How evil is Bin Laden?

Sure, he killed a bunch of people, but the truly evil people in the world have killed many more:

Bin Laden must be responsible for about 4,000 deaths (3,000 for 9/11 and say around 1,000 for everything else). That doesn’t even register on the radar of the real villains of history.

So, the question is, why are we paying so much attention to (and have so much fear about) this rather small-time crook?

One answer could be that his next attack *could * result in massive casualties (so we are “pre-emptively” afraid of him)

Or, maybe the media like (consciously or unconsciously) to cultivate a culture of fear.

Are there any other reasons?

What I want to know is, how come no one makes a big stink about the 10000+ innocent Iraqi civilians killed because of Bush?

I mean, if we are purely talking numbers, doesn’t that make him worse than Bin Laden? Are the deaths justifiable because he is the great and fearless leader of America, and we can do no wrong?

Someone seriously offer me an answer to this question. It defies all of the logic in my mind. :confused:

Each of the men you listed was associated with a country, bin Laden is not. I feel (alhtough it is simply an opinion) much of the fear of ObL comes from the fact he is nationless: a loose cannon and so unaccountable to threats like “We’ll invade your country” or “We’ll attack your people”. JMO

Well, I think taking a completely statistical look at things, bin Laden is nowhere near as evil as those other leaders you mentioned, Polerius; I never really thought of “evil” as a quantifiable characteristic, though. If you are wanting to gauge the evil-ness of someone, you would be better off looking at the person’s intentions, rather than their “successes”.

IMO, bin Laden has gotten so much of our attention (in the U.S., at least) because a lot of us were in a mindset of “oh, those things would never happen here in the U.S. of A.” When he proved us wrong, it was a big awakening, in a sense. And since the start of the Forever War on Terrorism, he’s never been allowed to leave the public eye.

The difference being, of course, those people had huge resources available to them since every single one was the ruler of a country for a period of time.

It’s not like bin-Laden has the resources to use a true army to begin systematically rounding people up and exterminating them.

Of course, using your analysis, was Hitler more evil than Stalin? Stalin killed a lot more people, but he also had a lot longer to do it and a greter population pool to do it to, without the biggest war in the history of the world commanding his resources for most of his reign.

Why is “number of deaths” the sole calculus? Jeffrey Dahmer only killed what, a couple of dozen?

I think things like motive and intent would count more than raw death tolls. Some of those killed by Mao were killed in famines brought about by stupid, but well-intentioned, policies; somehow I find those policies less horrible than the deliberate murder of a lesser number.

Do you have any doubt that ObL would have killed far more if he could?

This is why I don’t think we can measure how evil someone is, just by “looking at numbers”. As I mentioned in my above post, you need to look at the person’s intentions. Bush (as much as some people would like to believe) certainly did not invade Iraq simply to eradicate Iraqi civilians. Bin Laden, OTOH, organized (or headed) an attack on U.S. soil with the intention of killing civilians. Hitler wanted to rid the world of Jews. Ad infinitum.

It’s not that clear-cut, I think. Bin Laden wanted to attack the symbols of US capitalism (the World Trade Center), US military might (the Pentagon), and the US government (either the White House or the Capitol). I don’t think it’s so much that he set out to kill civilians as that he didn’t care about killing civilians as long as the symbolic points were made.

Bin Laden’s ultimate (or perhaps penultimate) goal is to get the US out of the Middle East, not to kill US citizens just for the hell of it.

Not that I’m excusing bin Laden. I just think the truth is a bit more nuanced than “Bin Laden is evil and wants to kill us all.”

Evilness aside, we pay a lot of attention to OBL because he attacked us. No doubt there’s some warlord in Africa right now who kills 4,000 people before lunch. The fact is that Bin Ladin is much more likely to kill me or mine though, and so from a purely selfish view deserves much more attention.

Also on preview, I agree with spoke. I don’t think OBL is really blood thirsty or insane the way, say, Jeffrey Dalmer or Pol Pot were. His crimes are still awful if he’s ever caught, he certainly deserves what he’ll get. But I think he sees terrorism as “diplomacy by other means”, not just something he does cause he likes the killin’

OK, maybe “just by looking at numbers”, it is hard to quantify evilness, but the numbers sure do help!

That is, other things being equal, someone who ordered the murder of millions is more evil than someone who did not order any murders.

Anyway, the point I was trying to get at in the OP is not to quantify evil, but to ask

I guess I could re-phrase the title of the thread to be “How evil/dangerous/frightening is Bin Laden?”

Jeffrey Dahmer killed a few people and was truly evil, but he wasn’t in the news all the time, didn’t inspire fear in the masses nor the leaders, and wasn’t being talked about on an international level.

Of course Bin Laden killed more people than Dahmer, but negligible, really, compared to the other mass killers of our times.

Yet, he inspired sweeping changes in U.S. law, in the way we travel, etc. The reaction seems disproportionate to his abilities.

Yeah, but again,OBL is a far greater danger to me then anyone else on your list was to an American (well, Hitler killed a lot more of Americans, but then he caused far greater changes to our way of life at the time then OBL has). If Pol Pot lived in Texas, he would cause far greater changes in US law then OBL has caused. If Stalin was launching pogroms in Seattle, OBL wouldn’t even make the front page anymore.

The US cares about people who hurt us far more then mass murders across the globe.

Thanks for correcting me, spoke-. In any case, bin Laden intended to kill U.S. civilians (though, probably didn’t expect to kill so many), whereas Bush’s intentions are to “smoke out the terrorists” (among other things), and happens to kill civilians along the way.

I surely won’t try to argue that point with you; the numbers do provide some insight (for lack of a better term, off the top of my head), if nothing else.

I can offer my opinion, but I admit: it may be partisan. :slight_smile:

I think that bin Laden has grabbed a hold of our attention so firmly because of: 1) his actions (9/11), and 2) the actions of this administration (e.g. be very afraid).

I will concede that since Dahmer didn’t kill thousands of people, bin Laden is automatically more “frightening”, but I also think that the fear has been perpetuated by people with no connection to bin Laden (some of our elected officials).

Another reason, IMO, is that “bin Laden” has basically become synonymous with the term “terrorist”. So, even when he is not mentioned by name, I think a lot of people probably picture him, in their head, when they hear the T-word.

The numbers should definitely count. Anytime I call the Catholic Church evil and sinister because of the Crusades and Inquisitions, I get replies of people saying “But but but…Stalin killed more people! And they were his OWN people.” So people trying to downplay the numbers is bullshit.

10,000 dead civilians still shows a complete disregard for any life that isn’t American, and with over 1000 dead soldiers in an unnecessary war, Bush doesn’t seem to care too much about our own people either.

“How evil”? What, is there a scale?

Evil enough, I’d say. He’s a born leader bent on fomenting deadly hatred throughout the world. He’s got maybe a few legitimate grievances, but he chooses to address those grievances by targeting innocents for slaughter. He’s a criminal and should be prosecuted, simple as that.

Ah, so because some people responded that way to something you once said, all the rest of us are obliged to be consistient with them.

Thanks for explaining.

He takes it to the transcendent level. He doesn’t kill for cynical reasons, for money, for politics, for lust. He kills in accordance with God’s will, which he is certain about. Like all great leaders, he is unswerving and determined, he stays the course.

But killing in the name of a religion…any religion…is especially repugnant, even an agnostic is repelled by blasphemy.

It’s a largely irrelevant point.

Oh and just so you know, when you destroy an office building during the middle of the work week, the intent is too kill the civilians inside. You may, however, continue to play Osama appologist if you like.

Pffft, there are tens of thousands of people dying every day in wars across the planet, no one gives a rat’s ass except Amnesty International, but really, who listens to Amnesty International…

Untold of millions have died in Africa and South America and Central Asia/India/China not attributed to any of those leaders. Still happening today. Not on the front page of any newspapers, now is it?

It goes to show: It isn’t how many people you kill - it is how you kill them. Osama did so (directly or indirectly, I doubt he actually had that much to do with the planning and execution stages of the attacks) in a spectacular fashion. As far as terrorist acts go, 9/11 is a 5 star extravaganza. Unparalleled in single-act villainy.

Now, when you just quietly slaughter a remote village in Sudan, no one notices, and thus, no one cares.

Bin Laden hurt the pride and arrogance of american power… that is his great evil. He is a son of a b****… and deserves to be labeled evil (though I don’t beleive in such quaint notions).

“One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.”

– Stalin