The Banality of Evil: Why Joe Paterno is just as terrible as Barack Obama and Adolph Eichmann

Hannah Arndt upon witnessing the trial of Adolph Eichmann, one of the Holocaust organizers against the Jewish people, was shocked that Eichmann did not appear in public to be a vile monster oozing desire for death and mayhem. Instead, he maintained an apparent, “everydayness” that shocked her, leaving her to conclude that evil does not come from malevolence or a delight in doing wrong. Instead she suggested the reasons people act in such a way is that they fall victim to failures in thinking and judgments. In Eichmann’s situation he allowed himself to believe that by killing Jews, he was doing good-by the Nazi Party. Killing a millions of Jews made tens of millions of Germans happy, so he rationalized his sinister actions as party loyalty. As ridiculous as that sounds such evil is not regulated to an event long ago, in a far away land. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, recently released a report that shows Penn State coaching legend Joe Paterno and the rest of university leadership knew that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was anally raping young boys and they conspired to cover it up from the public to protect the university.

The crimes against children advocated by a major college university is a very serious crime. Yet, Penn State is not alone. At this very moment, many such crimes are being committed right now, and many people know about it, and like Joe Paterno, they will put the good of the institutions they serve ahead of their individual sense of right and wrong. This essentially is no different from what Adolph Eichmann was doing as a founder of the Holocaust death camps. When Joe Paterno spoke, people listened, and to this very day hundreds of thousands of people are shattered to learn that a person they looked up to let them down, and they are seeking to rationalize Paterno’s evil with the same observations that Hannah Arndt observed.

The evil at Penn State began with a sick lust for pedophilia by the defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The Freeh report shows that the entire university knew about the crimes, yet their approach was to cover it up and quietly remove Sandusky from the public eye allowing him to retire hoping the scandal would disappear. The leadership at Penn State was afraid of the loss of enrollment into their school if such a public relations nightmare escaped their control. It is well-known that colleges depend on college sports to justify their extraordinary social costs in tax money consumed and actual services offered to society. Through sports, colleges unify their students, the parents and the communities who pay the taxes into a sense of collectivism that rationalizes evil in favor of the institutional success.

Unforgivable evils are committed when institutions and their sanctity surpass the value of an individual. Paterno no matter what he felt about the anal rapes of young boys in the showers just outside of his office placed the value of Penn State above the value of the boys being raped. Every member of Penn State leadership contributed to the evil by seeking ways to cover up Sandusky’s acts instead of helping the young boys, because to them, they were following the concept of Marxism, the needs of the many out-weigh the needs of the few. It was Spock who said that in the Star Trek film The Wrath of Khan, which is the contemporary example of Jeremy Bentham’s 1789 book The Principles of Morals and Legislation where he states all social and political decisions should be made with the aim of achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Bentham’s premise is collectivism, Spock’s premise is collectivism, and Paterno’s premise is collectivism. All believe that the evils committed against individuals do not outweigh the survival of the collective institution.

In the Penn State case officials had been taught all their lives to regard such examples of collectivism as an honorable thing and are dumbfounded as to how to respond Sandusky’s antics. Do they suspend Penn State from the juggernaut Big Ten football participation? If they do that what will happen to all the revenue attached to Penn State Football, or even the Big Ten? Even officials in the NCAA are willing to look the other way to save their institutional commitment to Big Ten Football. They will do something now that the FBI forced their hand, but prior to all this, they looked the other way. Everyone knew about Jerry Sandusky’s obsession with little boys, that’s why nobody offered him a football job after he retired. ESPN is in the same boat. They make their livings talking about the great distraction of sports, and such scandals might turn people away from sports, which could seriously harm revenue.

Right now It’s well known that President Obama is undoing America. Since he took office American wealth has declined by 40%! Obama because of a commitment to his biological father’s beliefs in anti colonialism is committed to the big idea of leveling America from a wealth standpoint so that Brazil, Venezuela and other small countries can thrive. Being a globalist, Obama trusts the institution of government as the means to equalize the world. He does not consider the impact on individual American lives, or even the life of America as a country. He is a global citizen, who is concerned about the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.

Coming back around to why Obama is evil for destroying America, or Paterno is evil for hiding crimes to preserve the university, or Eichmann was evil for killing Jews, they all share in common a commitment to collectivism where their evil is justified by their dedication to making the greatest number of people happy. For Paterno, what made people the most happy, a football win on a cool Saturday afternoon against a Big Ten rival or seeing one of their beloved icons going to jail for raping little boys. The answer is in his actions, and because he tried to make people happy, they loved him for it—even to the extent of being in denial that one of their personal heroes committed evil.

Evil is seldom ever as pronounced as the villains we see in our movies and read in our books. It would be nice if they wore scary masks and spoke with sinister tongues so we could know that they are evil people. Hannah Arndt believed that she would see in Eichmann a monster during his trial, but instead she saw another human being eerily similar to herself, which was a frightening prospect. It’s frightening because we all want to know we’d be able to identify evil if it confronts us, and when people we think are good turn out to do evil, vile things, it leaves an unsettling feeling that disrupts our happiness greatly.

The unlikely indicator of evil is not to look for it in menacing social features, but in the actions of the people being observed. The chances are very great that if a person tends to serve institutions before their own interests, they have a tendency toward evil. If a person rationalizes the sins of singular acts by placing focus on a collective whole, then evil is the motivator. Evil lives and breathes in collectivism. Jerry Sandusky had a charity not for the sake of helping young men, but as a way to bring young men to his pedophilic desires. And Joe Paterno knew about Sandusky’s exploits and chose the happiness of the greatest number instead of rights of individuals. That’s why Joe Paterno is just as evil as Adolph Eichmann, or Barack Obama—because all these evil people seek personal redemption through collective salvation—which is the pathway to hell, paved with good intentions.


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