Eichmann wasn’t some overt Jew hater, he was just a normal dude during his job. Had he lived in a different time, he would have lived an ordinary and unremarkable life. Similarly, Bill Maher isn’t a racist.
What is Good Corrective Action for Racist Behavior?
Emma Lindsay
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I find this to be an alarmingly specious comparison that is not unlike throwing around “Trump is Hitler” comments. I see that you have rooted this claim in Hannah Arendt’s problematic but eminently quotable notion of the “banality of evil.” One issue is that Arendt overlooks Eichmann’s capacity for duplicity and “who me?” behavior; another is the amount of criticism that Arendt received. Last, your characterization of Eichmann in Jerusalem is watered down. One of the central points of the text isn’t that Eichmann — a senior SS officer — was an “ordinary” guy, but that “evil” isn’t some Grendel-like monster that crawls out of the fen.

Moreover, Eichmann was not appointed to the Ministry of Propaganda (as if Maher is some kind of propagandist by showing what an inept and whiny little shit Milo is); Maher does not advance a genocidal ideology; and, again, Eichmann was an “overt Jew hater.” Among the myriad academic texts on this subject, I recommend Claude Lanzmann’s “The Last of the Unjust” that outlines one of the Judenrat’s (Benjamin Murmelstein’s) direct and horrifying experiences with Eichmann — and who was subsequently alienated from the Jewish community despite his attempts to undermine the Nazis in a truly impossible situation. You might also consider reading Primo Levi’s extraordinary accounts how notions of “evil” and a “victims” versus “perpetrators” mindset oversimplifies (the most “banal” term I can think of) human relationships (and “nature”) in times of inconceivable crisis.

Of course, complacency on the part of “apolitical” or even liberal members of society is dangerous in times like these — and in times that led up to times like these. Holocaust platitudes, however, are even more dangerous since they compare institutional discrimination to genocide.

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