Simon Cottee

Academic and Author

UnHerd

The theatre of terror

Perhaps it is shameful to admit it, but when 9/11 happened I felt a keen desire to watch the carnage. I was working as a labourer at the time and had knocked off early after hearing the news on the radio. I sat in front of the television and didn’t move from my father’s tobacco-stained living room until early evening.

ISIS and the Banlity of Evil

I used to think there was something demonically profound about Hannah Arendt’s diagnosis of Adolf Eichmann. He was “neither perverted nor sadistic… but terribly and terrifyingly normal”; he epitomised the “banality of evil”. Eichmann, in effect, was a bespectacled gimp who you wouldn’t look twice at in the street.

The Trivialisation of Trauma

Among academics and reporters who make it their business to watch horrifically violent material, there is a consensus that a propaganda video released by ISIS in September 2016 is the very worst of the worst: it shows alleged spies being killed in the most inhuman way.

We need to talk about terrorism

When, earlier this month, a 16-year-old boy became Britain’s youngest person to be convicted of terrorism offences, the British press responded with a mixture of disgust and incredulity, inquiring how someone so young could have become so fanatical. By all accounts, his career in violent extremism started at a remarkably early age: he joined a far-right internet forum when he was just 13. A year later, he had become a fully-fledged terrorist “mastermind” running a “Neo-Nazi cell” from his grandmother’s house in Cornwall.

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