Here’s a lead-in that NPR listeners heard last week: “Two evil geniuses of the twentieth century died nearly the same time, after surviving the century they helped shape. Commentator Andre Codrescu on two other deaths we marked this week.”
Some excerpts from the NPR commentator’s remarks: “The thing that accounts for Teller and Riefenstahl’s longevity is the same thing that accounts for ours. That is to say, if Teller’s hydrogen bomb had ever been used, none of us would have been around long enough to survive the twentieth century. And, if Riefenstahl’s Hitler had had his way, the same would be true. Happily they both failed and here we are, wondering what it’s all about. . . .
“From the intentional standpoint, there is no equivalency between them. Edward Teller’s H-bomb was created as a deterrent to evil such as Hitler, though his name happened to be Stalin. . . . On the other hand, the H-bomb still has the potential to annihilate us, as do neo-Nazis just waiting to be unleashed by the right movie. The passing of Teller and Riefenstahl marks the true end of the twentieth century. My guess is that Edward and Leni are together in the next world. They have eternity to work out the implications of their work.”
Listen to the whole thing, if you’d like.