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Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal is everywhere, and rightly so. It is a story about abuse of power by the administration of one of the most important political figures in our country. But at a human level, it's a story that turns my stomach.

Even if you've already seen them, take another look at the infamous emails written by Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and David Wildstein, director of interstate capital projects for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the man known as Gov. Christie's "eyes and ears inside this massive agency."

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Bridget Anne Kelly, a top Christie aide, wrote in an email to Wildstein. "Got it," Wildstein replied.

One text message sent to Wildstein on the day of the lane closures referenced mass school bus delays. "Is it wrong that I'm smiling?" the message read.

"No," Wildstein wrote.

"I feel badly about the kids. I guess," the person, who is unidentified, texted back.

Wildstein replied, "They are the children of Buono [Christie's opponent for governor] voters."

Callous doesn't even begin to describe it. Is inhuman too strong? I'm not sure. These people knew that they would be causing harm to thousands of others, including children. The way Kelly and Wildstein saw these human beings in Fort Lee, New Jersey is something I cannot even fathom. Would you, any of you, cause deliberate harm to people that you didn't know, who had done nothing to you, and nothing to deserve it? What kind of person would do such a thing? I'm serious. I can't imagine having the kind of moral compass that would function in such a way. It makes me sick.

Then I came across another story, one about a very different kind of moral compass.

Please follow me across the fold for the details.

 

Aitzaz Hasan was 15 years old when he died.

On Monday, in the Hangu district of northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, Aitzaz was standing at the main gate that serves as the entrance to his school, just as he might have on any other Monday. Another young male approached and asked for directions to the school. The fact that this other young male was wearing the school's uniform told Aitzaz and his cousin Musadiq Ali Bangash that something was off. Aitzaz confronted this other male, threw a rock at him, and finally tackled him.

The bomber then detonated his explosive device, killing himself and Aitzaz. According to his cousin Musadiq, the bomber could easily have killed hundreds of students, as they were gathered for a morning assembly. The school's population was religiously mixed, including both Sunni and Shiites. Sectarian violence in Pakistan, in particular targeting the Shia and other religious minorities, has been devastating in recent years.

What Aitzaz did was simply incredible. The word hero doesn't come close to describing him. Here's someone, a teenager no less, whose instinct was to protect the people around him from danger, and who acted on that instinct. He gave his life for them.

I think about the gratitude that the parents of the children at his school must feel toward Aitzaz, and toward his family for raising a boy who would do what he did, who would act like a man in the best sense of the word.

I think about what Aitzaz did, and what might have been going through his mind. Then I think about what David Wildstein and Bridget Kelly did. We know was going through their minds thanks to those emails. At this moment, I'm not focused on Chris Christie's role in all this, as important as that is going forward. I will say that even if nothing further comes to light, it is preposterous to think Christie bears no responsibility for their actions, given the climate of bullying and punishing opponents he has cultivated in his four years as governor.

All I can do is think about how small Kelly and Wildstein are, and how for the rest of their lives they will be defined by that smallness, by vindictiveness, and by a complete lack of empathy for their fellow citizens and human beings.

And then I think about Aitzaz Hasan, and how his name will always evoke humanity, and love, and sacrifice. David Wildstein, Bridget Kelly, and Chris Christie could learn a lot from a 14-year-old about what it means to be a human being.

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