Perhaps the only surprising thing about the attack on the Muslim congregation outside the Finsbury Park mosque in London is that it took so long to happen.
For six years, until 2003, the mosque was the base of the most notorious Muslim cleric in Britain, Abu Hamza, who preached undying hatred of the West (while taking its Social Security). And although the mosque has reformed since his departure — he is now serving a life sentence without parole in the U.S. — it is still associated in the minds of most people in Britain with the kind of Muslim extremism that has led to the recent rash of terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.
People of all types are to be found in a population of many millions, from criminals to saints. And first reports of the perpetrator of the attack, a man called Darren Osborne, suggest that he was the kind of uncouth, violent drunk who are so numerous in contemporary Britain, and are to be seen by the score in every British town and city on Friday and Saturday nights.
There are many other potential Darren Osbornes in Britain....
Theodore Dalrymple is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to City Journal.