Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston Bombing: The Banality of Evil

Hanah Arendt, commenting on Adolph Eichmann on trial in Israel, reflected on the banality of evil.  The people who carried out Hitler's final solution, for the most part, were not foaming at the mouth fanatics, but ordinary people who simply bought into the Third Reich's notion that killing Jewish babies and Roma was a good thing.

Looking at the images of the two young men suspected of participating in the Boston bombing, a red headed woman on the street was shaken by their ordinariness: "They could be anyone," she said with a shudder. "They look so unremarkable."

Most people seemed to harbor a working hypothesis about their motivations. Mad Dog  assumed they were avenging drone strikes in Afghanistan/Pakistan which have killed innocent villagers. Others have suggested it was some libertarian anti tax group. Each person seems to have a favorite villain, depending on that person's most cherished group to hate.

But what will we do with the information, if it ultimately does come out? If it turns out to be an Afghan out for revenge? Or if it is a latter day Columbine alienated teen ager group?  Or if it is a white supremacist group?  Mad Dog supposes we'll use the information to support our own biases: See, that's where that type of thinking leads to-- the killing of innocent people.

In the end, the result may be a surprise:  Some years ago a sniper shot people in the Washington, DC area in what appeared to be a totally random way. Police were looking for a white guy in a white van. It turned out to be a black man and a black boy firing from the trunk of a dark sedan. The man was out to kill his ex wife, and the other shootings were a ruse. If he had shot only his wife, he would have been the prime suspect, but if he shot her as part of a random shooting spree, she's just another random victim.

Or, we may never know, just as we never knew who sent those Anthrax ladened letters.  Now we have letters to President Obama laced with Ricin. An echo from the past.

Oddly, just days after Boston, a fertilizer plant leveled much of a Texas town. Timothy McVeigh used a fertilizer bomb to level  the federal building in Oklahoma City.  Echos from the past. 

Has Rush Limbaugh had time to say, "Nobody's talking about background checks for people who buy fertilizer" yet? 

We are fortunate to have someone in the Presidency who can rise to these occasions. After eight years of cringing, what a relief to hear from a man who can soar rhetorically, and who can rally our spirits. 

No comments:

Post a Comment