Is Running Down Pedestrians ‘an Eye for an Eye’?

by Jim Geraghty

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Is Running Down Pedestrians ‘an Eye for an Eye’?

Our friends over in the United Kingdom are enduring a brutal stretch: an attempt to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, the bombing at the concert in Manchester, the van and stabbing attacks near London Bridge, the inferno that engulfed the Grenfell Tower public housing project… and now, it seems, another act of brutal violence allegedly committed in the name of opposing terrorism that is indistinguishable from the terror it claimed to oppose.

One man has died and 10 others are injured after a van was rammed into worshippers in a terror attack near a London mosque, before the driver is said to have screamed: “I’m going to kill all Muslims”.

The van driver – described by witnesses as a large white man – was detained by members of the public after the incident in Finsbury Park early on Monday that police said had “all the hallmarks of terrorism”.

The white van ploughed into pedestrians who were helping an elderly worshipper who had collapsed in an area that was busy with people who had attended Ramadan night prayers.

The pensioner they were helping later died. Police said he had already been receiving first aid from members of the public and it is not yet known if his death was caused by the attack.

A 48-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder over the incident in Seven Sisters Road at 12.20am.

Another said the attacker shouted about killing Muslims as he was held by local people. He his alleged to have said: “I did the job… I done my bit”. Witnesses claimed he added: “I’d do it again, I’d do it again.”

Eight people were taken to hospital and two more were treated for minor injuries at the scene. Police said all the casualties were Muslims.

Perhaps this is relevant in our current moment here in the United States. We’ve been living in an era of escalating political and cultural animosity and provocation. Quite a few politically-active Americans are starting to think, “because the other side has done X; at the very least, they deserve X done to them in response and perhaps even an escalation to Y.”

Radical Islamists have committed several attacks using vans and other vehicles and hitting pedestrians; this hate-filled maniac decided to do the same to Muslims coming out of a mosque. In his mind, it didn’t matter that these were old men and women with no known connection to terrorism or extremism of any kind; all that mattered is that they were a group of “those people.”

He became, quite literally, what he thought he was fighting, the kind of murderous lunatic who tries to kill as many people as possible in the name of a cause.

Since 9/11, there have been many heated debates among non-Muslims about just how much separates radical Islamist jihadist and the average Muslim; some intemperate voices contend there really isn’t that much separating the Muslim family that lives down the street and Osama bin Laden. If you really believe that, then was the driver of the van wrong?

Writing over at Popehat, Ken White considers the protesters disrupting the performance of Julius Caesar in Central Park, contending the play is “normalizing political violence against the Right” because in this production, Caesar resembles President Trump.

The “eye for an eye” theory of respecting free speech is particularly pernicious because it represents the worst sort of collectivism, something the principled Right ought reject. Note that people who say “apply the Liberals’ own rules to the Liberals” aren’t disrupting, say, an Antifa rally or the meeting of some Berkeley student group that advocated shutting down a conservative speaker. They’re disrupting other people entirely, on the theory that everyone they deem part of the nebulous collective “Liberal” deserves to be silenced because someone else in that nebulous collective engaged in silencing behavior. The actors and playgoers in New York, under this theory, deserve to be shut down because they stand responsible for the acts of all “liberals” everywhere. (The suggestion that anyone going to see Julius Ceasar must be a liberal does not reflect a very healthy self-image amongst the Right.) This closely resembles the logic of hecklers on college campuses, who argue that nearly any conservative speaker stands responsible for Klansmen and neo-Nazis and overt bigots everywhere. It’s contemptible and can be used to justify doing nearly anything to nearly anyone. It’s the sentiment behind saying American Muslims may fairly be oppressed because Christians are oppressed in Saudi Arabia — even while celebrating our nation having greater freedoms than Saudi Arabia.

Quite a few people like to invoke the slogan “by any means necessary,” because they think it communicates determination; hopefully, they don’t actually mean it. Because running people down in a van is a “means” to stop members of a group you oppose; we reject this option because it’s morally wrong, as well as illegal.

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