Hitler. Stalin. Ivan the Terrible. We all love these guys. Which is to say, we hate them and everything they stand for, but we're secretly glad they existed. Otherwise we'd have to learn about the cultural and political tensions behind world history, as opposed to boiling it down to "there was a bad guy who made crap happen because he was evil."
But sometimes in our haste to find a villain in every situation, we wind up painting some people as cackling cartoon villains when they were really just random guys, or even pretty awesome. Here are a few names you might want to give a second chance:
You Know Him As:
Genghis Khan was a barely-coherent fount of animalistic violence, who tore across Asia with his horde of barbarians laying waste to every village in his path, killing the men, raping the women, eating the children, killing and raping the livestock, burning everything down then raping and eating the ashes, etc. Anything that fits under a modern white person's notion of "pillage," Khan did while laughing a guttural, jackal-like laugh.
But in Reality:
What would you think of a guy who brought all the gangs of South Central Los Angeles together into one happy community? Well, deepen the grudges by about a millennium and expand the whole thing to cover one and a half million square miles, and you've got the task Genghis Khan achieved before he was even famous.
Back in the day, Mongolia was just a bunch of scattered nomadic tribes who would wander around, kill each other, wander around some more and basically be laughably irrelevant on a global scale. Then Genghis came along and united the entire clusterfuck in a couple of decades.
And if you're wondering if his "peace talks" were conducted by a thousand burly men with clubs, sorry, Genghis was always more of a politician than a psychopath. He attracted the allegiance of other tribes by spreading the word that life under his rule was crazy awesome. He did away with the sacred Mongolian tradition of "Fuck the soldiers, just fuck 'em" by allowing defeated enemies to join, giving the men a share in the spoils of war and basing promotions on merit rather than politics. Soldiers had never been treated so well by a commander before, or if you think about it, since.
So once he'd turned Mongolia into one big happy family, his next job was to keep them that way. He figured if the people were left to their own devices they'd get antsy and just drift back into the wandering around and killing each other for lack of a better idea, so he arranged activities to keep them organized, like massive hunts or conquering all of mainland Asia. Seriously, that's a leading theory, that Genghis had his armies invade everything in sight as some kind of team-building exercise. Beats the shit out of softball.