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Pure Evil

C. Gourgey, Ph.D.

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty.”
Bertrand Russel, Unpopular Essays

A father’s final good-bye to his family
A frame from “Complicit,”
Republican anti-immigrant ad

“Now Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants” states the latest Republican campaign ad, embellished by a brand of “Pure Evil” over the face of Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented immigrant accused of killing two Sacramento police.(1)

When a party can’t win an issue on merit, its only remaining resort is fear. Persecution of marginalized groups throughout history has been accompanied by the spreading of stories intended to make people afraid. Tagging undocumented immigrants with the labels of “rapist” and “murderer” is today’s new blood libel.

In fact, studies have shown that both legal and illegal immigrants commit less violent crime than native-born Americans.(2)(3) One can always find a deviant person in any group; it does not justify portraying the entire group, and by extension their whole ethnicity, as a subhuman threat to civilization. The use of fear to maintain power is the mainstay of every authoritarian, anti-democratic regime. And this is now what we are in danger of becoming.

We need to remember that this new Republican weed sprang forth in the midst of a dispute about DACA, protection for people who were brought to this country as young children and who have made something of themselves. They are not Bracamontes. Most of them are responsible and productive, exactly the kind of people we need to ensure a future for this country. Now Republicans want the public to associate them with killers. So blood will be on Democrats’ hands for every diploma that they earn and every useful thing they produce.

We need to remember the fate of people living under any regime that maintained itself by fomenting racial and ethnic hatred - that tagged some people as desirable and others as undesirable, and won the loyalty of the desirables by imprisoning and expelling the undesirables. Examples are too numerous to mention.

What would be a good way to characterize those regimes?

How about “Pure Evil”?


(1) Jennifer Hansler, “Trump Campaign Releases Ad Tying Democrats to Murders by Undocumented Immigrants,” CNN.com, January 20, 2018.

(2) Alex Nowrasteh, “Immigration Myths - Crime and the Number of Illegal Immigrants,” CNN.com, March 20, 2017.

(3) Chris Nichols, “MOSTLY TRUE: Undocumented Immigrants Less Likely to Commit Crimes than U.S. Citizens,” PolitiFact, August 3, 2017.

January 2018