“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal.” ― Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
How could a nation as advanced as Germany at the turn of the last century, embrace or even tolerate the tyranny of National Socialism? Why did German citizens, many of them sophisticated, so easily conform to and participate in the rabid antisemitic worldview of Adolf Hitler?
Can something similar happen again today in America?
History tends to focus on the sinister leaders of WWII: Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, and Adolf Eichmann. These malevolent men were only part of the equation. The state- sponsored ghettos, concentration camps, and systematic murders of more than six million Jews would not have been possible without the tolerance and participation of the German people.
This is the issue of the banality of evil. How ordinary people can become instruments of wickedness against fellow citizens.
Reporting for the New Yorker in 1961, Hannah Arendt wrestled with this issue during post-WWII interviews with Otto Adolf Eichmann. Before the war, Eichmann was a simple traveling salesman. So how did he transform into the chief Nazi SS architect of the “Final Solution”?
Arendt’s assessment might surprise you. She noted that she described Eichmann as “neither perverted nor sadistic” but “terrifyingly normal”.
Here is some background. Prior to WWII, the prospect of a once peaceful, productive people inflicting inhumanity on mankind again through obedience to a tyrannical government seemed implausible.
The shattered post-World War I German economy was ripe ground for a socialist government to offer attractive solutions to a struggling people. With hyperinflation, vast unemployment, and desperation among working class people, the Nazi Party funded public projects and work schemes might have seemed like a good idea. Throw in public animosity against a struggling democracy, and you had the beginnings of the Third Reich.
Once Germans came under the Nazi spell, demonizing the Jewish people by creating a climate of hostility towards them followed.
America and our allies at the time took a decisive stand against the evil spreading across Europe. This fact makes it all the more shocking that the poison of National Socialism is so prevalent in America today.
We are seeing in real time our own government lull Americans to sleep with mass welfare, bailouts, spiraling government spending, and healthcare mandates – all instituted by “experts”.
Progressives tested the theory of controlling American lives during the COVID-19 pandemic while also weaponizing the federal government against a certain segment of our population. It proved so successful that corporate board members and everyday citizens are now submitting to, tolerating, and even participating in this wicked scheme.
While the silence of progressive politicians embracing the tyranny imposed on our liberty during the pandemic was stunning, radical Members of Congress promoting antisemitism is disgusting. Their puppets are leftovers from Antifa and the Black Lives Matter movements masquerading as pro-Palestinians. They are following with their eyes wide shut; promulgating protests in support of Hamas while attempting to justify the horrific actions of October 7th.
Unfortunately, the potential for this horrible point in human history repeating itself no longer seems farfetched. Shockingly, while America was largely responsible for the demise of National Socialism after WWII, our government may now be a catalyst for the re-emergence of the banality of evil, where ordinary citizens yield to its tyranny. Can it happen here?