What is it with this man called Ward Churchill? (No link, because I don't want to point to him from here. Call it irrational. You can find him via Google). There are some things that should be beyond the pale, and the horrific crimes of the Nazis are good examples. So if a comparison is made to those atrocities, it had better be some horrific crime too. If a comparison is made to the Nazis, it had better be some serious mass-murderers too.
This Churchill made such a comparison. In an article from three years ago, he referred to "little Eichmanns." Not something to be lightly done, given who Adolf Eichmann was. So you'd expect Churchill had found some ordinary folks doing extraordinarily evil things, which is just what Hannah Arendt made of Eichmann as she watched his trial in Jerusalem a generation ago. That was the dichotomy that led her to write so famously of the banality of evil.
Churchill indeed meant some ordinary folks: the people who worked in the World Trade Centre towers, people who died flaming deaths when two planes slammed into those towers one September morning. These were no innocent victims, according to Churchill. "Civilians of a sort", yes, he wrote. "But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire."
And therefore, "little Eichmanns."
Takes your breath away. You can disagree with US policies, with the great engine of capitalism that the towers stood for. Sure, do it. But "little Eichmanns"? Give me a break. Give us all a break. Get lost.
Yet you read about this and you get the feeling that it would have driven Hannah Arendt to coin her phrase all over again. When a man compares everyday Americans -- who died without even knowing how -- to Adolf Eichmann, you know: the banality of evil lives on somewhere in there. In that mind.