Protests erupted at Ohio State University over the killing of terrorist Abdul Razak Ali Artan. Claiming he had reached a “boiling point” after becoming “sick and tired” of the treatment of Muslims, Artan injured 11 students when he drove his car over them and afterwards tried to stab them to death with a butcher knife.
The protests were part of a larger gathering organized by the OSU Coalition for Black Liberation meant to eulogize “people of color” killed by police since October, as reported by the student newspaper, The Lantern.
Artan’s name was added to that list.
As explained by Maryam Abidi, a fourth-year in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, “We broadened the scope of what today was supposed to be, to talk about the aftermath of what happened on the 28th.”
The event commenced with a eulogy for each name on the list, followed by a reading of all of their names, ages and the location of their deaths.
While acknowledging the violent nature of some of their crimes, Abidi still countered, “The protest against police brutality extends to the innocent and the guilty alike, because we know that no matter the crime, justice and due process don’t come from a cop’s bullet.”
This flawed moral argument – as well as the sheer ludicrousness of such a statement – is breathtaking. First and foremost, a person armed with a lethal weapon (whether it be a car, a knife or even his or her bare hands) engaged in an act meant to kill innocent people has opted out of any system of “due process.”
The definition of justice in the moral realm is not a static reality. Justice in this case was served, namely, the killing of the attacker before he was able to carry out his intentions.
If he had not been stopped by a policeman’s bullet – which, given the circumstances, was most likely the only way he could have been neutralized – where would the justice be for his victims who most certainly would have been dead by that time?
Contrary to Abidi’s concept of justice, moral values are not determined in a vacuum. As much as it would be convenient to deconstruct every moral dilemma into binary parts (in this case, killed by a bullet shot by a policeman or not), that is not how our world is constructed.
Justice takes into consideration more components than simply this one fact seized on by the OSU Coalition for Black Liberation. In the case of a jihadi terrorist perpetrating an attack on innocent civilians, justice was served when Artan was stopped.
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org