Glorifying Bin Laden by comparison with Hitler

Yesterday, in my Inter-Travels I came across this post at Harry’s Place (hatip: SMASH).

It points a peice in the Observer which equates Islamic extremism with the G8s elitism as fanaticism in diferent forms. Here’s a quote:

The so-called war against terrorism is, in fact, a war between two fanaticisms. To bracket the two together seems outrageous. One is theocratic, the other positivist and secular. One is the fervent belief of a defensive minority, the other the unquestioned assumption of an amorphous, confident elite.

He is, of course, correct. The Wests’ pursuit of happiness has been relentless and ruthles and as I said in my previous post has done little to help those who are caught below the poverty line.

Harry then pulls out a quote from 1942 by D. S. Savage:

Fascism is not a force confined to any one nation. We can just as soon get it here as anywhere else. The characteristic markings of Fascism are: curtailment of individual and minority liberties; abolition of private life and private values and substitution of State life and public values (patriotism); external imposition of discipline (militarism); prevalence of mass-values and mass-mentality; falsification of intellectual activity under State pressure. These are all tendencies of present-day Britain…

The similarities in tone and feeling to todays protests against things like the Patriot Act and the like are obvious. However, I believe that those who hold up Hitler as an equivalent of Bin Laden are giving Bin Laden far too much credit.

Hitler was a power-crazed lunatic in control of an entire country… with a massive army capable of taking over the entirity of Europe and Russia if left alone. Like countless other tyrants before and after him, he ruled through fear, persecution and propaganda.

Bin Laden is far less than that. He is a criminal. A Bandit. If you want to equate him and his ilk to a figure of the past then use Al Capone because one day, like Capone, Bin Laden will be killed or emprisoned. His network, like the Mob will never be destroyed but it will be curtailed and rejected by the majority of those who support them now. Even now, Al Quaeda is an nothing more than a loosely connected network of fanatics.

Yes, Al Quaedas methods have been and will be far worse than the booze-running, gun toting antics of Capones mafia but that does not mean the most effective method of expulson is any less mundane.

By equating the War on Terrorism to WW2 and Bin Laden to Hitler people are needlessly pumping up Bin Ladens image. They are turning him into far more than what he is… in effect, they are helping Bin Laden achieve what he wants. They are doing the same by painting those who, like me, rail against the unneccessary curtailment of freedoms of private citizens, as supporters of Bin Laden. In the eyes of those who would be caught by Bin Ladens ideological trap, they are suggesting that Bin Laden has the ability to influence me and “the left” when of course he does not. The discussion must be kept to a level above that. We must all agree that Bin Laden must be stopped and his actions brought to a halt… but we must not limit ourselves from discussing the methods because the more we limit ourselves, the more victories Bin Laden gains.

The only equivalencies I can find between WW2 and todays War is the propaganda on both sides… and of that we must beware. We must not allow our emotions to overcome our common sense. We must not allow it to overpower our own privacy and freedom. We must not allow it to blind us to the truth.

Bin Laden is a criminal. We will defeat him and his network of bandits the same way we defeat any other criminal organization, unfortunately, it will require a far broader cooperation between states and a broad acceptance of the rule of law and human rights, for ALL the worlds citizens, to achieve victory.

Update

Smash says my “Common Sense” is a form of “Appeasement”.

Sounds like another one-liner… another easy way out… more thinking confined to a very small (sand) box.

Since when was the global support of efforts in Afghanistan “appeasement”? Since when was support of criminal investigations and suspension of criminal acts appeasement? Since when was demanding higher standards of autocratic regimes that we formally considered safe and stable sources of energy “appeasement”?

To those like Smash, I say, stop hiding behind 60 year oldDr. Seuss cartoons and tell us what you’re really thinking. Because “Appeasement” sounds to me more like propaganda than discussion and reality.

Update 2

Daniel Schwartz responds to me (through Smashs’ site):

Indeed, and true as far as it goes. But let us also not dismiss propaganda out of hand because it is propaganda, or because we perceive it to be. What’s true is true, even if the government endorses it. And when it’s not clear what is true and what is not, we must make our own decisions and follow our consciences.

I would also caution that we beware of labelling all wartime information as ‘propaganda’. This is easy to do, especially for those who prefer to discuss, debate, and philosophize, as an alternative to actually getting anything done. But wartime is, above all, a time for getting things done. We can always talk… but the time for winning the war, so that we don’t have to fight a more horrible one later, is now.

‘Nuff said.

Of course we cannot dismiss all information as propaganda. Like you said, when it is not clear we must make our own decisions. But discussion, debate and philosophizing is far from getting “nothing” done. Again, I point you to the effort in Afghanistan and the ongoing efforts of governments around the world to root out terrorist cells and plots before they strike. THe major difference we have is our position on Iraq and its’ role in this War. I see it as more of a tool of propaganda than a legitimate way to fight terrorism. In fact, I see Iraq as yet another weakness for Bin Laden and Al Quaeda to prod.

You seem to think “getting things done” must involve military action. This is, again, backwards thinking and merely plays into the hands of Bin Laden. In order for us to win we must treat him for what he is, a criminal mastermind and bandit. Only once this perception is realized by all will the War on Terror be won.

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One Response to Glorifying Bin Laden by comparison with Hitler

  1. David Billington says:

    Chris,

    “By equating the War on Terrorism to WW2 and Bin Laden to Hitler people are needlessly pumping up Bin Ladens image.”

    Hitler also started out on the fringes, with a failed attempt to overthrow the German government in 1923. In 1924 he wrote Mein Kampf, laying out his long-range plans. The Depression brought Hitler to power after 1930.

    Comparing Bin Laden now to Hitler in the 1920s makes a lot of sense, because if there is a crisis and revolution in Saudi Arabia, Bin Laden could take power there and inspire a larger revolution in the Arab world from which a radical Islamic superpower might emerge. There is every reason to try to prevent Bin Laden from doing that by warning of the danger now.

    “They are doing the same by painting those who, like me, rail against the unneccessary curtailment of freedoms of private citizens, as supporters of Bin Laden.”

    The problem with the debate over freedom in wartime is that in the case of the current war on terror there are two very novel conditions. One is that the war could be open-ended for decades instead of years as in past wars. The other is that the war is a combination of counter-insurgency and siege, in which we need (a) to separate the terrorist movement from its civilian support and (b) defend against attacks.

    The danger is that we may be too passive about (a). Curtailing our own domestic freedom while terrorists are free to blend into their civilian populations may not be a sustainable strategy and it could even be interpreted as a sign of weakness. Those who favor curtailing domestic freedom in the US should also favor severe consequences right now if other societies allow terrorists to have a degree of sanctuary in those societies.

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