In 1961, famed philosopher Hannah Arendt covered the trial of Adolph Eichmann for the New Yorker.
Eichmann was the Nazi operative responsible for organizing the transport of millions of of Jews and others to concentration camps in support of the Hitler’s Final Solution.
The remarkable thing is that Arendt found Eichmann to be a bland, bureaucrat who was “neither perverted nor sadistic” but “terrifying normal”.
Her reporting was eventually turned into a book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.
Arendt concluded that Eichmann performed his evil deeds without evil intentions. He “never realized what he was doing” because he could not think from the “standpoint of somebody else”.
Thus, Arendt concluded one can do evil things without necessarily being evil.
It’s a frightening thought, because we are seeing evil acts being perpetrated every day by police, bylaw officers and even minor bureaucrats.
The acts of evil, to be sure, are nothing on the scale of the Final Solution. But at their root the thoughtless actions of petty tyrants are just as evil.
In some cases, the evil becomes a gross parody in and of itself.
Take the case of the poor teenage girl who was confronted by police with weapons drawn on May 4 in Lethbridge, Alberta.
According to the official report, police were called to a parking lot to investigate someone brandishing a weapon.
Upon arrival, the police saw someone in a Star Wars stormtrooper costume with a toy gun.
The Star Wars character was promoting the reopening of the Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina restaurant.
It was May 4 – a day revered by fans of the movie series because of a lame association with the series’ catch phrase “May the force be with you.” May the fourth….
Now, one would have thought that when the officers saw the costumed character, the restaurant and noted the day, they would have put two and two together and realized there was no threat.
Nope, the police decided to do this one by book. It was hands up, get on the ground and cuff her, Danyo.
In the process of subduing the perp, the teenage girl inside the costume suffered a bloody nose.
The Lethbridge cops rolling on that call were not evil, nor did they likely intend to do evil, but still they perpetrated an evil.
This girl suffered bodily harm and has been traumatized for life.
The Lethbridge police had no appreciation of the girl as a person. It was all done by the book and with bureaucratic efficiency.
Had the officers employed just a modicum of common sense and stopped and thought this one out for just one second, the incident could have made a funny story and everyone could have had a good laugh.
But as Arendt observed the root of evil lies in the banal.
If you enjoy my work, please consider dropping me a tip. It encourages me to continue fighting for common sense and reason. Any amount is appreciated. My Tip Jar.