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When the State Commands . . .

November 09, 1986

The juxtaposition of the two reviews, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide" and "My Father, My Son" (The Book Review, Oct. 12) provided a disturbing shock of recognition: Both the Nazi doctors and Adm. Zumwalt operate from exactly the same premise; namely, that when the State commands, the individual must suspend moral judgment and behavior. This process is made easier when a dehumanizing We/They dichotomy is set up. For the Nazi doctors, the living/pre-dead construct was sufficient; for Adm. Zumwalt, the American/Vietnamese.

Thank you for two excellent book reviews. Read together, they provided me with insights normally to be expected only from scholarly books and essays. As a result, I have a new, much-needed tool for analyzing and evaluating moral conduct, especially as it relates to individual responsibility and state manipulation.

NORMA LITMAN

Whittier

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