A Merton Miscellany – Raids on the Unspeakable, Pt 2

The Sane Nazi

One of the most disturbing facts that acme out in the [Adolf] Eichmann trail was that a psychiatrist examined him and pronounced him perfectly sane. I do not doubt it at all, and that is precisely why I find it disturbing….The sanity of Eichmann is disturbing. We equate sanity with a sense of justice, with humaneness, with prudence, with the capacity to love and understand other people. We rely on the sane people of the world to preserve it from barbarism, madness, destruction. And now it begins to dawn on us that it is precisely the sane ones who are the most dangerous.

Who are the sane ones in our society?

It is the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missiles and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared.

No one suspects the sane, and the sane ones will have perfectly good reasons, logical, well-adjusted reasons, for firing the shot. They will be obeying sane orders that have come sanely down the chain of command. And because of their sanity, they will have no qualms at all. When the missiles take off, then, it will be no mistake.

Adolf Eichmann

What is sanity? Does it actually mean anything?

The whole concept of  sanity in a society where spiritual values have lost their meaning is itself meaningless.

The sane ones might just be okay with hell.

[The sane person may act coolly, calmly, and orderly.] He can be perfectly “adjusted”.God knows, perhaps such people can be perfectly adjusted even in hell itself.

Christian sanity leads to collusion.

The worst error is to imagine that a Christian must try to be “sane” like everybody else, that we belong in our kind of society. That we must be ‘realistic’ about it. We must develop a sane Christianity…We ought to be able to rationalize a little brainwashing, and genocide, and find a place for nuclear war or at least for napalm bomb,s in our moral theology.

Even Christians can shake off their sentimental prejudices about charity, and become sane like Eichmann.

It is those that oppose the status quo who are labelled the insane ones.

On the other hand, you will probably find that the pacifist and the ban-the-bomb people are, quite seriously, just as we read in Time, a little crazy.

Sanity without second-thought, without questions is the ultimate insanity.

…perhaps we must say that in a society like ours the worst insanity is to be totally without anxiety, totally ‘sane.’

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