Saturday, February 14, 2009

Primo Levi and the Common Man

** Today I hired a second man to help with the Campus Campaign. I can’t keep up with it by myself. The work isn’t complicated, but there is a lot of follow-though involved. Time con-suming. He lives close by, speaks English, and has a history of working in journalism. Contribu-tions are up a bit, so I can pay him. I have three part-time workers now. Two helping with the Campus Campaign, and my wife helping with the mail and shipping. We do all the work in the house here. Most of it in the one room looking out on the little patio that was my Mother’s bed-room when she died. I am reminded that the budget for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum last year was over fifty million (50,000,000) dollars. And that is only a fragment of the monies invested by the Holocaust Marketing Industry to forward their story. And crush ours. What are the odds?

** I’ve just run across some misfiled documents, including one for a “Perpetrators” conference held last month in Germany. I was going to do some work with it but it got away from me. An initial announcement for the conference quotes Primo Levi.

"Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men."

I haven’t read Levi. I’ve had him around for years but never picked him up. It’s the same with most of the guys lying around here, with a lady or two in the mix. But I like what Levi says here. Monsters exist, but the common men are more dangerous.

That is, the common men are responsible for all the killing. Men like me. The monsters can only become monsters with the principled, enthusiastic help of common men. It wasn’t President Bush who did the killing in Iraq. He is not a monster. It was the common men who did the killing, who are doing it today. The same is obvious in all our great wars in the name of our various principles. There was a time when great leaders did commit themselves to the killing, Alexander comes to mind first, but no more.

The Bill O’Reillys also come to mind. All those folk who pray today for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and who will pray for all the common men who kill there and who will kill in next war organized in the name of this or that. If the one man who kills another is not responsible for that killing, who is? I’m not saying that no killing of a man can ever be justified. I am saying that the man who does the killing is responsible for that killing. And he is invariably, the exceptions are so rare they are completely insignificant in the nature of things, the common man.

I am no exception. Or was not when I was young. I’ve written about that elsewhere. I did not exhaust the subject, but I did write about it. The romance of battle in the mind of a boy, a teenager, a young soldier volunteering to place himself in a context where it would be a good to kill and risk being killed. Not on principle, but for the fun of it. The excitement. Always with the stories of great and romantic battles written down in books by admirable men who admired how admirably common men killed. And all the wonderful stories of the killings carried about brilliantly in memory. The romance of it all.

What could be more romantic, tell me, than commonplace Jews killing Palestinians in Gaza? Men, women, children? Anyone who gets in the way?

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