In the little model of the world we carry in our heads, malice is synonymous with stupidity. Example. I was told recently of an English man who took heat on Twitter for defending immigrants and having a Polish wife. Supposedly, he was sullying the purity of English blood. Of course, English blood is about as “dirty” as it gets. We were ruled by Romans; peoples from northern Germany and southern Denmark invaded and settled in their wake; then came Viking raids and townships; after that, we were conquered by the Normans. Not to mention the racial and cultural crossovers that occurred during the times of the Tudors and Stuarts, as a result of British imperial ambitions and achievements, and as a consequence of globalisation and modern technology.
Like me, you probably think that champions of the purity of a particular blood or heritage are dumb. And they are. Incredibly so. But at the same time, it’s a mistake to extrapolate and think that all malicious people are stupid. Racism, I’ll concur, is dumb. But not all racists are of sub-normal intelligence. Some are smart; smarter than you or I. As are some who despise those of African or Asian descent.
We see storify reality. We imagine that the intelligent and the enlightened are on our side. That there can be no match for the ferocious virtue of the warriors who fight in the name of freedom, justice, equality and truth. Yet they do meet their match. Every day. For every Sherlock on our team, there’s a Moriarty taking the field. For every Batman, there’s a slew of Banes and Jokers. For every silent warrior, there’s a silent villain of near-equal or greater capacity.
I don’t mean to scare you. And I’m not simply trying to persuade myself either. But as I age, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the chief weapon in the fight for human rights and global enlightenment is not law, social incentives, power or utilitarian logic. It is the eradication of delusion and the stripping away of false narratives. And this is one such delusion, one false story that we all tell ourselves; the malicious are stupid. Sorry, but they aren’t. More often than we’d like to admit, they are terrifyingly smart.