Posts Tagged ‘holocaust’

I was pushing piles of books from place to place today, when I noticed the binding of my Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Report on the Banality of Evil being pretty much in tatters. I opened it, and for the first time I actually noticed the letter Gershom Sholem sent her after the book was published. Now, while some very valid criticisms have been voiced since (like, I also didn’t understand her obsession with discrediting Hausner, so ummm, and also her frequent remarks about other people being more convincing or articulate than him, not really based on any evidence that was also shown to the reader), I think Sholem’s criticism is way off the mark: never did Arendt blame the victims of the Holocaust, and nowhere did she claim that “Eichmann became a Zionist” – she only remarked ironically that it was how Eichmann wanted to present himself.

It is the last paragraph of Sholem’s letter that seems to me most revealing: Sholem remarks that he regrets that she rejected the previous version of her analysis of evil, an analysis that was “eloquent” and “erudite”, adopting instead the “slogan-like” conclusion about the “banality of evil”. This, Sholem says, he cannot accept: however, he does not give any reasons for that other than the previous analysis being “eloquent”. This because there aren’t any: you can’t argue with facts.

And well: I guess when you’re a philosopher of religion, you don’t deal with facts, you deal with ideas. There’s no better way of putting it: in the end you actually write what sounds good, and what’s eloquent; you don’t write about facts, there’s nothing to check, nothing to verify, and also the voice of your god you hear in your head is your voice, always your voice(1). When you write about ideas, it’s much prettier to write that evil is radical or demonic or something similarly dramatic.

But when you write about facts, you can’t make them pretty; or at least you shouldn’t. And (some of) the facts are:

There was a man in court, his name was Eichmann, he was an SS-man

He did horrid things

He didn’t feel guilty

He wasn’t very smart

He had trouble expressing himself

He portrayed himself as an unlucky person, a victim of circumstances

He lied to the judges, he lied to himself, he lied to everyone, his lies were typically thoughtless self-contradictory denier lies

There was nothing radical or demonic about him

In the end, there can be no doubt that the final conclusion about the banality of evil stands, that there are facts supporting it; even if they aren’t “eloquent”. You could write something prettier and more erudite about it, but why would you, when there’s no need? The facts are more than enough.


(About some of the later criticisms of Arendt: again, I think they’re off the mark: of course, Arendt repeated often how Eichmann often claimed that he was not anti-Semitic, but nowhere did she say that she actually believed him; quite the opposite, she repeatedly stated that he kept bragging and contradicting himself and could not be trusted. He racist remarks however, are completely indefensible)

(Yes, I actually re-read half of the book this morning)


(1) There was a study like that somewhere, too, but I’m too busy to look.


1) Victorian sex survey:

“I opened it up and there were these questionnaires”— questionnaires upon which dozens of women, most born before 1870, had inscribed their most intimate thoughts.

In other words, it was a sex survey. A Victorian sex survey. It is the earliest known study of its type, long preceding, for example, the 1947 and 1953 Kinsey Reports, whose oldest female respondents were born in the 1890s.

2) What can happen to an absolutely priceless artefact during WWII:

Within a few years, he’d pawned the tablet, along with rare coins, to purchase the liquor store, the attorney said. But he soon paid back the pawn broker and reclaimed the coins and tablet.

3) Constance McMillen thing. By now everybody surely must know what happened, so I’ll just point to the account of her school mate about the school mate’s trials and tribulations at the hands of the omnipotent attention-whoring Gay Mafia, pulled straight from the comment the cross-burning ignorant hick’s left at another blog (her name was later pulled from her public Facebook profile, and how stupid you have to be to have a public profile when there’s a bunch of data-hungry lawyers prowling the internet in search of damning evidence? The lawyers who, I hope, do have the Screengrap app). Gee, it’s JUST LIKE In the Grove:

What people are failing to realize is that much of the fault of this whole stink lies with Constance, not her mistreatment by the school district, but her crazy-reckless need for attention. It sounds mean and horrible and like we planned it all specifically to embarrass Constance, but we didn’t. We let her have her prom with her girlfriend and her tuxedo and we went to party it up in the “boondocks” not because we wanted her rights violated, but so we could salvage what has turned into a total fiasco

Well. I can think of someone who’s failing to realize things; it’s not “the people” (whoever they might be).

Also, there are some photos from the no gay, disabled,  and otherwise different folks allowed prom here (again, pulled from Facebook accounts of those involved, and  again, not very smart, I’d say. Good for Constance though).

The most spectacularly failtastic bit of fail comes with this, though:

So, I guess it’s OK for two girls to kiss, as long as they aren’t real lesbians? Very cunning. Also, a girl in the other photo is wearing JEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANS.

I mean, jeans. This is hardcore stuff, guys. Like, a step away from fully fledged lesbianism or something. I’d pray for that girl, just in case.

As usual in cases like that, a plucky internet detective uncovered the Facebook groups those people (that is Itawamba blahblah  Highschool students) belong to and unsurprisingly:

And, if you look at the facebook profiles for the “secret prom” attendees you see the same pages recurring in their profiles:

Greenville Christian School
The Charleston Baptist Congregation
Little Creek Baptist Church
“I’m Proud To Be Christian” by Aaron Chavez Religious Center
Prayer In School Religious Center
I Love Jesus Religious Center
Freedom Rally 2010 “A call to Revival”
Dedicated to Christ
Going to Church Religious Center
God id Love Religious Organization
Jesus Daily Religious Organization
I’m a Christian & I’m Proud Religious Organization
The Resolve Tour Religious Organization
ChristBuild Inc Religious Organization
Christ In Action Non-Profit

CUTE. Clearly, what they need is moar Jesus in their lives OH WAIT-

Also, I personally agree with the following comment made about the latest developments in the Constance McMillen’s prom case:

If they [people who organised the no-;esbians-allowed prom — Sendai] keep digging that hole, they’ll soon be swimming in magma.

Dig faster.

I hope the original commenter will forgive me for quoting her verbatim, but I believe the comment i’s indicative of the attitude a sane person ought to preserve in face of the fail exhibited repeatedly by the Itawamba Highschool students, their parents and teachers, may a concert piano fall on their bigoted heads.

4) (I’m thinking about having a book-by-book reading orgy progress report on Twitter. Hmmm)

Well. Well. Um. Where to start? Should I say that in the ongoing battle between nature vs. nurture I’m siding with the side that will tell me “NO IT’S NOT THE GENES! PAT BUCHANAN HAD HIS CHANCE TO BE A DECENT HUMAN BEING LIKE ALL OF US.


So, well, four days ago (according to my time zone, anyway),  70 years passed since the second World War was started. Some people felt they should write something special to respectfully commemorate the many people who were killed by the Nazis. One of them was Pat Buchanan.

Where by ‘respectfully” I mean “the only thing he forewent to do was to piss on their graves”.

Where do we start? Oh, here:

Six years later, 50 million Christians and Jews had perished.

In Pat’s little world, there are no humans. There are only Jews and Christians. Great work, Pat! Way to go! Way to make it all about religion where in fact it was not.

(ETA: I just located a much longer and much more informative post @ Respectful Insolence. What I didn’t previously know is that apparently the whole “Christians and Jews” rhetoric is often used by Holocaust denialists in order to underplay the fact that what Hitler meant to do was TO EXTERMINATE THE JEWS, and HE ALMOST DID *SNAAAAARL*. Also, it was not about religion. You could have been an atheist Jewish person, a Buddhist Jewish person, you could have even converted to Christianity, AND YOU STILL WOULD HAVE DIED. This is how the Nazis “identified Jews”, see?)

But it only gets worse!

The German-Polish war had come out of a quarrel over a town the size of Ocean City, Md., in summer. Danzig, 95 percent German, had been severed from Germany at Versailles in violation of Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination. Even British leaders thought Danzig* should be returned.

Oh yesssss, that’s definitely it! The war, it had nothing whatsoever to do, with, you know NAZISM! Or RACISM! Or the so-called Lebensraum ideology! And Hitler most certainly did not write a book titled Mein Kampf in 1926. A book that was full of gems such as:

Therefore, I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord’s work.

And nothing about it at all was known before the WWII! Oh no!

Do continue, Pat. It’s so amusing, watching you as you show exactly what sort of disgusting little vile fuckwad you are.

Hitler had never wanted war with Poland, but an alliance with Poland such as he had with Francisco Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy, Miklos Horthy’s Hungary and Father Jozef Tiso’s Slovakia.

YEAH TOTES. Like, an alliance, after he killed half of the Slavs in a large, state-orchestrated ethnic cleansing, and enslaved the rest, at which the Nazis were quite successful, if you look at the body count in the article linked above:

Russia – 26.5 million war related deaths

Poland – official Polish government report of war losses prepared in 1947 reported 6,028,000 war victims out of a population of 27,007,000 ethnic Poles and Jews

BUT HITLER JUST WANTED TO BE FRIENDS WITH THEM SRSLY! HE WANTED AN ALLIANCE**! Pat Buchanan’s views on alliances: be careful, don’t form any with him.

Seriously, there are no words.

* And by the way, Danzig? It’s called Gdańsk, nowadays.

**Not to mention that the Polish junta at the time was most decidedly leftist. They were bloody putting the local Hitler-wannabes in bloody JAILS, you cretin.