Commentary Magazine


Arendt on Eichmann

To the Editor:

Norman Podhoretz is to be congratulated for having written the first critique of Hannah Arendt’s book on Eichmann worthy of any serious attention [“Hannah Arendt on Eichmann,” September 1963]. It is disturbing to have to add that he drives his case so far that it ends in absurdity. Despite his own strictures, eloquence ran away with him. But then we are all reasonably decent men standing half-mute before the pit of hell. In that spirit I make the following remarks.

Podhoretz has made, in my opinion, his strongest case in criticizing Arendt’s treatment of the issue of Jewish resistance. It is difficult to understand why she made such a point of this, and Podhoretz’s analysis of the roots of Jewish “appeasement” policy is reasonable and convincing. . . .

Podhoretz should have let it go at that. For later in the article the rising intensity of his emotion leads him into statements which are dangerously misleading. It is one thing to criticize Hannah Arendt’s attitude toward the Jews, quite another to jettison her most significant contributions to the study of totalitarianism because it violates what Podhoretz thinks we know about the Nature of Man.

  1. The point he makes about the totalitarian closure of Germany and the Soviet Union is not relevant because Arendt, in The Origins of Totalitarianism, was not arguing that they were completely closed. Rather she was drawing a model of what such a society, if completely closed, would look like. This has been an acceptable procedure in social science ever since Max Weber perfected it via his ideal-type methodology. Her model is legitimately static because she attempted to freeze a situation to show its limiting tendencies.
  2. Even so, Germany was considerably more closed than Podhoretz seems to assume. Arendt, in the Origins, made this very clear in her useful onion analogy with which she showed how various concentric layers of ideology, psychology, and party organization separated the inner core of the Nazi movement, on the one hand, from the ordinary population on the other. How closed a society has to be to produce Eichmanns is properly an empirical question of which we still know very little. Personally I am rather impressed with the number of potential Eichmanns who keep cropping up in our society whose “openness” we like to celebrate so much.
  3. It is true, in my opinion, that Arendt in the Origins did not show an understanding of Communism equal to her grasp of Nazism. In this sense she attempted too much in equating Communist totalitarianism with the Nazi version to the degree she did without adequate qualifications. However, in my opinion Podhoretz is certainly wrong in linking her analysis with current propensities to underrate the degree of liberalization in the Soviet Union. It is not her basic theory, but rather her failure to distinguish adequately between Nazi and Communist ideology which has led to this. Communist theory, because of its roots in Marx, has always been closer to the Enlightenment tradition than Nazism ever was. Communist ideology, because of its central values, has carried within it the theoretical seeds for a liberalizing critique of its totalitarian tendencies in a way Nazi ideology never did. Indeed, one of the chief characteristics of Nazism is its seeming unrelatedness to recognizable Western ideological tradition, an unrelatedness so extreme that many, including Podhoretz, have felt impelled to use the word “insanity”—a wholly useless resolution of the problem, one might add, in comparison with Arendt’s profound attempt at comprehension.
  4. In throwing out the baby with the bath water, Podhoretz—on an infinitely more sophisticated level than some reviewers, it is true—places himself among those who defend the current state of our knowledge about Man against the horrifying implications of recent history. If her theory, as he says, “. . . finally violates everything we know about the Nature, of Man,” then it is because we know very little of this Nature. The assertion that we do leads to absurdities such as Podhoretz’s statement that “. . . no person could have joined the Nazi party, let alone the SS, who was not at the very least a vicious anti-Semite.” This is simply not true. It is by now common knowledge that everyone had eventually to join the party in Germany after 1933 if they wanted to hold on to any kind of significant employment. Even in the case of the Communist party of the Soviet Union, which is highly selective in its admission policy, people join for varying reasons, just as they do the Catholic Church and the Democratic party. True, the latter examples cannot be equated with the former; but only someone who utterly ignores the history of Germany between the two World Wars can single out anti-Semitism as the single most important motive for joining the Nazi party. And to state that “. . . no banality of a man could have done so hugely evil a job so well” may support what Podhoretz wishes we knew about “conscience,” but it does violate what we know of what the conditions of modern existence have done to man’s ability to rationalize virtually any act he commits. It is to Hannah Arendt’s (and Raul Hilberg’s) everlasting credit that they have ventured into this problem so fearlessly as to have uncovered many of the precise mechanisms of language and thought by which a banal man is able to commit monstrous deeds. This banality, indeed, is one of the most fateful discoveries of our age. Podhoretz does not even mention these aspects of her work. It almost seems he cannot bring himself to cope with how little we know of the potentialities of human evil, unlike Bruno Bettelheim in his recent contribution to this debate in the New Republic. Podhoretz is right to urge that we leave the dead alone, but “in the name of all that is humane” we, the remnant—whatever our faith and nationality—can never dare to “let up” on ourselves with regard to the larger issues which Hannah Arendt and others have done so much to bring to our attention.

Manfred Stanley
Department of Sociology
Wagner College
Staten Island, N.Y.

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To the Editor:

To one who has both admiration and respect for Norman Podhoretz’s writings, his piece on Hannah Arendt was grossly disappointing. Like so many of her critics, he refuses to see her work as an attempt to show what Bruno Bettelheim so aptly described “. . . as our inability to comprehend how modern technology and social organization, when made use of by totalitarianism, can empower a normal, rather mediocre person to play so crucial a role in the extermination of millions.”

For verification of this thesis, one need not go to Nazi Germany, for here in these United States, the citadel of tolerance and civil liberties, under limited emergency conditions, thousands of Japanese-Americans were forcibly removed from their West Coast homes for reasons best expressed by one General J. L. De Witt of the Western Defense Command in 1942. He said:

In the war in which we are now engaged, racial affinities are not severed by migration. The Japanese race is an enemy race and while many second-and third-generation Japanese born on United States soil, possessed of United States citizenship, have become “Americanized,” the racial strains are undiluted. . . . The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken.

Except for the final results, is there a vast difference between advocacy and implementation of this policy with that embodied in the Nuremberg decrees? Certainly the principle involved is frighteningly similar, and this under an administration and a Supreme Court generally considered to be among the most liberal in the history of the Republic.

Finally, however therapeutic it may be to dismiss “. . . . Hitler and his cohorts” (Globke?) as “madmen on the Jewish question, . . .” this is a tremendous over-simplification: even were one to grant that the upper echelon of Nazi Germany was psychotic, this does not explain away the countless thousands in the bureaucracy and army, without whom the Final Solution could never have been carried out. And it is here that Miss Arendt is at her very best, by showing the weaknesses inherent in human, rather than German, nature, which under favorable circumstances—e.g., totalitarianism, emergency crisis, and hysteria—very much dominate our most noble instincts.

Werner M. Feig
Park Forest, Illinois

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To the Editor:

I’m not normally a letters-to-the-editor-writer, but Norman Podhoretz’s piece on Hannah Arendt was so magnificent that I have to break my usual silence. “Congratulations” sounds too weak; it was a perfect job, and I’m lost in admiration for both the analysis and the writing.

Charles E. Silberman
Board of Editors
Fortune Magazine
New York City

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To the Editor:

. . . Norman Podhoretz’s article, “Hannah Arendt on Eichmann,” demonstrates a rare combination: originality, independence, creativity, logic, and great humanity.

(Mrs.) Phyllis W. Beck
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

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To the Editor:

Mr. Podhoretz’s essay articulates brilliantly the reasons why Hannah Arendt’s book struck many of us as irresponsible and in the worst of taste. But there was one point in his discussion that left me dissatisfied, and I should like him to clear it up for me, since it seems to plunge us all into a dilemma of moral judgment. Mr. Podhoretz criticizes Miss Arendt for trying to find a rational explanation of Eichmann’s behavior while perversely assuming the behavior of the Jewish leadership in Europe to have been irrational. Her efforts, he argues, are misdirected because the Nazis, including Eichmann, were “literally insane . . . this is pathological anti-Semitism bounded by no rational limits.”

Now I can certainly understand Mr. Podhoretz saying this, and, like everyone else, I have often felt tempted to say the same sort of thing: The Nazis were inhuman, beastly, monstrous, or, as the Russians preferred to put it, “mad dogs.” The trouble with these particular expressions of our horror at Nazi cruelty is that they sound inconsistent with our holding the Nazis morally and legally responsible for their crimes. I want very much to agree with Mr. Podhoretz when he writes of Eichmann: “No banality of a man could have done so hugely evil a job so well; to believe otherwise is to learn nothing about the nature of evil.” But what have we learned about the nature of evil? I believe Miss Arendt is profoundly wrong in attributing the evil of Nazism to the totalitarian state, and that Mr. Podhoretz is profoundly right in attributing the evil to men, including Eichmann. But can a man be both evil and insane? In law and in morality we are accustomed to regard insanity as an excusing condition that mitigates the agent’s culpability. A maniac gone berserk may have to be shot down in self-defense (as the Russians proposed to do with the Nazi “mad dogs”), but self-defense is not the same thing as punishment. So if the Nazis were madmen or mad dogs, the criminal proceedings at Nuremberg and in Israel. were improper. Yet Mr. Podhoretz approves of the trials. And so do I. But then, can he insist that the Nazis were literally insane? Is there, perhaps, a special kind of moral insanity that does not absolve an agent of responsibility?

On the other hand, perhaps Mr. Podhoretz’s adverb, “literally,” was not meant to be taken literally. Yet he also uses the phrase, “bounded by no rational limits.” And if he means this literally, we are back in the dilemma. For surely there must be a rational structure to evil, if it is to be regarded as moral evil. An agent is subject to moral judgment only if he is rational enough to choose effective means to achieve his goals, only, that is, if he “knows what he is about.” And surely the Nazi leaders knew what they were about, as Mr. Podhoretz insists at other points in his essay. Perhaps he would reply that they were rational about their means but not about their “crazy” ends. But who among us is rational about his paramount goals of life? Is the gangster who risks his own and others’ lives to obtain money any more rational than the Nazi who risks his life and his nation to kill Jews? Both types are unconventional, eccentric, and dangerous, no doubt about it, but they are not irrational or insane. It is a cliché to call people mad when they aim at eccentric goals—an unfortunate cliché when we also want to condemn them as evil. For the more rational men are in their pursuit of vicious ends, the more evil they are, and the Nazis came very close to the ultimate in evil. Had they been rational enough to win the war, they would have reached the ultimate.

Raziel Abelson
New York City

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To the Editor:

I wish to thank Mr. Podhoretz for his superb article, for it synthesized for me many rationalizations and questions which I have carried for many years. I am twenty-six years old, and therefore too young to have personally experienced the emotions and thoughts of the tragedy of European Jewry during the Nazi regime. My feelings are strictly second hand, strong as they may be. . . .

Mr. Podhoretz’s closing remark seemed to set my mind free for the first time since I have known of the holocaust. I wish now to answer, for my own satisfaction, if not his, the question: “The Nazis destroyed a third of the Jewish people. In the name of all that is humane, will the remnant never let up on itself?”

We, a part of the remnant, cannot let up, for if we do, then all our defenses fall. Then we will have to admit to ourselves that so hideous a deed could also happen to us—that our complete security as Americans of the Jewish faith could some day be threatened. [Therefore] . . . we must make ourselves believe that these Jews were not like ourselves, that their leaders were unlike the leaders of American Jewry. We have to tell ourselves over and over again that those who carried out Hitler’s orders were not living, breathing men, but robots who had the choice to obey or be destroyed. Once we admit that the casual neighbor down the street could become an Adolph Eichmann, our fear is too great. . . . To accept the reality that six million men, women, and children were killed because they were Jews, is too large, too horrible for most of us. Yes, Hitler and his regime were insane; but with the externals of civilized people. They were not wild-eyed, disheveled madmen, screaming incoherent phrases.

To rationalize, to continue pressing for some answer other than the truth is the only way that most of us can absorb what was done. The all-encompassing hideousness is just too great to take. That is why, Mr. Podhoretz, so many will never let up.

(Mrs.) Jack Lapin
New York City

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To the Editor:

Mr. Podhoretz asserts that “no person could have joined the Nazi party, let alone the SS, who was not at the very least a vicious anti-Semite.” It seems to me that this statement betrays a certain amount of naïveté as well as some ignorance of human nature. Most modern societies are composed of opportunists who will climb on any convenient bandwagon in order to secure for themselves the blessings of wealth, status, and power. Granted that many Nazis, especially the early party members, were viciously and pathologically anti-Semitic, I am convinced that the greatest majority were cold-blooded opportunists, who, all other things being the same, would have joined the party whether it was anti-Semitic, philo-Semitic, or totally indifferent to the existence of Jews.

(Detective) Ronald Reis
32nd Squad
Police Department
New York City

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To the Editor:

Of all the vitriolic criticism written on the Arendt book, the Podhoretz thesis has, at least, the virtue of being interesting, original and, as always, exceedingly well put forth. Unfortunately, it is so incredibly wrong-headed and so terribly brilliant in its own perversity that it fails as both criticism and commentary. . . .

Miss Arendt accepts the Eichmann guilt, neither extenuated nor enlarged. She suggests that neither Nuremberg nor the Eichmann trial came close to bringing modern man face to face in a constructive examination of his own behavior. She intimates that neither Nuremberg nor the trials that followed were judicial tribunals to find guilt, but rather public exhibitions to provide a larger innocence. She asks that all of us, for once, consider the behavior of the whole of mankind—assassin, victim, and spectator alike, so that we may avoid a repetition of this sorry and tragic spectacle. That is the whole of her great work. . . .

No, Mr. Podhoretz, Miss Arendt is not perverse, but she is brilliant. The answer to your final question is that no member of the human race who lived during those dark and terrible days dare ever let up on himself until we make a small beginning of understanding and stop depositing our guilt on the shoulders of a banal civil servant. However deep and specific his guilt is, it does not in any way lessen ours. . . .

Not proven, Mr. Podhoretz. One vote for Hannah Arendt.

Lee R. Bobker
New York City

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To the Editor:

Thank you for Norman Podhoretz’s most extraordinarily interesting article on Hannah Arendt. It was a great pleasure to see a mind so historically informed and so poetically inclined do just battle with an equally talented adversary.

The Eichmann trial and Miss Arendt’s book on it had been handled by so many reporters and reviewers that the rough shock of the plain facts involved became smudged and unrecognizable. Mr. Podhoretz has, in reviewing Eichmann in Jerusalem, redrawn the picture and, one hopes, finally turned its face to the wall.

Linda Tuck
Paris, France

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To the Editor:

While Norman Podhoretz has offered a number of excellent criticisms of Hannah Arendt’s new book, I think that the issues involved were handled much better by Oscar Handlin in the November 1962 COMMENTARY [“Jewish Resistance to the Nazis”]. . . .

One other remark: While Miss Arendt is hardly a Prophet, did not the Prophets make “inordinate demands . . . on the Jews to be better than other people, to be braver, wiser, nobler, more dignified—or be damned”?

Eugene S. Mornell
Los Angeles, California

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To the Editor:

Mr. Podhoretz’s interesting article is sadly astray in the selection of an example of double standards:

“When, to take a trivial example, has it ever popped into anyone’s head to accuse a prosecutor in an adversary proceeding of being unfair to the defendant he is working to convict?” The answer, which should be elaborated . . . by an expert, is: frequently. Into many heads, public and private. Courts hold prosecutors to standards of conduct which are, and ought to be, as our best prosecutors recognize, higher than those imposed on defense counsel.

Newell G. Alford, Jr.
New York City

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Mr. Podhoretz writes:

Having already discoursed at some length on all these issues, I only want to make a few brief comments now by way of further clarification:

  1. I did not say that the Nazis were altogether insane or clinically insane: I said they were insane on the Jewish question. This seems to me a perfectly acceptable distinction: one can accuse a man of having a crazy idea without implying either that the person so accused is himself crazy, or that he should not be held responsible for his acts. Unlike Mr. Stanley, I think the idea that the Jews were a danger to Germany and to Europe was an insane idea—and by “insane” I mean unrelated to reality, not unrelated (as Mr. Stanley strangely puts it) to “any recognizable Western ideological tradition.” I know as well as Mr. Stanley that the term “reality” is problematic. But surely we are entitled to say that Nazi anti-Semitism bore no relation to reality. If Hitler had succeeded in “cleansing” Europe of Jews, would Europe have thereby been purified?
  2. The implications of recent history are indeed “horrifying,” to use Mr. Stanley’s word. But how does it follow from this that we know nothing about the nature of man, or of conscience, or of evil? Surely the time has come for everyone to stop bragging about “our inability to comprehend” the ghastly events of our age—as though this inability were by itself a mark of great “profundity.” In any case, what I think I know about the nature of conscience, for example, is that if Eichmann can be said to have had one, then the word has no meaning.
  3. While it is true that many Germans joined the Nazi party for opportunistic reasons (though not in the early years, when Eichmann joined), I still find it hard to believe that it would be possible for anyone who wasn’t an anti-Semite to be a Nazi. This does not, of course, mean that anti-Semitism had to be the primary motivation for joining—but then I never said that it did.
  4. I have been convinced that I was wrong about the duties of a prosecutor in an adversary proceeding, and I wish to withdraw the point.

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To the Editor:

I agree with a lot that Irving Howe has to say in his comment on “Hannah Arendt and the New Yorker” [October '63]. But his statement gives the impression that any articulate person could take issue with her (or with Mr. Trilling or anyone else) in magazines that print rejoinders. That is so far from being the truth that most of us, when we think of what we would say in rejoinder to this or that, decide not to say it at all. Unless one belongs to the family circle of a particular magazine, or has a name as widely known as Frank Sinatra’s, one is not printed—except perhaps in a letter of two or three lines—in Partisan Review or anywhere else. My hope that this letter itself will get printed is based on three things: first, that I know the editor personally; second, that it is extremely brief; and third, that my name has been before many of the readers of COMMENTARY for nearly two decades. All of which has implications fatal to Mr. Howe’s notion that discussion is abundant and representative outside of magazines that don’t print any.

Eric Bentley
New York City

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To the Editor:

Mr. Howe criticized the fact that the New Yorker permitted its “mass audience” to read the Hannah Arendt articles without some sort of outside commentary or opportunity for rebuttal. Why does Mr. Howe limit this criticism to the New Yorker? Using similar logic, the publisher of this book (or any other serious book) should be criticized for not providing each purchaser with such a commentary . . . . There is no doubt a problem in this country arising out of the fact that almost all the mass communications media present a uniform view of the complex issues facing the country, and consequently, there is little opportunity for the people to be made aware of all the facets of these issues. But Howe’s thesis that the publication of Eichmann in Jerusalem by the New Yorker is part of that larger problem is ludicrous.

I think the “mass audience” of the New Yorker magazine as well as any other reader of Hannah Arendt’s articles would feel more compassion toward the Jews and the Jewish leaders after reading the book than before. There is much in the book worthy of intelligent discussion. . . . Hannah Arendt has called for reason, and her critics appear to be relying on emotion.

Alan E. Bandler
New York City

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To the Editor:

I agree with Mr. Howe that “the nature of modern journalism and the peculiar powers it enjoys” pose a serious problem, but surely there are more errors of fact, twisted truths, and dangerous distortions in a single issue of the average newspaper than in several years’ issues of the New Yorker.

As a reputable scholar, Mr. Howe was, I assume, correct in saying that Hannah Arendt’s articles on Eichmann erroneously minimized the heroism of European Jews under Nazism. What is disturbing, however, about Mr. Howe and other of Miss Arendt’s critics is their preoccupation with this single aspect of her work.

When six million human beings are methodically slaughtered, individual heroism, as well as individual cowardice, pale into insignificance beside the enormity of the crime and the necessity for preventing its recurrence. It seems to me that Miss Arendt’s message to all those “good middle-class Americans” who read the New Yorker was that while we all know how to react . . . if we see a child drowning or a thug beating up an old lady, there are events which are too overwhelming to comprehend, which fall outside our normal value system . . . Miss Arendt’s approach . . . is especially significant . . . in view of America’s position at the moment. With our nation controlling an almost inconceivable destructive force, a substantial minority of United States Senators openly oppose any and all. steps toward disarmament. A majority of Senators, during the test-ban debate, made it clear that they favored the treaty only because the United States already has enough nuclear power to destroy Russia. . . . In California we have a number of pretty orange and black signs on the streets, indicating nearby bomb shelters. It is conceivable that most of us are in the process of being herded slowly, and largely without protest, toward these crematoria of tomorrow. . . .

In view of this, it seems unfortunate that intellectuals like Mr. Howe are in effect obscuring Miss Arendt’s message by arguing about facts which are, in the face of present reality, largely irrelevant. What Miss Arendt’s articles have shown us all—Jews and Gentiles—is that potentially we are, at the same time, in the position of becoming both Eichmann and his six million victims.

Rachelle Marshall
Portola Valley, California

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To the Editor:

. . . Mr. Howe’s contention that Hannah Arendt’s articles reached “a mass audience almost certainly unequipped to judge them critically,” is not a very valid criticism.

Not only were Miss Arendt’s articles long and difficult and, . . . certainly above the average level, but they elicited strong rebuttals from nearly every quarter and every journal worth its salt. . . . Thus, Mr. Howe’s “feeble” protest . . . should have been saved for an author who received a less active press (and, also, pulpit—for I am sure that the Jewish community has done a fairly thorough job of damning Hannah Arendt’s work).

As far as the Nero Yorker is concerned, they served the public, even if they never intended to—and they served the intellectual community (could, for instance, COMMENTARY afford to publish an article so long and so hostile?).

Stephen D. Bryen
Rutgers University
Pennsauken, New Jersey

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To the Editor:

I cannot resist commenting on Irving Howe’s statement about Lionel Trilling’s essay, “The Fate of Pleasure,” which, he says, “I take to be a full-scale attack on the modernist outlook in thought and literature.” The vision this conjures up of Mr. Trilling coming out roaring and whirling a club around his head in his “full-scale attack” is so uproariously incongruous with the reality of the man, that . . . it is just as well Howe felt so languid about rebutting the Trilling argument. That particular essay happened to be a fine example of the highly convoluted, intensely cautious way Mr. Trilling habitually deals with his subjects, seeing all sides of the question from beginning to end—whether he wants to or not! One might say that Lionel Trilling seems doomed, even when he starts out wanting to attack something, to end up unable to throw the opposition out of court, because they have a case, and he cannot help seeing it. The very essence of his critical style is that of a man alone in the jungle, treading his way carefully among the hungry beasts on all sides . . . continuing safe only to the extent that he can stretch his empathy—and his wits—to contain all of them, and just possibly, by the sheer force of that empathy, gentle and civilize the creatures a little. . . . This is his way as a teacher and as a writer. It is of the very essence of liberality, of moderation, of mediation. Mr. Trilling is a great mediator by temperament and by a very personal art he has developed. . . .

But this incident casts a light on a previous one that has puzzled me for years . . . I am referring to that virulent flood of hate-Trilling letters in the Times, after he had spoken at a Robert Frost celebration—a birthday dinner, I think—and in an effort to escape from the usual banalities of such occasions, had boldly said that Frost’s poems were “terrifying,” hardly a statement to bring out all the latent murderous impulses in the breasts of retired Columbia professors dotting the Vermont landscape, one would think?

But this slip of Irving Howe’s . . . is a clue to what all that fury was about. Why does Howe see a full-scale attack in this unlikely place? Because he, even he, rabbinical-mannered scholar that he is, needs to see combat, evidently. . . . Woe to the mediator, for both sides to the dispute will turn and rend him at the first word that betrays a lack of partisanship.

Not that it matters. Lionel Trilling can take excellent care of himself, of course. But it is entertaining to understand the situation—and to understand, at long last, why I have so long been reading his essays as though they were adventure stories. . . . Will civilization, urbanity, intelligence, survive in the everlasting jungle is the implied problem in each.

Sophie Wilkins
New York City

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Mr. Howe writes:

Mr. Bentley is wrong in fact and shaky in logic. He need only look at any issue of COMMENTARY—or at many other magazines ranging from Harper’s to Dissent—and he will find letters from people who are neither friends of the editor nor famous literary critics. But suppose Mr. Bentley were right about other magazines: how would that affect my criticism of the New Yorker? For even if magazines devoted to free discussion sometimes fail to practice it sufficiently, that remains a vastly different matter from a total refusal to print any rejoinders. And in regard to the Arendt articles, there was a special arrogance in the New Yorker’s refusal: it would not give an inch of space to distinguished Jewish scholars and spokesmen who were prepared to point out the numerous factual errors and historical, distortions of which Miss Arendt had been guilty.

Why, asks Mr. Bandler, do I limit my criticism to the New Yorker? For a simple reason: that is where Miss Arendt’s articles first appeared. And for a second reason: almost any other magazine would have allowed some rebuttal in its pages. When the New Yorker was merely a magazine of amusement, it had no obligation to open its pages to discussion. Now that it ventures into the Serious, it has a responsibility to let its readers find out for themselves that reputable scholars judge Miss Arendt’s work to be shoddy. By now there has been a very large accumulation of detailed factual rebuttal, most of it, alas, in magazines of small circulation. For Mr. Bandler. in view of this fact, to say that Miss Arendt “has called for reason” while her critics “appear to be relying on emotion,” strikes me as utter impudence.

Miss Marshall’s comments testify to the liberality of her sentiments, not to the cogency of her thought. To say that Hannah Arendt has shown us all that we are potentially “in the position of becoming both Eichmann and his six million victims” is nonsense—though the kind of nonsense encouraged, I suspect, by Miss Arendt’s book. I know myself to possess the usual portion of human evil, and perhaps a little more; but while I can see myself as one of Eichmann’s victims, I do not for a moment believe that I—or Hannah Arendt or Rachelle Marshall—could ever be an Eichmann. And that is one reason for regarding the view that Eichmann and/or his kind of evil are banal . . . as itself banal.

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