the French left-wing newspaper, Liberation, went to interview some of the perpetrators a few years after the genocide. They were friends who took part in the murder (if that is not too slight a word for it) of 50,000 of the 59,000 Tutsis who lived in their commune…there is no real remorse for what they did, only regret that it landed them in their current predicament. They feel more sorry for themselves than for their victims, or the survivors.”

In my (the blogger) own experience with evil, I noticed a few things:

  1. Even in a friendly country like the U.S. there is a subset of malignant people of all races and creeds.
  2. These malignant people sometimes find each other and band together, even if they differ somewhat in ideology.
  3. These malignant people understand good people, but good people do not understand malignant people.
  4. These malignant people attack others who attract their attention and their dislike in some way, and the question with them is not why they do it, but “why not.”
  5. These people do not subscribe to a “do unto others as they do unto you” philosophy.
  6. These people will use any means, fair or foul, including lies and deceit, to hurt their victims.
  7. These people do not believe in affording their victims the American values of “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”.
  8. These people cannot take criticism – it’s an occasion for revenge. They are completely intolerant. They have no self-insight.

In Rwanda, we can also see a lack of self-insight:

Says the British doctor;
“For three months, the men would get up, have a hearty breakfast, gather together, and then go on hunting expeditions of their former neighbours, who had fled to the nearby marshes. They would hack anyone they found to death; and then, when the whistle blew in the evening for them to stop their “work’ (they regarded it as such), they returned home, had a quick wash, had dinner and socialised in a jolly way over a few beers. Their wives would be – for the most part, though not universally – content, because Tutsi property was thoroughly looted and distributed according to the individual efficiency and ruthlessness of the killers. One of the most haunting things in this book, if it is possible to pick anything out in particular, is that many of the victims did not so much as cry out when caught by the murderous genocidaires: they died in complete silence, as if speech and the human voice were now completely worthless, redundant, beside the point. I have often wondered why the people went into the gas chambers silently, without fighting back, but I suppose that when you witness absolute human evil committed by the people with whom you once lived, and who, at least metaphysically, are just like you, you see no point in the struggle for existence. Non existence, perhaps, seems preferable to existence.”

A young Norman Mailer

The British doctor is Ted Dalrymple, and he tells another story in his book – this one about American author Norman Mailer. Norman was a leftist, and he was impressed with a criminal who wrote him from jail where he was serving a sentence of up to 19 years for killing another inmate. Mailer was taken with the criminal (Jack Abbott)’s prose style, and the fact that Abbott was a communist who believed the American penal system was worse than that of the Soviet Union. Mailer supported Abbott’s bid for parole, and Abbott was released. Abbott had a book published, and became the lion of the New York literary scene for six weeks, after which he stabbed a young waiter to death.
In his first book, Abbot had described how prisoners take revenge in prisons.

An excerpt from that follows:
“You are both alone in his cell…The enemy is smiling and chattering away about something..He thinks you’re his fool: he trusts you…A light pivot…you have sunk the knife to its hilt into the middle of his chest….He will say “Why?” or “No!”. Nothing else…. They always whisper one thing at the end: “Please.”

Dalrymple says that it would have been wise to take these words literally, but “Mailer lived in a world (that of radical politics protected by a bourgeois order) in which words never really meant what they said… in which moral exhibitionism was the highest good.”

Ten years later Mailer said that the Abbott episode was not one of which he was proud. Abbott wound up killing himself in jail – maybe the brief six weeks of fame – surrounded by endless years in jail got to him. Maybe he felt sorry for himself.

I remember vaguely reading (but I don’t have the source) that the Japanese doctors in World War II who did such horrible things as dissecting Chinese prisoners alive were also sorry for themselves after the war when they ran into roadblocks with their careers.

1. Ted Dalrymple is the doctor, and his book is Anything Goes.

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