Let’s meet Jonathan (not his real name). Jonathan is three degrees of separation away from me, which is plenty close enough for him to show up in my social media circles. Jonathan, presumably, has many other qualities, but the only quality of his I saw was that he was defending a bigot.
It doesn’t matter which bigot. Let’s say it’s Franklin Graham. Graham’s “charity” helped fund a “68-bed respiratory unit” in Central Park, in New York City to treat covid-19 patients. It also has a catch:
Anyone who volunteers to help must sign off on a Christian faith statement that, in Graham’s case, includes a clause that says you reject same-sex marriages (and the existence of transgender people)…. when your mission is to help people who are suffering, there’s reasonable concern over whether LGBTQ people will be given proper treatment in these facilities given the inherent bigotry of the Christians who work with Graham’s group.Patheos
“So Jonathan’s a bad dude,” I said to our mutual acquaintance.
“No, not really,” they replied. “He’s generally a nice guy, he just supports that bigot.”
Which really got me thinking. Maybe Jonathan is good in other areas of his life. But he enthusiastically supports a bigot, even as Jonathan claims he isn’t bigoted against LGBT people himself. And that’s the crux of it:
Can someone be a “good” person when they’re supporting someone who isn’t?
This isn’t the same thing as saying they’re irredeemable. People can change (though it’s hard work, and it’s rare to see someone put forth the effort). I’m asking whether the person right now, the one who is actively enabling these evil things can be a “good” person?
It’s a timely and relevant question.
I think bad people can be polite, absolutely. I think they can do good things, sometimes. I think they can change and become more empathetic. I don’t think “evil” is an immutable condition.
But if you support an evil person – hell, if you just allow evil to exist unopposed – can you really claim to be “good”?
For a funny – and touching – way of looking at this, I highly recommend Jojo Rabbit to pass the time of your quarantine. Well worth the price to rent or own.