I know what you're thinking. In both trilogies, the Sith are clearly evil. They made the Death Star for crying out loud. Anakin killed all those little Jedi children. It's called the Dark Side for a reason. How could they possibly be anything but evil?
Those are all valid points. But that's because the story is told from the point of view of the Jedi. History is told by the winners, and the Jedi definitely won (at least in the original trilogy). So they got to tell their story. But what about the story from the point of view of the Sith? How would they tell their story?
For starters, the'd mention how the leader of the galaxy, Emperor Palpatine (at the time he was the chancellor), was a Sith leader. If he was able to watch over the galaxy, then that proves the Sith are capable of being in charge.
I get it, that is faulty logic. But they could twist it around. They could say that Darth Maul wasn't supposed to attack. He was just supposed to watch from afar and gather intel. But, instead, went rogue and attacked. In the same hand, they could blame Obi-Wan for Darth Maul's death. Despite the Jedi saying Maul had attacked them, the Sith could say it was not the Jedi's call. He belonged to the Sith and they deserved the ability to punish him for that betrayal.
As for Chancellor Palpatine, he earned his place. He was voted into that position, it may seem staged. But he was still voted in.
Palpatine could have wanted Anakin under his wing knowing that he could be the Chosen One - the one that is supposed to bring balance to the force. He could be trying to help Annakin if the Jedi failed in their attempts. It was the Jedi who had seen the Sith as a threat and caused all the death and destruction that followed.
Now, for clarification, I'm not saying that I agree with any of this. I'm just saying that this is what the Sith might say about it.
The creation of the clone army and the Death Star were done as precautions for possible dangers. I know that that may seem a little unnecessary. But an army isn't always a bad thing. Sure, doing it in secret is. But it's not the first time it's happened and been disregarded by the general public (for the most part) because it stopped a war (the Manhattan Project, for example).
Lastly, Episode III ends with the destruction of all Jedi because Palpatine believes they are a threat that the universe can live without. Maybe not the idea of the light side is entirely awful, no, but the current order of the Jedi is too much for the Universe to live through.
Palpatine takes Anakin as his apprentice because he still believes that Anakin is the Chosen One. Capable of bringing peace and order to the force. And to do so, Anakin would need to fully trust Palpatine and feel no connection to anyone else, including his children and late wife. So that is why Palpatine informs him that it was he who killed Anakin. To protect the future of the galaxy.
So, in the prequels, though the movies were rather awful, the goal was not to destroy the Jedi, but to build up precautions.
Now as for the original trilogy, The Galactic Empire has to deal with rebels. Now, we have a soft spot for rebels for a number of reasons (The American Revolution, The French Revolution, the fall of Soviet Russia, etc.) So, naturally, we mentally root for the rebels, whether we notice it or not. It's also easier for us to understand a corrupt government causing rebellions and not just some insane people deciding they don't want to live under the rule of their current government.
But what if that's all it really was? It's understandable why the Death Star was used. As I'd mentioned earlier, this use was similar to the atom bombs. Though highly controversial, it would be hard to argue that it didn't save more lives than it ended. It can still be argued, but it'd be hard.
That also explains why they were going to kill Princess Leia. She was a known rebel leader and icon. If they took her out of the picture, it would send a direct message to the rebels left alive.
Luke was going to be spared for the same reasons Anakin was spared. It was highly likely that the presence sensed within Anakin was a precursor for Luke. Anakin is his father, after all. It makes sense.
Why not save Leia? Her force sensitivity was not explored fully in depth until the end of the movies. And even then, it was only hinted at. She didn't have her skills developed, so it was unlikely she would be the Chosen One.
Palpatine's aim was still to bring balance to force, and as a result, the galaxy. It only failed because he didn't make the best choices. But when does anyone ever make the best decisions, especially an old coot like Emperor Palpatine?
Lastly, outside of the movies. I want to take a look at the Jedi and Sith codes for comparison on this point.
First up (because it's on the left) the Jedi code.
"There is no emotion, there is peace." What? Really? No emotion? They're asking me to not get angry, sad, happy, excited, scared, tired, anxious, nervous, envious, or surprised? Not gonna happen, buddy. I'm human. What do you expect out of me? I can't just shut it off like a switch.
"There is no ignorance, there is knowledge." I'd like to think I'm a smart person, but I don't know everything. No one does.
"There is no passion, there is serenity." If you couldn't tell from my emotion rant, I'm a pretty emotional person and there's a lot of passion behind that emotion, too. And I have passion for the things I'm good at (drawing, video games, sports, making macaroni and cheese from scratch, being sarcastic). I couldn't just ignore all that as a Jedi.
"There is no chaos, there is harmony." You can't have one without the other. It's just like light and dark.
"There is no death, there is the force." Clearly people die. I get that you feel everyone's energy is passed on to the force and that's how they're able to continue on. I get it, I do, really. But people will still mourn someone's death (oh look, another emotion).
Now that I've ripped that apart, let's look at the Sith code.
"Peace is a lie, there is only passion." Peace can be attained. And it can be attained with passion. Of course there is still chaos and trouble and conflict, but there is still the possibility of peace.
"Through passion, I gain strength." This can be true. Not always, but it can. Sometimes passion, gets the best of you, however. Your anger can take you over and destroy you (i.e. Darth Vader).
"Through strength, I gain power." This can't really be refuted (though someone will definitely prove me wrong). No weak person has ever gained power. Maybe physically, weak, yes, but they have another strength that gets them their power.
"Through power, I gain victory." This is true as well. Victory can come from other avenues. But power will get you victory. Sure, power hungry people normally fall short, but that's because there is a greater power out there. One that wants them out of the picture.
"Through victory, my chains are broken." Freedom can be gained by victory. Actually, it almost always is. Freedom itself is a victory.
"The force shall set me free." This specific line here speaks to Anakin very well. He was a slave. And due to his ability with the force, he was no freed.
Now, I don't know bout you, but the Sith code just seems a bit better than the Jedi code. And not just because of my analysis. I've always thought it made more sense.
The Sith are not evil. They are misunderstood (cue collective groan/awe from the naysayers and open-minded people). The Jedi aren't necessarily evil, either. They are two halves of the same coin, both aiming for some sort of balance between the two. We just never knew it.
What do you think?