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Hannah Arendt On The Big Screen

Hannah Arendt’s political theory rocked the 20th century with “the banality of evil.” A new movie looks at the life and mind of Hannah Arendt.

The towering German-Jewish émigré intellectual Hannah Arendt stared into the face of the Nazi and saw the banal.

“The banality of evil,” she famously wrote in 1963, covering the trial in Jerusalem of Nazi Adolf Eichmann. An unthinking drone who implemented the Holocaust. A personification of the 20th century’s banal inhumanity.

But there was nothing banal about it to many of her fellow Jewish survivors. Arendt’s depiction fueled furious debate. A new film brings it back.

Up next On Point: The great mind and great notoriety of Hannah Arendt.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Pamela Katz, screenwriter for “Hannah Arendt.” She co-wrote the script with the films’s director, Margarethe Von Trotta.

Roger Berkowitz, associate professor of political studies and human rights and academic director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities at Bard College. He co-edited “Thinking In Dark Times: Hannah Arendt On Ethics And Politics.” (@Roger_Berkowitz)

Natan Sznaider, professor of government and society at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo and author of “Jewish Memory And The Cosmopolitan Order: Hannah Arendt And The Jewish Condition.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: The Woman Who Saw Banality In Evil – “Fifty years ago, a small book called ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,’ by a New School philosophy professor named Hannah Arendt set off a storm like few books before or since.”

The Guardian: Hannah Arendt’s Challenge To Adolf Eichmann – ”One thing Arendt certainly did not mean was that evil had become ordinary, or that Eichmann and his Nazi cohorts had committed an unexceptional crime. Indeed, she thought the crime was exceptional, if not unprecedented, and that as a result it demanded a new approach to legal judgment itself.”

Reviews Of The Film

The Paris Review: Lonely Thinking: Hannah Arendt On Film – “Although Arendt’s work follows numerous byways, one theme is clear: in modern bureaucratic societies, human evil originates from a failure not of goodness but of thinking.”

The New Republic: Women And Others – “A question persists: Was it worthwhile to make a film about Arendt when the only dramatic point is this bygone Eichmann controversy? To try to render Arendt as a philosophic heroine? It’s a struggle.”

The New York Times: How It Looks To Think: Watch Her – “My only real problem with ‘Hannah Arendt’ is that it’s not a mini-series. Arendt was a writer of long books and a maker of complex arguments, so the two hours of Margarethe von Trotta’s ardent and intelligent film about her are bound to feel somewhat superficial.”

LEFT: Political philosopher Hannah Arendt in 1954. (AP) RIGHT: Barbara Sukova plays Hannah Arendt in the feature film "Hannah Arendt" by Margarethe von Trotta. (Heimatfilm, NFP, DAPD/AP)

LEFT: Political philosopher Hannah Arendt in 1954. (AP) RIGHT: Barbara Sukova plays Hannah Arendt in the feature film “Hannah Arendt” by Margarethe von Trotta. (Heimatfilm, NFP, DAPD/AP)

Tweets From During The Show

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  • andreawilder

    NO!  Not the “banality of evil.”  This means Nazis following bureaucratic norms.  THIS DID NOT ALWAYS HAPPEN.  Nazis were open to bribery–those who could pay to get out of a
    bad situation sometimes did.  ”Sometimes” because we don’t
    know all instances when this happened, but there is evidence
    from survivors that it did happen.

    • jefe68

      What? That’s one absurd thesis.  

      • andreawilder

        Sez you.  Shows that money talks, not a faceless bureaucratic.

        • jefe68

          What are you 12 years old?

          • andreawilder

            You started with an insult so that is what you get.  
            What I said is perfectly sensible, just think.

    • Ray in VT

      There were certainly times when those in the Nazi state did not act to follow the orders that they were given, but there were many times when they did.  For a while it was assumed by some that what the Nazis did was somehow unique to the German mindset (or something), although Stanley Milgrim’s obedience experiment showed that Americans would also follow orders that might lead to the deaths of strangers.  I think that at times the Nazi crimes were believed to have been carried out by the true believers and fanatics, but, often, their crimes were carried out by “ordinary men”.

      • jefe68

        There were Jews who were capos in the camps.
        They followed orders thinking they would survive.
        They became pawns in the Final Solution themselves. When people are put into conditions such as those of the death and work camps of nazi Germany some rise up to show their humanity and others fall.

        Look up and read about the Lodz ghetto, that’s one very, very distressing story. The nazis’ manipulated the Jewish council to do their bidding. Then there was Hungry.

        The level of evil and efficiency that the nazi’ used was beyond belief. Was it banal? I think it was that and more.

        The nazis had camps all over the place and the German public went about their business.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/sunday-review/the-holocaust-just-got-more-shocking.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

        The bottom line is most people are not very well studied on of the Holocaust. There is, in my view a lot of people who view the Holocaust through a lens of their own making. Some of it is based on gross generalizations.

        • Ray in VT

          Yeah, some people sold out others in an attempt to stay alive.  I think that it is easy to criticize such acts from a distance, although I am not saying that you are, but when it comes down to matters of life and death, people will often do almost anything to save themselves or those close to them, even if it means selling other people down the river.  The Nazis were also able to use the collaborators to sort of say “look, they’re doing this to themselves” or “see how low they are, they’ll sell each other out.

          The horror of the Holocaust is just staggering in terms of what was done to people and the scale.  There were over 45,000 camps and ghettos across Nazi controlled territories:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/sunday-review/the-holocaust-just-got-more-shocking.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          Many claimed to not know, and there has been debate about how much was known and by whom when.  Gotz Aly has had an academic debate on this subject for a while, possibly with Adam Tooze.

          • jefe68

            I’m not passing judgment on the people who became capos. 
            It’s about human nature and how one reacts to desperate conditions.

            I have no idea how I would have reacted to being put into a camp.
            What would I’ve done to survive?
            Take the boots off a person dying to keep your feet from getting frostbite? Stealing moldy bread?
            I don’t know, I just don’t know.
              
            A lot of my mothers family were from Lodz and Warsaw and Antwerp.
            Of the ones who were interend 80% perished in the camps.

          • Ray in VT

            I didn’t think that you were, but I just wanted to say that so you would not think that I was accusing you of such.  One never really does know how one will react under such circumstances.  A lot of people think that they know, but one doesn’t really know until one is faced with such terrible choices.

      • andreawilder

        I know the Milgrim experiment.  It seems to me that some at the top were psychopaths.  ”Ordinary men” following ordinary orders is often used to describe what happened, but some could “bend” the rules if it could work for them, so there were minds back there behind the written orders.

        • Ray in VT

          Of course.  Some bent the rules or disobeyed orders, as is always the case, although such acts were likely to carry severe consequences for offenders caught by or turn in to the Gestapo.

          • andreawilder

            Yep, just so.  Thanks, Ray.

    • TreeofStars

      This actually proves the point of banality. As Pamela Katz argued on the broadcast, finding out there were ways to resist in Germany brings on a greater condemnation to those that didn’t. Thus, if I am a Nazi open to bribery, my notions of economic self-preservation and reward trump my supposedly virulent antisemitism. I am not saying that there weren’t rabid anitsemites committing these attrocities; but when you argue that evil was not banal by bringing up the fact that many took bribes, it spotlights the fact that men and women will travel the path of least resistance. The immediate situation of fitting in and rewarding oneself triumphs over taking the long view, critically thinking, and acting according to your own convictions. This is banality. Remember, the acts and results of evil are not banal, the way in which it is carried out is.

      • andreawilder

        I disagree.  The idea behind the banality of evil is the faceless person following orders.  I provided one example where the notion does not fit.  There were people behind the actions, open to bribes, not faceless technocrats.  One needs only one example.

        • TreeofStars

          We definitely disagree on the finer points of defining banality. I don’t think one example trumps a very rich concept. For me, when you highlight the individual from the crowd of “faceless technocrats” who both takes bribes and follows the orders of his superiors in the mechanized process of killing millions, that person is the epitomy of the banal. They are participating in such an ambivalent way as to make the reasons for their actions arbitrary. I see it as the opposite of the evil committed in the name of racism, nationalism, etc. There is ideology behind that evil. It’s scary because there is a goal. With the bribe-taker the killing of Jews is as mundane and banal as an economic exchange. It is much easier for me to understand evil that is motivated. The individual who takes bribes and participates in such a nonchalant manner perplexes me and scares me (because we too could be doing it).
          Also, calling the evil “banal” doesn’t let the perpetraitors off the hook or suggest that their agency was foreclosed, which is what seems to be bothering you.

          • andreawilder

            One example opens the door  The banal is the bureaucrat, does the job without thought.  As soon as you open the door to thought, the taking of bribes is my example, you move away from the bureaucrat, and hence away from Arendt.

  • UsLiberal

    Arendt’s thesis is clearly still on view today:  Just this week, the supreme court in El Salvador refused to act to save the life of a young woman who needed an abortion to save her life.

    • Ed75

      On the contrary, abortion is a good example of the banality of evil. Here one has someone like Ms. Richards, head of Planned P., a talented but not outstanding person … who presided so far over the deaths of at least 3 million human beings.

      The court in El Salvador is correct: to act to save the life of the mother and of the child. If the mother’s life is in danger, the child can be delivered (it’s 26 weeks already), even by Cesarian. Why is there a rush to kill the child?

  • Ed75

    It reminds me of our approach to abortion today: accepted by going along.

    We need to remember that ‘we’re not fighting against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities…’ St. Paul.

    • donniethebrasco

      Freedom to kill your child should extend to the fourth trimester.

      • Ed75

        That’s what they’re aiming at.

        • Ray in VT

          You always have to watch out for they and them.  They’re always up to something.  If only we could figure out who they are, them we could stop them.

          • Ed75

            It used to be that we have found the enemy, and he is us. But this enemy is clear and out there. But we can’t stop them. But God can, and will.

          • Ray in VT

            I’ve never seen any evidence that any divine entity will take any action to do anything.  Slavery ended because of the actions of people not the divine, and it was us that ended the Holocaust and the Nazi regime.  I don’t think that this enemy exists in the United States.  The record has been pretty good on people “aborting in the fourth trimester” go to jail.

  • Yar

    Threads; We search a thread of a backpack; we follow the thread of letter, laced with poison. We look for threads in motive and motive in threads. I wonder how many of the threads we wear were sown by the thousand who died. Oh, what a tangled thread our exploitation weaves. Do my jeans carry the genes of someone killed in the building collapse in Bangladesh? All, for 15 bucks. Half a months wages for the seamstress.

  • donniethebrasco

    If you are in the press and you get information embarrassing to Obama, your whole family will be spied on.

    If they are doing nothing wrong, there is nothing to worry about.

    We want Romney’s tax returns released, because we already know what is on them.

  • Ed75

    One has to recall that Eichmann was also an atheist.

    • Ray in VT

      And Hitler was raised Catholic, as was Mengele.  What’s your point?

    • jefe68

      So am I, but I was born a Jew. Now what.

    • J__o__h__n

      One has to recall that Eichmann used to be a fetus.

      • Ed75

        So was I, so were you. For Eichmann, a fetus gone wrong. “Better for that man had he never been born … “(Jesus) perhaps applies here. The point of his being an atheist is that he had no system with which to confront the social movement he found himself part of.

        • Ray in VT

          Hogwash.  One does not need religion to have morals or to be a good person.  Eichmann was terrible, but he non-believers only made up some 1.5% of the population on Nazi Germany.  For every atheist who failed to do his or her part to resist the Nazi regime, dozens of Christians, Catholic and Protestant, also failed, and members of those communities also led the atrocities.  If 40% of the people in Nazi Germany were Catholic, then what does that say about the ability of that community to resist such evil?

  • 65noname

    your commentator’s mind is too banal to have an intellectual discussion about the banality of evil.  So, instead, he chooses to launch into the typical anti-nazi, anti-commie idioacy of lumping them together using the usual superfical banal generalities (it is interesting how every time he denounces nazism, as an afterthought he remembers to “oh, yea” denounce communism),  He delves into the typical, there were no greater evils than communism and nazism, and claims that their actions were a new form of genocide being done for reasons new to humanity.  Well, how about the amerikan genocide of native amerikans, just to name one of a million examples? How about the multiple attempts to eliminate the native americans in central and south america when it turned out that they didn’t make good slaves? 

    And that’s not to mention that Stalin’s reasons for eliminating whole populations was entirely different than the nazis’ reasons. 

  • 65noname

    And, by the way, anti-semitism was a central tenet of nazism.  But elimination of whole peoples was not a central tenet of communism. (which is not to deny the strong anti-semitism in the Russian psyche) Nazis, as a philosphic act, set out to kill all jewish people (Amoung other peoples).  The vSoviet Union killed large numbers of people because it was under the thumb of a brutal dicatator who engaged in mass murder for economic reasons (eliminating opponents to his policies concerning ownership of vast tracts of farm land) as well as for his own pathological psychology

    • Ray in VT

      The motives behind the horrors of those two murderous regimes is, I think, why I have always thought of the Third Reich as being more horrific.  There were some racial elements to the Soviet regime, but many of the people that they persecuted did seem to be for political or economic reasons.  That’s pretty horrific.  The Nazis, though, had this whole pseudo-science justification and racial mythology that underpinned what they did to certain groups, such as the Jews or the Roma.  They also persecuted people for political reasons, but not as much.  The thought that they put into who was inferior, why they were inferior, and the meticulous record keeping that they did I find more chilling and evil, and they would have carried their crimes further if they could have.  Arabs, as a semetic people, would also, I think, have been exterminated, as would people of African origin and the Slavs.

  • Ed75

    Morally speaking, though, one can’t require a person to be heroic – one can hope for it, but can’t require it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mathias-Detamore/12926446 Mathias Detamore

    Where is the movie playing? I’m in Nashville, but there’s no where nearby that it’s playing. Would love to see it.

  • DeJay79

    Natan Sznaider, way to be a nay sayer.

    Tom: “Is there anything at all that you think is good?”

    Natan: “No, nothing is good ever. that is why you have me on this show right just to say no.”

  • clover7383

    The banality of evil is evident around us everywhere, it is present in the people who purposefully run over turtles who are attempting to cross the road or those who go out of there way to run over possums. 

    I once witnessed my neighbor, a preacher’s wife, run over a possum in front of my house.  She then stopped in the road, backed up and looked at what she had done and she and her daughter laughed in celebration.  (It was an early spring evening, I was weeding my flowerbeds, and they didn’t see me and their car windows were down).   When I called them out on it and pointed out to them that their actions were the antithesis of ”what would jesus do”, they did not express embarassment or regret, but scornfully told me “it was just a possum”

    I believe that anyone that gets amusement out of killing an innocent creature could easily kill a human and these kinds of people are around us everywhere.

  • Namenomnomnom

    In earlier times I was stumped when considering the German people sliding down into the moral pit they arrived at under the Nazis.

    Today I am stumped about us in the US.

    We have uncomplainingly given up our habeas corpus rights ( which, now revocable by Executive caprice, are not rights at all but privileges,) thereby inviting no end of travesties upon innocents.  Which travesties are indeed proceeding.

    We are complicit in the demarcation of a zone in Cuba where the universal, ubiquitous values we espouse somehow do not exist.

    We are complicit in government assassination of citizens with absolutely zero due process.

    We are complicit in our President’s policy of declaring, ex post facto, that any male of “military age” who is killed in a drone attack, is *thereby* proven to have been a terrorist.

    In today’s news, a 14 year old boy (literally carry a puppy on the beach) is physically attacked, mauled and arrested. His crime?  Casting a “dehumanizing stare” at armed and armored police.One hundred examples could be quickly and easily listed. 

    How close to the edge of that moral pit are we, “conservatives” and “liberals” alike?

    Are we past the edge?

    The banality of evil?  From the largest to the smallest scale: we’re soaking in it.

    • JustWatching

       It does not take a great philosopher to see the parallels between the North American United States in 2010  and Germany in 1933.  Von Hindenburg won the election in 1932, not HItler.  We only await an autocrat without respect for the people and the process.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arttoegemann Art Toegemann

    Arendt’s now famous comment may be a product of post traumatic stress disorder, a depression/catatonia from an unresolved flight for her life.
    Or it can be taken literally, observation of the many episodes of genocide throughout human history, among even the most civilized nations. The Old Testament contains histories of just a few of these.

  • Roberto1194

    Mindful compassionate Thought -and it’s value in managing afflicting emotions- is the core and structure of philosophical/spiritual/social well-being. 
      We are all disposed to the abdication of compassion, and non-thinking. -the going along. -indifference. -fear of the ‘other’.-blame.One need not apply the experience of the holocost.
    As this history has come to ‘own’ the topic of human ‘evil’, and posits it as another form of Jewish Question. It is a distraction to facing the universal essence of our fears and failings right now!
    This is a very needed conversation NOW.
    We thoughtlessly join in ‘madness’ in manifold ways every day.Our lives our pre-occupied with the mindless banality of materialism, emotionally manipulative ’news’ and entertainments… -often mindless, violent, insulting, and destructive… narcisism, economic self-interest, fear…

    • http://www.facebook.com/SusanSeaside Susan Watson

      I agree. If the choices were big ones right off the bat we might be more inclined to see them for what they are, but we slide gently into the seduction of tiny conveniences that ultimately lead us there.  The small choices count, too.

  • iliad56

    Since I have not seen the movie, I do not know whose viewpoint to believe.  It is very hard, if not almost impossible, to translate great ideas into cinema in my opinion.  I think what happens is that the thoughts get kind of watered down and made palatable for the general public.  I think introducing this generation to her thinking is important, and I think using social media to do so is also important.  The question is basically is the portrayal of her life and thought accurate based on the movie since most people won’t go out and buy her books. 

  • Bonnie S. D.

    I’m so glad a caller mentioned Bradley Manning in reference to brave souls. I am bothered that the host, referring to his case and the atrocity footage he broadcast, said something like, “people sharing what they think of as evil.” No reasonable person could see the footage and hear the joshing that went on during the aerial shooting that Manning shared with the world and not label it evil. I also want to set the record straight, correcting what one of the commentators said, and that is that Manning tried to share the footage with NY Times and The Washington Post first, and they turned him down. He then sent it to WikiLeaks. And, again, I sound the note of taking seriously the issue of child protection in the early years, recommending anyone who cares about the roots of violence to read Alice Miller’s books, particularly “For Your Own Good” and to check out Adverse Childhood Experiences study and website.

  • ThirdWayForward

    Excellent, thought-provoking show.

  • http://www.facebook.com/larry.simon.5268 Larry Simon

    As a child of parents who survived Nazi Germany, I have been thinking about the issues Hannah Arendt raised for most of my life. Don’t think I’ve ever or will ever resolve it. My personal response to the banality of evil has been to do good works and look for the best in the human condition. As a lifelong special educator I think that I’ve tried to defy the evil of the final solution.  As an avid music fan, always looking for music with soul and honesty I suggest you do a show on Levon Helm. Who in his too short life embodied all that is good in the human spirit. A recent documentary on his later years is out now, Ain’t in it for my Health.

  • J__o__h__n

    Does anyone find any value from the Twitterings posted before the comments?  Eight are from On Point.  Two are from the Hannah Arendt center.  Only two are from people commenting on the show. 

    What is next a popup of On Point’s Facebook posts?  (That was a joke not a suggestion.)

    • Potter

      I don’t like them either. Get rid of them!!!They are meaningless to discussion, more like advertisements.

      Is anyone listening at OP? Others have made the same comment.

  • Potter

    Thanks for the show- a very interesting and arresting topic. I think many misunderstand what Hannah Arendt was saying and it’s kind of a field day on Arendt, what she meant and what can be thought about by the phrase “the banality of evil”. Your caller who was a young boy in Israel at the time of the trial, was excellent. I did hear an interpretation by your guest Mr. Berkowitz that I could go along with. I think this is a perennial subject and never outdated– especially the connection even to the Marathon Day bombers. 

    The clip that I heard in the first half of the show of an actress portraying Arendt was dreadful acting I have to say though. It does not make me want to see the movie. She was overly dramatic, over- acting in that scene. Arendt was a weighty (deep) figure. This clip made her sound Hollywood cardboard and tries too hard to make up for the difficulties of portraying an Arendt with all that interior stuff going on. But maybe it gets better.

  • Adrian_from_RI

    Tom’s
    reading list should also have included the 1982 book “The Ominous Parallels” by Philosophy Professor Leonard Peikoff. It is the book that for me answered the question: Why?

    Working in Germany in the 60th I could never understand what made Germany descent from an icon of civilization into incomprehensible barbarity in less than one generation. I found the answer when I discovered “The Ominous Parallels.” It is a book about the history of ideas that shape a culture; from Classical Greece to the Age of Reason; from Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) to the chaos of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) to the inevitability of a Hitler.  

    It seems to me that Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) failed to see what her books make all but inescapable, namely, that the essence of Hitler’s theories was not reason, but unreason. I
    am afraid that the battle against Nazism has not yet been won.

  • jsland1

    I think we forget that there is also banality of goodness as well as banality of evil. Banality itself is an adjective describing the effects that an “unchewed, undigested” personal life has on an individual’s personality no matter what their morality – boring and repetitive, and the greater eventual effect that has when paralyzing individual dullness becomes collective, part of the state’s political culture. Then the greatest cultural norms and institutions become so defined there is no more room for an individual to scale them back down to their own experience. Where in Germany in the nineteenth century was one person to go to make an effect on her National Culture? Only a genious the size of a Mahler could make an impact. And who can fault the immense power and beauty that was everywhere celebrated, handed down, and performed? Perhaps one of the faults lay in the fact that small scale local cultures and education was subsumed in a single one. All individual human beings must have a time and a place to influence their world and culture with their own experiences. Because Hanna was a thinker and came from a culture which worshipped thinking (correct thinking by that time), she claimed it was only thought that was needed to correct a banal life. But feeling, sensation, thought and intuition, all are the tools of living and creating a whole personal life, from childhood to old age. The unowned and unexamined personal life gives to any established group, including the state’s institutions, the authority to define more of the good and the bad for individuals. For most of us this is painfully boring and frustrating. Denigration of individual experience and expression precedes all kinds of cultural banality. Banality of good leads to political correctness, public niceness and private nastyness, charity without justice, as well as what passes for the arts in the entertainment world today. People are deferring to authority and taking news and entertainment as it’s given to them. As more of us give up seeking and expressing our own uniquely lived life, the collective culture in our world is manipulated more and more by corporations with the blessing of the many states, as they all take on the role of parent, shaping life for us, creating individuals that own less and less of their own expereince and more controllable. Many of us don’t want to think about what we feel, sense, intuit any more. Like Germany after WW2, life is too hard.

    We witness the banality of good before the banality of evil. How long do we have?

  • GoofyPoppy

    In this segment and others you have done, antisemitism is used often. Listeners may take this to mean hatred towards the Jews. But there are many Semite peoples and the use of this term is not directed at them and is usually a cop out so you do not have to say “Jew Haters”. Why won’t Public Radio and all media be honest and not hide behind a soft sounding term but be up front and honest and tell your listeners, readers, etc. what you really mean? The person(s) or event(s) you are dealing with involve hatred of Jews, just because they are Jews. Yes, it’s a tough sounding phrase, but no one will be confused about it’s meaning. Please consider telling it like it is.

    • brettearle

      I do not agree with you at all.

      Your comment is a fallacious indictment of political correctness–and it is a criticism that is running amok.

      Anti-semitism has been used synonymously with an intrinsic bias against the Jewish people for years.

      And EVERYONE knows it.

      You’re blowin’ a lot of ridiculous smoke.

      I’m a Jew.

  • Gordon Green

    I highly recommend listening to this radio program:

    http://www.radiolab.org/2012/jan/09/whos-bad/

    A big part of evil is the heroic story people tell themselves to justify their actions.

  • Roy Merritt

    I think ultimately that Arendt is merely contending that ordinary people can be guilty of extraordinary evil if someone has inspired them out of some real concern or simply for reasons with far more devious motivations.  That some people are not capable of thinking for themselves if they aren’t willing to listen to thoughts in contention to what they hold dear.  That some can be easily manipulated if only their unspoken prejudices are visited upon no matter how discreetly they are expressed.  That is one of the reasons our present political situation frightens me so very much.  It is especially true when one considers the absolute stupidity that is displayed and put forth daily by people who profess to be Republicans.  In the end people are tribal and if it seems their tribe is under assault whether real or fantasized they can manufacture a multitude of reasons to dismiss those they think have put them under assault as inferior, which has always been one way of perceiving it and thereby they can use intellectual concepts such as evolution and the survival of the fittest as reason enough to commit innumerable acts of evil on others they’ve resolved are less human than themselves.  But I would suggest that promoting the idea of Bradley Manning as some kind heroic figure out to thwart evil is ludicrous.  Any reading of what motivated Manning will show that the opposite is in fact what drove him.  He was upset by the failure of a same sex relationship and no doubt the routine and constant scrutiny of military service.  Being a veteran I well know how a person can become disappointed with the routine of military service, which itself often seems banal and is sometimes terrifically boring.  Manning foolishly jeopardized his future turning all that information over to Assange who I think is motivated by nothing but an inveterate hatred of America and nothing more.  He is no one to admire, he is a man who obviously views women as mere objects to be taken advantage of more or less.  He sees himself as some kind of international gadfly, which couldn’t be further from the truth.  If he was such a heroic figure he’d confront his accusers and reveal the supposed culpability in the persecution of him by America, but it seems his opinion of Sweden is no better than his opinion of America or his native Australia.  He reveals this when he dismisses Sweden as collaborating with American efforts to destroy him.  I have far greater confidence in Sweden than he and his rabid supporters seem to have.  In the end Manning did nothing but put people in harm’s way, some of them his own countrymen.  Patriotism is a concept obviously lost on him.  In my opinion he is not better than all the strident discordant voices coming from the right side of the political spectrum we have to listen to daily in this country.  Arendt came to realize that deep down Eichman was nothing more than an ambitious bureaucrat who would have willing sent Catholics and or Protestants off to the death camps if someone superior to him had made it clear to him it would enhance his future.  In other words self interest motivated him more than any sense of being superior to anyone in any way whatsoever.    

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Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

Deadly clashes in Eastern Ukraine. A white supremacist rocks Kansas City. The Marathon bombing anniversary. And Bloomberg on guns. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Apr 18, 2014
This undated photo provided by NASA on April 2, 2014 shows Saturn's moon Enceladus. The "tiger stripes" are long fractures from which water vapor jets are emitted. Scientists have uncovered a vast ocean beneath the icy surface of the moon, they announced Thursday, April 3, 2014. Italian and American researchers made the discovery using Cassini, a NASA-European spacecraft still exploring Saturn and its rings 17 years after its launch from Cape Canaveral. (AP)

Oceans in Space. The new discovery on a moon of Saturn, and the possibility of life there.

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Apr 17, 2014
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men burn leavened items in final preparation for the Passover holiday in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish town of Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, April 14, 2014. Jews are forbidden to eat leavened foodstuffs during the Passover holiday that celebrates the biblical story of the Israelites' escape from slavery and exodus from Egypt. (AP)

In the week of Passover and anti-Semitic gunfire, we look at the history of the Jews with acclaimed historian Simon Schama. Plus, Pope Francis and the Catholic Church today.

 
Apr 17, 2014
Students cheer and wave as President Barack Obama, not pictured, exits the podium after speaking at the University at Buffalo, in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, beginning his two day bus tour speaking about college financial aid.  (AP)

The inside dope on college financial aid. The way it really works, who gets what, and how.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Some Tools And Tricks For College Financial Aid
Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Some helpful links and tools for navigating FAFSA and other college financial aid tools.

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How Boston Is Getting Ready For the 2014 Boston Marathon
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Boston Globe metro reporter Maria Cramer explains how the 2014 Boston Marathon will be different than races in the past.

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WBUR’s David Boeri: ‘There’s Still Much We Don’t Know’
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

WBUR’s senior reporter David Boeri details the ongoing investigation into the alleged Boston Marathon Bombing perpetrators.

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