Monday, November 27, 2017

The Banality of Evil

     Donald Trump is finally right about something. Although it recently won two Pulitzer Prizes, the New York Times failed.
     Two days ago, the NY Times took a lot of heat for this article and for damned good reason. They completely blew it by shifting Overton's Window ever more to the far right in normalizing this neo Nazi in Ohio. A reporter from MoJo, oddly, defended the piece, saying that white supremacists are normal citizens who've always been among us since the Revolutionary War. Their response (not an apology as much as a whiny defense by their national editor) was absolutely pathetic and they weakly made some amendments to the article, including removing the link to it that had already been disseminated all over social media.
      But the Times blew it in not adequately delineating the difference between the outward normality of their lives and abnormality of their thinking. Hardcore white supremacists who are committed to join (or, in this case, to actually found movements) are, thankfully, in the vast minority in this country. While a marginal segment of a national population shouldn't be marginalized just for lack of numbers, we can comfortably make an exception for neo Nazis and white supremacists who assault and murder people like Heather Hyer. These people are social dinosaurs who are terrified that the white man's control over the world is slipping away in the ever more insistent tide of multiculturalism. And having nice manners and going food shopping just like us normal folk does not make them any less morally repugnant.
     Bess Kalb, a writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live, wrote in response,
You know who had nice manners? The Nazi who shaved my uncle Willie’s head before escorting him into a cement chamber where he locked eyes with children as their lungs filled with poison and they suffocated to death in agony. Too much? Exactly. That’s how you write about Nazis.

     In other words, this was the failing of the NY Times, in seemingly giving credence to Donald Trump's despicable comments about some of the white nationalists and NeoNazis being "very fine people." This is how Overton's Window keeps shifting to the right- Not through government propaganda but with the apparent blessing of our mainstream media.
     In normalizing this guy, in initially linking to a neo Nazi merchandise site, showing a cute furry cat on a bookcase containing books glorifying white nationalism and Nazism, talking about his upcoming wedding and this guy's attempts to put out his message with "satire" and in not highlighting the cruel irony of a neo Nazi who likes Seinfeld and National Public Radio, they're just unpacking that famous quote by Hannah Arendt: "The banality of evil" while seeming to be disturbingly comfortable with how banal we've allowed it to get.


At November 27, 2017 at 5:21 PM, Blogger Jon Rudd said...

Note the book on the shelf by Holocaust denier David Irving.
One of the problems with a story like this--from the standpoint of the NYT--is that you can't discuss the alt-right without also discussing the, er, Republican Party. And if you do that you get screamed at for having a left-wing bias. So all the Times can do is tip-toe around the most significant aspects of the story, unless you're prepared to argue that liking turkey sandwiches and owning a cat are significant aspects of the story. What the paper's management never seems to get is that as far as the Right is concerned the paper will always be left-wing and will always be The Enemy, no matter what. Accordingly, the Times will make no converts by trying to normalize neo-Nazis. So maybe it can get its head around the notion of doing an honest job of reporting about neo-Nazism in contemporary America.

At November 27, 2017 at 8:43 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

That's exactly it, Jon. The NY Times tried tip-toeing their way around this trying to offend the least amount of readers and it wound up blowing up in their faces like a fucking prank cigar. The news doesn't give a shit who it offends. In fact, if the MSM doesn't offend or outrage someone, then it's not doing its job correctly.


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