- - Thursday, January 5, 2017

Evil is more than something in the eye of the beholder, and someone who can’t recognize evil when he sees it reveals a lot about who he is and where he comes from.

Some of the reaction in high places to the horrific kidnapping and physical abuse of a mentally deprived 18-year-old white youth by four black youths — two young men and two young women — this week in Chicago is more shocking than the hate crime itself.

The particulars of the crime are brutal, bordering on gruesome: the young white man was abducted in a Chicago suburb, forced into a stolen van, taken to an apartment on the West Side of Chicago, where he was beaten, slashed, bound and gagged with duct tape, and tortured over two days. He was finally released, bleeding, naked and disoriented, where the police found him wandering on the frozen streets of Chicago, not knowing who he was or where he was.

The police quickly found his captors, who were proud of their hatred. They had made videos of the torture sessions, in which he was forced to drink from a toilet, and posted the videos on social media. The videos show him, with a knife at his throat, forced under pain of death to cry out “f—- Trump” and “f—- white people.” In one of the videos of the youth being forced to drink from the toilet, a voice is heard yelling, “drink that s—- now! Drink the toilet water, b———! Say f—- Trump! Say f—- Trump!”

The pain, the squalor and the humiliation of the crime were enough to sicken Chicago policemen who thought they had seen everything. “It’s sickening,” said Eddie Johnson, the superintendent of Chicago police. “It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that. I’ve been a cop for 28 years, and I’ve seen things you shouldn’t see in a lifetime, but it still amazes me how you still see things that you just shouldn’t.”

The superintendent, a black man, was astonished, like millions of newspaper readers and television watchers across the country, by the pure hatred that could drive such evil. But not everyone was so sickened and disgusted.

Don Lemon, the CNN anchor and talkfest host, told his cable-TV audience, “I don’t think it’s evil. I think these are young people and I think they have had bad home training.” Mr. Lemon, who raises legitimate questions about his own “home training,” might think “evil” was the hangover he woke up with after he got spectacularly drunk on camera at a New Year’s Eve broadcast from New Orleans.

One of his CNN guests thought that torturing “someone who is mentally disabled … makes it even more sickening.” But another guest put it in the proper mainstream media context. Symone Sanders, a Democratic strategist and onetime press spokesman for Bernie Sanders, said the attack was “not a hate crime” if the suspects were motivated only by “hate of Donald Trump.”

The White House said it was too early to say whether the atrocity was a hate crime.

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