“It was as though in those last minutes he (Eichmann) was summing up the lessons that this long course in human wickedness had taught us the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil” -Hannah Arendt
The banality of evil. When Hannah Arendt wrote of Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem she painted him as entirely average, not particularly hateful, and committed wholly to the notion that he was following orders. Randall Terry is not analogous to Adolf Eichmann for a number of reasons, but Arendt’s famous (and, frankly, now over-used) phrase was one of the first things that occurred to me this morning after I attended (and protested) his press conference in Topeka proposing a filibuster of Sotomayor.
Terry’s banality comes in his manner. He does not (or did not today) come off as a lunatic or an idiot. He is not on the corner of the street warning of the apocalypse with an overgrown beard and loincloth. He’s personable, has a sense of humor, and is well spoken. He is smart, too. But make no mistake, he is extreme, he is fanatical, even most anti-choice people don’t want anything to do with him, and his rhetoric is dangerous. I suppose that what follows is not an outright iteration of why I think this is true, I think most people who read this blog already hold the position that abortion ought to be legal, that it is classless and dangerous to call health care providers “mass murderers” and compare abortion to the Holocaust, not to mention his thoughts on homosexuality and Islam. Rather, I want to sort of describe and comment on my experience.