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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Senseless Violence

When Obama reacted to the Batman shootings by calling them "senseless violence,"* believe me, I understood that he was using a stock phrase to condemn them as really, really bad. Still, I think it is an unfortunate phrase. Our best hope for preventing such acts is to comprehend why they occurred: in other words, to see them as evil, but as making sense from an evil perspective. This was the importance of Hannah Arendt's work on the Holocaust: she presented it as an event that could be comprehended by understanding the events that led up to it. It's altogether too easy to respond to horrific evil by covering our eyes and claiming looking would do no good anyway, because it is all incomprehensible.

* And yes, I can see he did not use those words in that exact order, but the phrase is still embedded in the sentence he did speak.

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