Planned Parenthood and the Banality of Evil

An ordinary woman

Nucatola: An ordinary woman

Her words can’t be bent. Her words can’t be turned and made to point in some direction other than the direction in which they do point. Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the Senior Director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood, and the doctor featured in the first video of the Center For Medical Progress, spoke with stunning casualness of the harvesting of organs from Planned Parenthood’s many aborted fetuses. Even if (which I doubt) Planned Parenthood did not violate the law by “selling” those organs  at a “profit,” no amount of legal justification can alter the impression–the fact–that this is a person who has acted with the utmost cruelty toward her fellow human beings. And she has done it from within the protective shell of an organization that has made her actions appear routine and acceptable.

This is truly the “banality of evil,” a phrase coined–and a truth proclaimed–by Jewish intellectual Hannah Arendt.

In 1960, Israeli authorities seized Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann in Argentina and shipped him back to Israel to stand trial. Arendt, a German Jew who had fled to the United States during World War II, took on an assignment for The New Yorker to report on the proceedings. Arendt stunned the world by arguing that Eichmann was not a “monster” but rather a fairly ordinary man. Arendt did believe Eichmann was a stupid man; a man who thought and spoke in cliches; a man comfortable with merely following orders; a man satisfied with legal justification for his actions; a man who had surrendered conscience and moral agency to others–but not a monster. For Arendt, Eichmann demonstrated that great evil did not require a grand human agent, hell-bent on wrong and wickedly delighting in it. Rather, great evil could be commonplace, ordinary, banal–the work of ordinary people.

Eichmann - an ordinary man.

Eichmann: An ordinary man

Arendt stunned her fellow Jews, above all, some of whom confused her concept of the “banality of evil” with moral relativism and sympathy for Eichmann. How could she say Eichmann was an ordinary man? Would that not mean that what he did was merely an ordinary evil, and therefore a not so grave one?  But that was just the point: ordinary people are capable of immense evil, and under circumstances favorable to that evil, they do commit the evil they are capable of.

Dr. Nucatola gives every appearance of being a fairly normal person. She has made her way through modern America with apparent success. She is a college graduate and a physician. She has a “good job” in a “respected” American organization. She is on LinkedIn. She probably loves either dogs or cats. Her conversation in that video mostly suggests the commonplace. Only her gross callousness toward the corpses of the aborted unborn gives her away as a mass killer. Dr. Nucatola has worked for Planned Parenthood for some ten years. In all likelihood she has had a hand in the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of unborn children.

It is so hard for many Americans to accept that a great evil occurs daily in their midst. They are lulled into thinking that only extremely evil persons are capable of extreme evil. This is how Planned Parenthood thinks. This is how Planned Parenthood wants us to go on thinking. The truth of the banality of evil is otherwise. Wherever a structure of evil is firmly in place, great evil can be committed by persons who are not themselves as evil as their actions. Planned Parenthood is one such structure of evil. It has made evil banal. Without it, people like Dr. Nucatola would probably find their way to leading harmless or even beneficial lives. With it, monstrous acts have become commonplace and the face of evil has become an ordinary face. And that is why Planned Parenthood must be destroyed.

One response

  1. Thank you for this essay. It reminds us of large and small evils we witness or, perhaps, participate in to get along, just be nice, or just do our jobs. The banality of evil is common. Each of us must invoke our courage to make good choices for right reasons. We must practice every day until good choices become habits. It’s a tough gig but we can do this.

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