Thursday, April 03, 2008

Eichmann in Berkeley

Were she still alive, I have no doubt that Hannah Arendt would be writing about John Yoo as the modern exemplar of the banality of evil she wrote about more than 40 years ago.

From Wikipedia:

In her reporting of the Eichmann trial for The New Yorker, which evolved into Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963), she coined the phrase "the banality of evil" to describe Eichmann. She raised the question of whether evil is radical or simply a function of banality - the tendency of ordinary people to obey orders and conform to mass opinion without critically thinking about the results of their action or inaction.
I try not to view every new adversity as an echo of the Holocaust. And in the grossest sense, of course, neither our current straits nor anything else that has happened since can compare. But I don't think comparing Yoo to Eichmann is too farfetched.

To these eyes, the pseudo-reasoning by which Yoo endorses torture and the enables the trashing of the most fundamental Constitutional protections is hard to distinguish from Eichmann's bureaucratic and logistical contributions.

There was an article in the California Lawyer magazine a few months back about Yoo and his strange presence at the Boalt Hall School of Law (it does not seem to be available online). Some of his ideological opponents talked about what a pleasant fellow he is.

Well I guess that settles that. And who knows? Maybe someday he will let us know that when he destroyed our national honor he was only following orders.


Blogger John Gabree said...

The odd and painful thing about this is that such a mediocre lawyer should hold be in a teaching position. Didn't anyone in the hiring committee look at the quality of his work, or is it enough that he is a celebrity and well-connected politically?

11:31 AM  
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