Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

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Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that it was nothing more than misfortune that made you a willing instrument in the organization of mass murder; there still remains for the fact that you have carried out, and therefore actively supported, a policy of mass murder. For politics is not like the nursery; in politics obedience and support are the same. And just as you supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people and the people of a number of other nations—as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit the world—we find that no one, that is, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you. That is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang.

That’s Hannah Arendt putting imaginary words into the mouths of Eichmann’s judges at the close of her excellent Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, which I’ve been reading this week. The book inaugurates what looks to be the second theme of my summer reading, following apocalypse: evil. (Next up: Badiou’s Ethics.) The Eichmann trial was one of the most important twentieth-century events I knew almost nothing about, informing everything from the subtext of The Remains of the Day to the trial of Gaius Baltar last season on Battlestar Galactica—so I’m very glad to finally know a little something about it. And Arendt’s book is, again, very, very good—much if not nearly all of the criticism I’ve seen lobbed against it strikes me as without merit.

Eichmann Trial Transcripts

YouTube has your vintage newsreels:

Written by gerrycanavan

June 3, 2007 at 1:32 pm

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