Few things are more attractive than violence cloaked in righteousness. This is especially true in a morally disjointed era.
The other day, a Muslim saved a terrorist.
It happened just after midnight Monday in London. The terrorist, according to authorities, was Darren Osborne, 47, from Cardiff, Wales, who drove a rented van 150 miles to the British capital, where he jumped a sidewalk and plowed into a crowd of worshippers outside a mosque as people were attending to a man who had collapsed.
Osborne is reported to have screamed, “I want to kill all Muslims!” The outraged crowd dragged him from the van, punching and kicking him. They might have killed him, but then Imam Mohammed Mahmoud of the Muslim Welfare House put himself between the mob and the man. “No one touch him!” he ordered. “No one!”
Mahmoud later told reporters it wasn’t just him, but “a group of brothers” who were “calm and collected and managed to calm people down.” As a result, Osborne was still in one piece when police arrived.
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At least 10 people were reported injured in the attack. The man who collapsed later died, though the cause is unclear.
Mahmoud’s moral heroism seems especially stark in light of what Osborne allegedly did. Not just the random maiming of innocent people, but the fact that he did it, one presumes, in protest of terrorism.
That’s more than simply mad. It is also visceral proof of the human tendency to become what we abhor. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it like this: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”
That would seem to be what happened to Osborne. It seems to be happening to many of us, the dangerous absurdities and frightening expediencies of this political moment having a coarsening effect on supporters of…