Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hannah Arendt's "The Banality of Evil": Things Haven't Changed in 50 Years

Much debate in the U.S. boils down to whether domestic matters such as health care or social security should be prioritized or whether international issues are more important. Most people opt for the former. I place myself in the latter category. There are various reasons for this, among them the fact that military spending blocks the effort to improve the lives of people in the U.S. But there’s another reason which is ethical. Some may have already seen this video of the Baghdad airstrikes which Chelsea Manning turned over to Wikileaks. One thing is to read about what happened, another thing is to watch it on your screen and hear the voices and see the images. I just came across it as a link in a NY Times article (about the hacker Adrian Lamo) I was reading. Here it is:  

Watching it what comes to my mind is what Hannah Arendt (as a journalist working out of Jerusalem) said about Eichmann (which the Israeli establishment didn’t like at all). Evil people are not only madmen like Hitler. They’re also “normal” people (bureaucrats among others) who sit behind desks and talk a normal language with a normal voice pitch. Arendt called it the “banality of evil.” This is an example of that.


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