Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Hannah Arendt’s “Banality of Evil” vindicated

A distinguish Emeritus Professor of Law, on the occasion of a new Eichmann film, has set out to trash Hannah Arendt’s “Banality of Evil.”

Arendt’s famous report of the Eichmann trial, at the time, upset a lot of people. They probably did not all understand her idea. And neither does this professor. He calls her, with fancies terms, a liar, pretender and lazy.

He accuses her of being blind to the “brilliant evilness” of the Nazi leaders. He completely misses the main point Arendt makes.

Coming to report on the trial, Arendt expected to see a monster in human form. Instead, she saw and reported something far more shocking. The most wicked people are not a special breed but rather especially ordinary exceptionally normal people gone totally wrong.

The main mistake her readers seemed to make was misunderstanding that she saw their wickedness is banal. She did not. They turned out totally evil but started out life just like you and me. Now that is shocking.

Unimpressive people, not standing out in any way, can be manipulated and enticed to glide off the slippery slope until they become evil itself.

(Not deterred by a fear to be the court case’s enfant terrible, she also attacked cooperation by Jewish Communities with the Nazis (vainly hoping to have a calming effect on the deportations) and the legitimacy of the court case (he was kidnapped, the trial sat politically good for the Zionists, he didn’t do any crime in Israel and he followed German law!).)

Great minds by necessity must be attacked by their less original more traditional contemporaries. Yet, she wrote this so long ago that to still trash her and her brave analysis must stem from laziness or obstinacy.

There is of course nothing wrong with a respectful argument-based attempt to refute her vision. History Prof. Deborah Lipstadt tries that but on substance – not a character assassination for lack of clear objections.

The law professor owes the daring maligned reporter a large apology.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo and Rav Zev Leff. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Many people can't understand or like him because he has such a wide vision that he never fits any specialist's box. But that exactly what others love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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