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Wrong Tomorrow, Wrong Yesterday, but not Today: On Sliding into Evil with Zeal but Without Understanding, 5 Roger Williams U. L. Rev. 19 (1999)


Collaboration with systems of evil-the overall topic of this Symposium-is a problem as fresh as contemporary news accounts. The New York Times recently carried a front-page story about the dilemmas described by young Serbs who were evading military conscription because they understood the evil of Slobodan Milosevic's genocidal policies against the Kosovar Albanians but nonetheless felt a patriotic duty to protect their country against foreign assaults. As one young man put it, '''we'd like to see [Milosevic] hanging.' But ... '[i]f the guys from NATO come here, we will shoot them.'"! As wrenching as this kind of dilemma may be, it is not the problem of collaboration that I want to discuss. My concern is with a more difficult problem, as I see it-a problem that is more insidious and difficult to identify as such. The young Serbian resister knows that his President is an evil man, and he feels the moral conflict between his revulsion at this evil and his patriotic impulses. My concern is for circumstances where the evil is not understood as such by its perpetrators, where they are unaware at the time they are acting of the wrongfulness of the actions in which they are engaged.

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