‘Banality of Evil’: MSNBC Guest References Holocaust Book to Explain Gianforte Election


Last night, despite having assaulted a Guardian reporter the day before, Republican Greg Gianforte pulled out a victory in Montana’s special election to fill it’s lone House seat. Well, according to Princeton professor Eddie Glaude, Montana voters sending Gianforte to Congress might be somewhat analogous to what occurred during the Holocaust.

During an MSNBC segment this morning, host Stephanie Ruhle wanted to know what this says about our culture considering that Gianforte was able to get elected despite attacking a reporter and flip-flopping on his original statement about the incident during his victory speech. “The opposite of the lessons we teach our children,” she exclaimed.

“Remember the press release, the initial press release was to deny all of the specifics,” said Glaude, referring to Gianforte’s initial comments on the attack. “Then you come back and apologize. So you don’t apologize for lying initially; you apologize for the act.”

Glaude continued, bringing up a famous book by political theorist Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

“This reminds me of Hannah Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem, The Banality of Evil. And the banality of evil is not just simply that ordinary people do bad things, it’s that stupidity is unexceptional,” he said.

Glaude added, “There is a sense which everyday ordinary people are buying into this sort of behavior as a reflection of their own values, as a reflection of their own commitments.”

He went on to say that this represents a “normalization of ignorance and a kind of banality of wrongdoing of evil” and that it doesn’t “portend well for us.”

In explaining the “banality of evil,” Arendt explained that Adolf Eichmann wasn’t necessarily a sociopath or a fanatic, but merely a person who bought into and used cliches rather than independent thought. Rather than being motivated by ideology, his actions were more driven by advancement in his profession. Thus, there’s a potential for any normal person to do unbelievably evil things.

Watch the clip above, via MSNBC.

[image via screengrab]

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