Can An Evil Man Be A Decent Person?

Saddam Hussein

USAF (CC0)

Original Air Date: 
July 30, 2017
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How can someone be a monster — a brutal dictator, a mass murderer, a serial killer — and up close seem like a decent, caring person? In this hour, we tackle a complicated question: what happens when our moral categories fail and we find ourselves feeling empathy for monsters? Is that wrong? And what does it say about us?

The Trial of Saddam

The young American soldiers who protected Saddam Hussein during his trial spent hours alone with the “Butcher of Baghdad” and unexpectedly grew to like him. They were devastated by his execution and its violent aftermath. More

Length: 
20:53
"The Nazi and the Barber" by Edgar Hilsenrath

Paul Beatty, the Booker Prize Winning Author of “The Sellout"" recommends "The Nazi and the Barber,” a novel by Holocaust survivor Edgar Hilsenrath. More

Length: 
2:15
Norwegian memorial

In 2011, nearly 70 teenagers were shot and killed in Norway. The gunman was a white supremacist named Anders Breivik. Journalist Asne Seierstad spent years trying to figure out how someone could do something so evil. More

Length: 
10:59
basketball rivals

During basketball camp in Fargo, North Dakota, cultural critic Chuck Klosterman made an enemy — for life. And maybe that was a bad idea.More

Length: 
3:37
Books and a figure

There’s a theory that reading fiction helps us learn to understand other people — and in the process, become kinder, better, more empathetic ourselves.More

Length: 
10:01
"My Friend Dahmer" by Derf Backderf

What do you do when your buddy in high school turns out to be the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer?More

Length: 
3:03