Two thousand years ago, a Roman politician would have been able to publicly express his pleasure at getting his revenge. The crucial difference is that Western politicians today are people who are influenced by Christianity, people who are bound to the idea of mercy. Only someone who believes in the existence of ‘evil’ and who does not explain ‘evil’ in terms of an unhappy childhood, someone who upholds the Old Testament principle of an eye for eye and a tooth for tooth, is justified in publicly expressing their joy at the death of an enemy and their satisfaction at getting revenge. The Americans’ reactions to bin Laden’s death therefore mainly reflect the fact that they have different values (from Europeans).
Why yes we do — As James Lileks once wrote:
And if we seem arrogant when it comes to beating fascism, forgive us once more, for we have something you don’t.
And am I the only one who getting nervous about a German putting quotation marks around the word evil? That didn’t exactly work out so well the first time it was tried.
Incidentally, the article in Der Spiegel is titled, “Europeans Find the Ground Zero Celebrations Somewhat Embarrassing.” As Orrin Judd notes, perhaps it reminds them too much of this earlier Manhattan celebration.
Related: In contrast, the Dalai Lama on bin Laden: Sometimes a SEAL’s gotta do what a SEAL’s gotta do.”