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Mangy Jay @magi_jay
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1/ To briefly follow up on this thread:

There is a useful distinction to be made between the article’s intent (to shed light on the normalcy of American racism) and its execution.

My criticism was of its execution, not of the intent.

2/ IMO, *more*, not less, attention should be dedicated to examining the normalcy American racism, in all of its forms.

My thread was an attempt to offer suggestions on how this might be done.
3/ When I say “normalcy” here, I mean that racism is as American as apple pie. It is common. It is everywhere.

And I would further assert that "normal" racist behaviors & beliefs exist on a spectrum.
4/ Racism is melded into the skeleton of our nation. It has infected our minds from infancy. And not one of us is immune.
5/ Racism has molded the minds of far-right extremists like Horvater & Spencer. But it has also permeated the attitudes of the white progressive liberals who sit at my dinner table.
6/ There are racists like the old white man I once saw call a black child the n-word in a gas station.
7/ And then there are the white liberals who voted for Obama, were even devoted to him, but still said things like, “He’s so articulate!” as if they were expressing a surprising fact, rather than just, well, a fact.
8/ This vast spectrum of racism, and its utter normalcy, deserves to be inspected, dissected, diagnosed, and aggressively combated.
9/ Then there is the distinction between that which we call “normal” and that which we normalize.

The Times, in my view, attempted the former, to identify a poisonous, but common, force in America society. But, again, what they achieved was arguably “normalization.”
10/ To expose something as normal is to expose it as common. As perhaps even fundamental to who we are as human beings.

To normalize something is to render it acceptable.
11/ And this brings me a final consideration: our collective reaction when we witness evil and then define it as “normal.”

We tend, as humans, to view "normalcy" as an excuse. To react to the assertion of normalcy as if we are being compelled to forgive and justify.
12/ For example, we talk about the “Banality of Evil,” but we rarely discuss the initial reaction to Hannah Arendt’s piece.

Some mounted research-based criticisms**. Others, however, attacked Arendt for daring to suggest that human wickedness could be quite ordinary indeed.
13/ Arendt was ostracized from many circles. Many saw her description of Eichmann’s "banal evil" as a forgiveness of this trait.
14/ When, in fact, Arendt was arguably attempting to shed light on the fact that those whom we view as the *most* basic humans also facilitate and perpetrate acts of human wickedness.
15/ We want, as humans, to distance ourselves from the monsters. To place all evil on their shoulders & condemn for it—while distancing ourselves.
16/ We are almost pathologically allergic to the idea that very wicked people can also be very ordinary.

We are even more adverse to the notion that our actions (or inactions) enable the most evil among us to flourish.
17/ In America, it is our bias, our laziness, our ignorance, and our privilege that allows the most virulent and violent racism to not only survive—but grow stronger.
18/ This is the nature of the "normalcy" of American racism—and of systemic oppression everywhere.
19/ We must begin to recognize the racism in those around us—and the racism in ourselves. We must recognize how we are complicit. And demand that we change.
20/ And, in order to do this, yes, I believe we must confront the normalcy of it all. It is all around us. It is in you. And it is in me.
21/ But we must be careful, when we attempt to do so, that we do not further bleach these behaviors and beliefs. That we do not allow normalcy to lead to forgiveness, to complacency, or, as some would say, “normalization.”

This is arguably how the NYTimes failed.
22/ That's it for now. . . . .But:
23/ A footnote w/ regards to criticisms of Arendt:

There are many good critiques of Arendt’s work on Eichmann. Some, for example, have argued her impression of Eichmann was viewed through the lens of her own work on totalitarianism & thus biased. . . .
24/ Other work has not critiqued Arendt so much as revealed new historical information that revealed Eichmann was far from a man who just followed orders, but rather an enthusiastic anti-Semite & sadist.
25/ However, the ideas underlying the "Banality of Evil" are still valuable. And, yes, they deserve a place in how we discuss modern American racism.
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