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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Banality of Evil and the Evil of Banality
Created by John Eipper on 06/03/17 10:41 AM

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Banality of Evil and the Evil of Banality (John Heelan, UK, 06/03/17 10:41 am)

In response to Tor Guimaraes (June 3rd), one should also remember Hannah Arendt's book about the Eichmann trial The Banality of Evil, which Wiki describes as "In part, at least, the phrase refers to Eichmann's deportment at the trial as the man displayed neither guilt for his actions nor hatred for those trying him, claiming he bore no responsibility because he was simply 'doing his job' ('He did his duty...; he not only obeyed orders, he also obeyed the law.'") p. 135.

The scary thing is that, under circumstances, we all have an Eichmann inside us. Christoper Browning's book reverses the phrase to The Evil of Banality that describes Reserve Police Battalion 101 ordered to "The conclusion of the book, which was much influenced by the Milgram experiment on obedience, was that the men of Unit 101 were not demons or Nazi fanatics but ordinary middle-aged men of working-class background from Hamburg, who had been drafted but found unfit for military duty. In the course of the murderous Operation Reinhard, these men were ordered to round up Jews, and if there was not enough room for them on the trains, to shoot them. In other, more chilling cases, they were ordered simply to kill a specified number of Jews in a given town or area. In one instance, the commander of the unit gave his men the choice of opting out of this duty if they found it too unpleasant; the majority chose not to exercise that option, resulting in fewer than 15 men out of a battalion of 500 opting out. "

It is frightening that such behaviour was predicted by the Milgram experiment. Goldhagen's book Hitler's Willing Executioners paints a similar picture.

JE comments:  It's surprising that even 15 would "opt out" of participating in the slaughter, as the dissenters were certainly subjected to harassment and mob punishment for their principled stands.

Here's a refresher on the classic Milgram experiments, whereby the "teacher" was encouraged to send electric shocks to a "learner," who was in reality an actor participating in the experiment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment


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