Münkler: 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).
SPIEGEL ONLINE: At Ground Zero in
, people openly rejoiced about the death of bin Laden. The images were reminiscent of Muslims celebrating in the Gaza Strip after the 9/11 attacks. Do you think that is acceptable? New York
Münkler: For European observers, these kinds of public gatherings are indeed somewhat embarrassing, because they demonstrate a kind of unthinking naïveté, and also because there is something provocative about them. But it was only a small number of Americans who demonstrated their feelings so openly, just as in 2001 it was only a few Muslims who were happy about the thousands who were killed in the terror attacks. Nevertheless, the photos of the revelers at Ground Zero have now become the definitive symbol of the entire nation’s mood. That is something that cannot be changed, unfortunately.