On February 18, 2010, A. Joseph Stack III, an amateur pilot, crashed his small airplane into a building that housed the Internal Revenue Service. He had been a software engineer and has been described as seemingly normal and a companionable family man.
He was somewhat like the Adolf Eichmann that Hannah Arendt wrote about, using the phrase "banality of evil." But Eichmann did his evil as a functionary in a fascistic governmental machine and Stack did his evil fighting what he thought was an evil governmental machine: the Internal Revenue Service.
Both Eichmann and Stack were not the kind of villains depicted in movie-comic-book art. Stack's mindlessness killed one innocent – not as bad as that other anti-government murdering fool Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168.
Stack's case was a failure to question a logic driven by primitive emotions. How many of us justify our emotional reactions with the kind of self-questioning that Arendt recommended? Meanwhile, the IRS survives well enough. What Stack leaves behind is not only the death of an innocent individual – despite his belief in individual freedom. And he leaves behind humiliation for his family, although it appears that he disliked humiliations as well as injustice.
Copyright © 2010-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.