In the name of god, both men committed atrocities that rank among some of the worst the world has known. In 1925, Adolf Hitler wrote in "Mein Kampf," "By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." Osama bin Laden said, "Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God."
Both Hitler and bin Laden determined that their groups -- Aryans for Hitler, Muslims for OBL -- were superior by nature. These were difficult arguments to maintain, however, because their superior groups weren't as powerful as their alleged inferiors. So they each created their own scapegoats.
Hitler blamed "the Jews" for keeping down his Master Race. "Wherever I went, I began to see Jews, and the more I saw, the more sharply they became distinguished in my eyes from the rest of humanity," Hitler wrote.
His disciple, bin Laden, targeted Americans, Jews and "infidels." Like Hitler, OBL took the mere presence of others to be synonymous with actual assault. "The people became aware that their main problems were caused by the American occupiers and their puppets in the Saudi regime," he once explained, "whether this was from the religious aspect or other aspects in their everyday lives." And: "America has spearheaded the crusade against the Islamic nation, sending tens of thousands of troops to the land of the two Holy Mosques," said bin Laden. You'd think American troops were attacking Saudis. But the real affront was American military superiority -- cause for OBL's charge of "humiliation."
Both fanatics blamed moderates as the reason their group was not pre- eminent. Hitler complained of Germans' "steadily increasing habit of doing things by halves." OBL warned, "Whoever denies even a minor tenet of our religion commits the gravest sin in Islam."
Both said that their side deserved defeat for not being radical enough. Hitler called Germany's WWI defeat "more than deserved." OBL said the wildly disparate Saudi society "is a curse put on them by Allah for not objecting to the oppressive and illegitimate behaviors and measures of the ruling regime."
Both men complained that they were persecuted for their beliefs. "Mein Kampf" -- German for "my struggle" -- told the saga of Hitler's battle for power, including his jail time. OBL could have penned "Mein Jihad," as he railed against the "confiscation of human rights" and that co-believers "were ridiculed, prevented from travel, punished and even jailed." An odd indignation from men who had other people killed for being dissidents, Jewish or American, or for being nearby Americans.
Hitler wrote that terror "will always be successful unless opposed by equal terror." OBL told journalist David Bamber: "There are two types of terror, good and bad. What we are practicing is good terror."
Hitler wrote that Germany would be free only when its "international poisoners are exterminated." OBL has proclaimed a jihad against Americans, infidels and Jews, with civilians as fair game.
My generation frequently has wondered how the world could not have been alert to the evil of Hitler, especially after he made his insane, murderous agenda clear in "Mein Kampf." Today, many anti-war types have been willing to paper over the bloody plans of bin Laden, so hungry are they to make America the world's villain.