It passed with the usual shrug by the usual handmaidens of hatred when the president of the world's most powerful democracy threatened to commit war crimes by bombing Iranian cultural sites — the kind of barbarism practiced by the Taliban and rogue-state thugs.
After being told that he would be in violation of Geneva Convention rules that the United States had helped to create back when America was actually great, President Donald Trump relented, but still wondered: Why not?
The warlord-in-chief had already gone out of his way to protect a Navy SEAL member who'd been accused of committing war crimes. And what kind of man did the president upend the military code of justice for?
"The guy is freaking evil," one fellow SEAL told investigators, referring to Special Operations chief Edward Gallagher, who was convicted of posing with the corpse of a teenage boy who'd been killed in his custody. After the presidential intervention, the formerly shamed serviceman was posing at Mar-a-Lago.
On any given day, Trump is vindictive, ignorant, narcissistic, a fraud — well, his pathologies are well known. But it's time to apply the same word to him as the brave Navy man did to the renegade in his unit. Under Trump, the United States is a confederacy of corruption, driven by a thousand points of evil. And that evil is contagious.
We all grew up hearing an ageless warning about public morality: that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.
The presumed outcome is reassuring, a story we tell ourselves. But in the last three years, that homily has been proven right, in the country where it was not supposed to happen. The Trump presidency has shown just how many ostensibly good people will do nothing, and how evil, when given a free rein at the top, trickles down.
When Trump retweeted a Photoshopped image of the two most important Democratic leaders of Congress dressed in Islamic garb in front of the Iranian flag, there was no chorus of condemnation from his side. For Trump, it was just another Monday.
Was it politics, or evil, when candidate Trump smeared a Gold Star family in 2016?
Was it mere theatrics to revel in a chant of "Lock her up," about Hillary Clinton, who has now been exonerated, twice, by federal investigators?
Trump has so desensitized us that a day without a round of blunt force cruelty from the White House is newsworthy. And now it all comes to a boil in the impeachment trial. The facts are not in dispute: Trump tried to force a struggling democracy into doing his political dirty work for him.
In the process of this high crime, Trump broke the law, as a nonpartisan congressional watchdog reported Thursday. The greater evil is the violation of the lofty purpose written into this country's founding documents. The smaller evils are the Republican senators who know the president violated his oath and deserves to be impeached, but don't have the guts to say so.
"Do not, as my party did, underestimate the evil, desperate nature of evil, desperate people," writes Rick Wilson, the Republican operative and witty Never-Trumper, in "Running Against the Devil," his new book. "There is no bottom. There is no shame. There are no limits."
As for the contagion of evil, you need not look far. In Texas this month, Gov. Greg Abbott said his state would become the first to refuse to take in even a small number of legal, fully vetted refugees.
When the hate flag is flying, most of Trump's followers have stood up and saluted.
Here's the two-step that all good people must take now: First, realize the level of depravity that has taken over the White House, and second, fight accordingly.
"Do not come to this fight believing that the Trump team views any action, including outright criminality, as off limits," writes Wilson. This doesn't mean you have to cheat, lie, or coerce. But it means you do have to fight, or be counted among the do-nothings who allowed evil to flourish.
The New York Times