Awfully Ordinary

What happened to the evil genius? How bin Laden's tape cuts him down to size

The videotaped bin Laden coffee klatch has the distinctive atmosphere of evil with its feet up--sated, self-satisfied, laughing. It's a disturbing impression.

When evil performs in public, it usually comes onstage in full makeup, with lurid lighting and horrid effects, riding a horse backward. Here we see evil backstage, with its makeup off--the smirking, kicked-back thuggishness, say, of gangsters twirling pasta and gloating over the success of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

Mafiosi, of course, do not punctuate their conversation with "Allah is great!" and "Praise Allah!" The bin Laden home movie mixes ejaculations of piety with postgame Islamic towel snapping...

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