The Atlantic

How 'Evil' Became a Conservative Buzzword

The left and right rely on different moral languages in the wake of tragedies like the Las Vegas shooting.
Source: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

In the days following the Las Vegas shooting—as its horror has faded from news coverage behind revelations of wildfires and sexual assault and humanitarian disasters—two ideological scripts have emerged. Many conservatives have argued that the shooting is a sign of inherent evil in the world: President Trump, for example, described it as “an act of pure evil.” And a number of Republican politicians pushed back on the immediate calls for gun control, arguing that “you can’t regulate evil.”

Progressives, on the other hand, have blamed the violence on the government’s failure to regulate weapons. These different approaches seem to be more than a rhetorical sleight of hand or a way of escaping a tough policy conversation, and they extend beyond Las Vegas. Both groups have a

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