Videla finally joins his 30,000 victims
Hannah Arendt is endlessly cited for her observation of the “banality of evil.” Whether she was right in general that “ordinary” people can easily adopt the evil motives and participate in the evil methods of a pathological state or whether it applies in any case to her subject, Adolf Eichmann, I don’t here debate. I bring it up merely to point out that the term “banality” in any event is poorly chosen. Evil, as we repeatedly find, in the hands of true geniuses is endlessly novel, imaginative and new. If you disagree, consider Argentine Big Man Jorge Rafael Videla, who died today, removing a great stain from our species. Videla, as we pointed out not too long ago, was the author of truly original and unspeakable acts of evil during the Dirty War that he supervised in Argentina. Those interested can consult that post or other easily available “memorials” in papers today.
I bring this up not to again relive the saga of the Disappeareds, but to point out what a true “scandal” in foreign policy is. Unlike the make-believe cover-up that Republicans will be regaling us with for some time over a real tragedy in Libya, our past support of true evil-doers, like Videla, who commit unspeakable crimes is a real scandal. But of course no one figured out then how to fund raise off of our support for human rights abusers. And, in another difference, the support came from the leaders (Reagan and the Bushes) of the party who see politics as a monetizing machine and who now claim to worry so much about the purity of the State Department.
It will be one of those ironies of history, the ones that always seem to happen for the benefit of the authoritarians, if the GOP can ride this pretend-scandal back to power to re-implement real scandals, the criminal-friendly policies that they have promoted for the past half century in order to give aid and comfort to the authors of real crimes against humanity, like the one who died today.