Evil, according to Baumeister, should be defined from the viewpoint of the victim as a basis for rational judgment. The conflict arises when we fail to capture the whole picture based on the perpetrator, which may lead us to have a bias opinion (Baumeister 1). In this discussion, it is essential to build an understanding of Baumeister, which guides the context of the argument based on Osama Bin Laden’s role in Terror. The question we will address is why many people painted a bad picture of him and how we can counter the perceptions held.
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The first feature examined by Baumeister in the myth of evil is the intention of causing harm (Baumeister 2). He looks into intentional and willing harm and excludes harm meant to suit one need. David Brooks, a syndicated columnist, draws back to the time when Soviet attacked Afghanistan, and Osama was driven by the need to defend his Afghan territory (par. 10). He led other loyalist Arab fighters though he was not skilled in fighting to reinforce their territory. In the event, he survived a bombing, which led him to justify the rationale of defensive war. The writer argues that Osama was faced with real threats that probably might have led him to adopt radicalization to survive.
This leads us to the second mythical view of evil, which is said to be a means of self-gratification (Baumeister 4). Probably we can refer to Kant argument on the inclination of man to pleasure. This can be argued based on how Bin Laded executed his victims. The typical way was to admit responsibility for the crime and sometimes the terror victims tortured and held in camps. After the September 9/11 Terror attack, the Al-Qaeda would later admit their role and give credence for their success. In other instances, Terror Victims would be held hostage under inhumane conditions, and in worst scenarios, killed. Susan Donaldson, on ABC News, asks the question as to what would lead one to influence people into an action that causes loss of many lives (par. 1).
The victim is excused from bearing responsibility for the suffering meant on him (Baumeister 5). In Osama’s case, a historical account is given of his challenges during various stages of his life. This leads him to adopt a defensive attitude to life that makes him justify countering the enemy by use of aggression. One would, however, argue that Osama’s intentions were driven by a broader goal of redeeming the world and not necessarily to cause harm.
According to Baumeister, there is a myth that perpetrators of evil are seen to be different (6). About the events of World War II, he gives an account where the Americans and the Japanese treated each other with suspicion and regarded those not belonging to them as inferior or an incompetent race. Osama Bin Laden’s radical movement has, for a long time, treated the West with loath and organized his followers to jihad to defend their faith in all ways.
The US sees Osama’s actions resulting in violence as meant to justify Islamic extremism. He was viewed as a role model who advanced Muslim militant. He advanced negative ideology that called for the Muslims to be ready to shed blood in the context of their defiance on America’s support of Israel in the Middle East conflict (Montgomery and Canon par. 4).
Evil is depicted as having always been there. Based on this argument, when we look into the life and times of Osama Bin Laden, he is said to have been raised a humble and innocent boy. The events that shaped his life might have influenced his attitude to challenge the status quo. He is said to have been a shy child, admired the father, and would later be the inheritor of the family wealth.
Evil is sometimes associated with chaos. Man strives to create social order. This would lead us to the event that shaped the modern world, especially the chaos that preceded social contrast the time of Marx capitalist society. Osama life is painted to be cruel from the earlier invasion of enemies in his territory. Probably this could have justified the use of force to reinforce his presence; however, critics have argued that such use of violence is usually short and does not last. Probably others have seen democratic regimes insensitive to their demands and mobilized uprising by use of force. Osama is documented to have formed a sophisticated anti-organization or network that used propaganda against the West and justified war and bloodshed to counter the West ideology (Brooks par. 14).
The perpetrators of evil are seen to have inordinate egotism and are poor (Baumeister 15). From this mythical view that sees the perpetrators of evil to lack self- control, what would, therefore, be said of Osama Bin Laden? Facts given on him reveal that he gained wealth early in life and was the custodian of family business. He also gained influence, command, and respect, and thus cannot be said to have lacked anything. It would, therefore, be important to point out that his immense power and position might have been the possible drive to inflict more suffering and reinforce his influence. The Al-Qaeda network is said to be very rich, amassing great wealth and assets from members and volunteers. The father is said to be a wealthy construction Giant with a close link to the influential Saudi family.
From our discussion based on Baumeister’s argument on evil, it would, therefore, be necessary to point at the reasons why these arguments have been advanced. This brings us to the basic causes, which are further built on Baumeister’s work.
Psychologists have viewed one cause of evil to be instrumentality. People have a quest for power, wealth, prestige, and recognition, amongst other things. From our reference, Bin Laden has led Muslims to believe that the only way to spread their influence is through Jihad, which instills radical views to the members and has contributed to religious intolerance. Muslims have been led to believe that peace cannot guarantee their demands of domination; they are also reinforced to believe that war and bloodshed is the only way to have their rights met.
Threatened egotism, as earlier discussed, might have contributed to Osama resort to evil in a narrow view from his early life when he lost one of his parents to the unfortunate events that surrounded his life. However, Osama was wealthy in all areas of life and can be said to be self-sufficient. Baumeister counters this by arguing that in some instances, self-sufficiency does not guarantee one will not be evil; it just happens by chance (Baumeister 15).
From the discussions above, a social scientist would argue that Osama Bin Laden does not escape criticism for various reasons that I will argue below. Most of the harm that is associated with terror is not often intentional and deliberate. For instance, the September 9/11 attack that targeted the Americans could not be clearly understood. Probably it could have been driven by the deep hatred for the Americans on their stand against Terror. President Obama has been active in leading the war against Terror, and probably this might not auger well with the views propagated by the founder – Bin Laden
On the question as to whether Osama Bin Laden derives pleasure from Terror, it can be argued that the justification of the act and the media briefs that are usually held to identify with causes are meant to suite the perpetrators. In Osama Bin Laden’s case, he always feted the success of terrorist attacks.
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The victim role is often not put into consideration. Bin Laden’s jihad movements were targeted to specified territories that posed a threat to their supremacy. Bin Laden led his movement to believe that the war on their enemies was just, and did not consider their position; perhaps the reasons why sometimes the agents of terror targeted innocent men and women.
When it comes to perpetrators of evil being seen to be different, Bin Laden recognized Islam to be supreme, and the others were treated as enemies. This might have contributed to the passionate hatred on the West and their partners. In this case, evil is used to create barriers in religion and ideology.
Finally, on evil as evolutionary, one would argue that when evil is treated as always having been there, it is often necessary to trace its origin, which always escapes us. Bin Laden, from the historical upbringing, was always faced with challenges; the earlier invasion of Afghanistan and the ever-increasing aggression could point to the culture of war and suffering.
Baumeister, Roy. Human Evil: The mythical and the True causes of Violence 1997. Web.
Brooks, David. “Osama bin Laden: an enigmatic perpetrator of evil.” The Seattle Times, 2011. Web.
Donaldson, Susan. (2011). Evil Charisma: Osama Bin Laden had it, 2011. Web.
Montgomery Rick and Scott Canon. Osama bin Laden: Born into privilege, died in the face of evil, 2011. Web.