Putdown of the year


State Department spokesperson opens a whole can of sarcasm on Faux News hack.

I’m glad to see the administration’s willingness to get beyond “civility” and tell the truth where needed. As Nietzsche said, it’s not only inhuman to bless in return for cursing, it’s not even really polite.

When, however, ye have an enemy, then return him not good for evil: for that would abash him. But prove that he hath done something good to you.

And rather be angry than abash any one! And when ye are cursed, it pleaseth me not that ye should then desire to bless. Rather curse a little also!

Also Sprach Zarathustra, XIX


  1. Larry Lennhoff says

    I’ve heard this attributed to Lao Tze “One cannot return good for evil, for then what would one return for good? Return good for good, for evil return justice.”

    • Mark Kleiman says

      It’s not in the Tao-te Ching, the only text attributed to the (possibly mythical) Lao-tse. (The name means something like “Old Master.”) And it doesn’t sound Taoist to me. Consider this a bleg for the source.

      • ALincoln says

        Mr Lennhoff’s quote is from the Lunyu XIV, 14, although the translation he cites is not very accurate. The Chinese does not speak of “good” and “evil”, but rather of “excellence/virtue” and “hostility/blame”. I suspect that this is the passage from the Lunyu that has been most distorted by Western translators trying to find grounds for a comparison with Jesus. You can find the original text and three translations here:


  2. Colin says

    In my experience, if someone is itching for a fight, nothing enrages them more than a (superficially) polite and gracious response. There are some great phrases out there for this purpose, like “thank you for your concern” and “we apologise for any inconvenience caused”.

  3. Freeman says

    It’s no less sad when those on the left consider their political opponents to be “enemies” rather than the fellow compatriots with different viewpoints that the really are, than it is when the right does it (which they do — a lot). There is considerable science supporting the notion that symbolic status competition is counter-productive for all involved.

    • Ebenezer Scrooge says

      You’re mostly right, but not quite. Lefties–morally deficient softies that we are–are likely to consider an “enemy” to be a person much like us with whom we have irreconciliable differences that cannot be ignored. Righties–who live in a morally more complex environment–supplement this by viewing their enemies as evil. This doesn’t make much difference during a time of conflict, but does mean that lefties are more prone to subsequent reconciliation and compromise once it seems feasible. (See Lincoln, Abraham.)

  4. Byomtov says

    I dimly recall that some rabbis, in discussing the notion of “turning the other cheek,” claimed that it is not just not virtuous, but actually wrong to do so. The argument is that it is wrong to tolerate an injustice, even if you yourself are the victim.