Lamech brags that this is not "eye for an eye" justice. This is "life for an eye." Of course, that's not justice. It's vengeance that is exponentially escalated. You might be shocked and saddened that George Zimmerman was found not guilty. Or you might think the verdict makes perfect sense. Either way, perhaps its worthwhile to note that Lamech-like violence is an integral part of what America is.
Consider the following examples, which are collected on pages 132-133 of Peter Leithart's book Between Babel and Beast: American Empires in Perspective (I've included the sources that Leithart cites as well, where relevant).
- The attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,000+ Americans and injured 1,000+ more. But "in the last five months of WWII, American bombing killed more than 900,000 civilians (civilians), not counting the casualties from the atomic strikes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is more than twice the total number of combat deaths (441, 513) the United States has suffered in all its foreign wars combined." (Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World, 218) The nuclear attacks killed over 127,000 civilians to total over 1 million Japanese civilians dead.
- "More Germans civilians died in the three-night-long Anglo-American firebombing of Dresden than American soldiers died in World War I...At the time the Dresden raids constituted the largest slaughter of civilians by military forces in one place at one time since the campaigns of Genghis Khan." (Mead, Special Providence, 219).
- 1 million (North) Koreans (out of population of 9.4 million) died as a result of American forces action from 1950-53. The ratio of Korean civilians killed to American soldiers was almost 30:1. Not quite 77 times, but getting there. (Mead, Special Providence, 219).
- In Vietnam, the ratio was 8:1. 8 civilian deaths for every American killed in the war. Not to mention the 4 million acres of arable land that were ruined by American chemicals. (Mead, Special Providence, 219).
- The attack of 9/11 left 3,000+ dead. Estimates of the number of civilians killed as a result of the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan hover around 100,000.
Jesus calls his followers to stand their ground but turn the other cheek while doing so. In a direct reversal of Lamech's boast, Jesus calls his disciples to forgive, not seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:21-22). The logic of "I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me" makes perfect sense to a nation whose response to attackers has far outstripped Lamech. The logic that God might use suffering to accomplish his purposes makes perfect sense to those whose worship, imagination, and lives are shaped by the Slaughtered Lamb. So which seems logical to you?