Several years ago, a writer named Charles Taylor had a piece (in Salon, I think) about his own response to 9-11. He was angry, to put it mildly. He described, in no ambiguous terms, what he would like to have done to the hijackers. When I posted a comment saying I felt enormous sorrow over the atrocities committed–over the realization that a group of extremists could hate America so much that they would give up their lives to destroy us, and that our country would almost certainly engage in one or more wars in retaliation–Mr. Taylor questioned the legitimacy of my un-angry reaction.
What made me think of this now is a recent conversation about a different subject: the savage rapes and murders of a family in Cheshire, Connecticut. As I read the proclamations by angry people who described, much as Charles Taylor had done years ago, their own fantasies about punishing/torturing the perpetrators of the Cheshire crimes, it occurred to me that, once again, I was way out of the mainstream in my profoundly sad, but not angry, reaction to that horror.