The capture and assassination of Osama bin Laden has yielded some surprising news just one year later. First of all, turns out not every American wanted him dead, including Mitt Romney. Second of all, Al Qaeda, which has become synonymous with bin Laden’s name since 9/11, was not 100% behind keeping him alive.
In fact, many in bin Laden’s inner circle found his methods brutalizing and his manner dictatorial. When we think of our enemies, we often assume that they are of unified villainous mind, but actually it is more often common that as with most large groups, dissent and division are rife. Think of the parents in your pre-school community, for example.
The same was true of the Nazis – many felt ambivalent about the killings they were asked to carry out. Yes, a percentage, but only about 10% researchers think, was truly evil. Approximately 80% were conflicted, as local police reports taken afterward attest. Many times, Nazis fought amongst themselves about methodology, and specifically about execution. As hard as it may be to stomach, not all Nazis were monsters – and neither are all members of Al Qaeda.
The existence of diversity in these groups should not be surprising, but it shocks us somehow. It’s simpler to think in black and white, rather than shades of gray. And it’s unpleasant to consider our enemy to be like ourselves, though it’s logical – and accurate.