Friday, October 2, 2015

The Banality of our Responses to Evil

I've read that there are some who feel that Hannah Arendt, in referring to "the banality of evil" in her book regarding Eichmann in Israel, fiddled somewhat with the facts and the record to better support the accuracy of that neat little phrase describing what took place in Nazi Germany.  It wouldn't be the first time someone has altered facts to support a theory, or arrived at a theory and found facts, or something less than factual, to support it.

Arendt's taste in men may certainly be questioned in light of her fondness for her morally and physically repulsive seducer, Heidegger.  But what I've read of her work seems to me to indicate she was sensible and insightful in various other respects, so I reserve judgment on her claim about evil specifically as it relates to what took place in the twelve years the Nazis ruled Germany and wrecked havoc on Europe and its non-Germanic peoples.  I think, though, that evil need not be banal and often is not banal.  What seems clearly banal is our response to it here in God's favorite country.

The statements we're hearing from the media and the politicians and pundits who beset us regarding the deaths and injuries in Oregon due to the shootings at a community college yesterday are examples of this banality.  What is being said is determined by the political stance of the person/entity making the statement, and is easily inferred once that stance is known.  The stance is already known, of course, in many cases.  There are calls for more gun laws.  There are calls for more guns.  There are calls for more people carrying more guns.  There are claims current laws are not being enforced.  There are claims that no existing laws would have prevented the violence, and that no other laws will, or that other laws which would succeed in preventing gun violence cannot be adopted as they would violate the Second Amendment. 

I've made it clear already in this place that I think those in charge of the NRA (not necessarily all those who are members of it) are mere shills for the gun manufacturing industry, and so are interested primarily if not solely in the selling of all guns which are manufactured by that industry.   I've also made it clear I feel that those who believe the Second Amendment establishes an absolute right to bear arms of any kind are foolish if not deluded, and that those who think the government is plotting to take away their firearms are clearly deluded.

I've also noted I think those who feel that if teachers and other "regular" people carry guns (i.e. not merely police and other law enforcement offices) they will be able to protect themselves and others indulge in a fantasy.  Trained law enforcement personnel have problems with accurately shooting firearms.  Untrained people involved in a tense and frightful situation like a firefight will more likely be a danger to anyone near them than to a determined shooter. 

As well rely on Elmer Fudd coming to the rescue.

But I don't want to dwell on these arguments.  Instead, I write regarding the numbingly stupid, futile, ordinary, predictable nature of the debate which takes place after one of these sadly frequent events.  Fox News, which always may be relied on to say something silly, seems to be characterizing this event as part of the "War Against Christianity" it keeps maintaining is taking place.  Indeed, what else would it say under the circumstances?  Certainly nothing which is not superficial and not good for a headline.

Some pathetic, deranged, perhaps narcissistic loser/loner has firearms and uses them against others and away we go, off on the merry-go-round of rhetoric.  Though all those involved in the posturing which takes place are banal in their response, one can at least sympathize with those who seek an answer, who want some king of substantive response to be made.  Those who say such things just happen, or sell more guns, however, are despicable in their complacency and presumption.

I'm now a gun owner.  I have a shotgun, with which I try to blow flying clay discs out of the air.  It's a pastime requiring a certain skill, and which I enjoy.  I don't feel that in owning a shotgun I'm exercising some sacred right, however.  I find the thought of using my shotgun to defend myself from a tyrannical government laughable.  My ownership of a firearm has not imbued me with the desire that all should own one, or the belief that they should not be regulated.  Why should it?

Tired rhetoric is no effective response to evil, but it's the only response we seem to have to evil of this kind.  What does it say about our country when murder and massacre are grounds only for more of the same posturing?

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