The Evil of Banality

In a book published in 1963, Hannah Arendt immortalized an expression that since has become the signature line to describe a person who commits acts of prodigious evil simply in the process of following orders. The individual in question was Adolf Eichmann, whose trial resulted in her treatment titled, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Eichmann was banal, all right; in fact, as alluded to in T. S. Eliot's famous poem, "The Hollow Men," he resembled Mister Kurtz in Joseph Conrad's chilling Heart of Darkness -- "hollow at the core." Which did not prevent him from carrying out horrific acts befitting a moral cypher whose only defense was "do not judge me." Such a sentiment, along with a reverse formulation of Arendt's famous line, lurk beneath the responses of those called to testify before Congress to justify their behaviors in the three scandals currently being investigated by outraged Republicans as well as a smattering of concerned and perhaps embarrassed...(Read Full Article)

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