Bonhoeffer: Stupidity is a rotten enemy

More than a year ago I posted a quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor/theologian who was executed for his resistance to Hitler. He wrote these words after nine years of trying to help people see that Hitler was nothing but a cruel tyrant. He was always astounded that so many people actually liked it when Hitler bullied and bloodied his critics. Here’s what Bonhoeffer wrote:

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

Now that America has a significant sub-culture devoted to the wannabe tyrant named Trump, we need to ponder Bonhoeffer’s experience anew. Devotion to trump is utterly irrational but his supporters simply don’t care. They are mad (rightfully so) about the dysfunction in Washington and cheer for anyone who takes wild swings at others. Trump is cathartic. . .but he does not come within a million miles of being competent to hold public office at any level w2hatsoever.


About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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