Monday, November 26, 2018

Butler on Science, and Scale, and the Diffusion of Moral Responsibility

Fortunately there are still small communities where the Wicked Man is not yet woven so scientifically into the fabric of society that he cannot be extracted without stopping the trains and fusing the electric light.   It is not a coincidence that two small countries, Denmark and Bulgaria, stemmed the flow to Auschwitz better than any of their more powerful neighbours on the continent.  Apart from size the two countries have nothing in common.  The Bulgars are primitive, the Danes a highly sophisticated people.  They are no doubt individually as wicked as the rest of us, but wickedness still has a name and an address and a face.  When the rumor, a false one, went around Sofia that the government intended to deport its Jews, the citizens demonstrated outside the Palace and blocked the roads to the railway station.  In Denmark on the night of 1 October 1943, when the Jews heard they were to be rounded up, each family knew which Danish family was prepared to hide them.  Very few were caught.  At the Gare d'Austerlitz the Children of Drancy [4051 Jewish children who were deported from Paris to be gassed] were surrounded by the most civilized and humane people in Europe, but they were scarcely less isolated and abandoned than when they queued up naked for their "shower-bath" in the Polish forest.

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