Friday, March 16, 2007

Willful Blindness

I begin to profoundly understand how Hitler got away with doing what he did. The Germans said they didn't see what was happening, so they couldn't stop it. America is engaged in the same willful blindness right now.

Here's a FlickFilosopher movie review of The Pianist and three other Hitler films, excerpted:

It's the slow building of the Nazi oppression that lends a hint of understanding as to how they got away with their crimes. If the Nazis had started rounding up Jews and other "undesirables" the day they marched into Warsaw, there'd likely have been a huge outcry. But when the persecution starts out as minor inconveniences, it doesn't seem so bad.

Though you want to cry out for Szpilman and his family and friends to resist right from the beginning -- we know now that wearing gold stars isn't just an indignity but a softening up for greater horrors to come -- it's sadly understandable why they submit, complaining, yes, but willingly.

And when each step on the climb from inconvenience to genocide hardly seems worse than the previous one... The Pianist builds slowly but inexorably toward what is inevitable only with our historical hindsight, and the film's great power is in showing us how the inevitable wasn't obvious at the time.

And in that power, the film serves as a potent admonition for us today, living in a political climate defined by the PATRIOT Act and Total Information Awareness, that oppression must be fought at every step lest we become desensitized to it until it's far too late to do anything about it.


  • It's the story of the frog. If you put a frog into boiling water, he/she will quickly jump out. If the water is heated slowly, he/she doesn't notice what is happening and succumbs.

    Of the four movies, the only one I've seen is "The Pianist." It was harrowing indeed and maybe the worst moment was the ending; after the Russian soldiers arrive and "liberate,' the destroyed city. The German who had protected Spzilman and saved his life is herded off to a camp to be deported to Russia.

    Additional comment - the "banality of evil." Hannah Arendt.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 5:04 PM  

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