Monday, October 27, 2014

Tragedy Must Bring Out The Best In All Of Us

That is the sentiment expressed by Craig Wellington of Brampton in this fine lead letter from this morning's Star:

Let’s tone down the hate rhetoric. A tragedy occurred Wednesday and a good man, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo lost his life. Let us use that as a catalyst to illuminate the best, not the worst of us.

Much of the U.S. media and political pundits have shamelessly exploited this tragedy to use as a launchpad for a stream of bigoted, vicious, rhetoric based on innuendo to feed an ongoing narrative of hate. Their apparent delight at this tragedy is disturbing.

CNN and FoxNews have filled their round-the-clock coverage with conjecture and inflammatory innuendo. Bill Maher continued his tireless “us against the Muslims” crusade by tweeting: “Turns out the attacker was Islamic — what are the odds, huh?” Sadly, this type of knee-jerk bigotry, posing as considered, intellectual punditry is far too common. And the public is increasingly unable to discern the difference between considered journalism (disappearing faster than the northern white rhino) and reckless conjecture.

In April of this year, Ft. Hood Army Base in the U.S. was attacked by an armed gunman and multiple servicemen lost their lives. What religion was the shooter? In the mass shooting at Sandy Hook school in which 20 children and six teachers lost their lives, what religion was the shooter? When congressman Gabby Gifford was shot, what religion was the shooter? What about the shooter who fired an assault weapon in a U.S. movie theatre in 2012, killing over 20 people? Timothy McVeigh?

Armed gunmen attacked Capitol Hill in 1998 (killing two police officers) and 2008. What religion were they? What religion was the man who shot Ronald Reagan? Some 84 U.S. policemen have been killed in the line of duty thus far this year. What was the religion of the perpetrators? We don’t know. It wasn’t relevant. The only thing we do know, is they werent Muslim, because if they were, it would have been the headline.

Canada has recently agreed to join the U.S. in a war in the Middle East, a region now rife with sectarian conflict. There is blame all around for that. It’s no coincidence that the epicentre, Iraq, is the country in which the U.S., under the pretense of non-existent weapons of mass destruction, removed Saddam Hussein (a former ally of the U.S. who was armed and funded by them) who was keeping these sectarian forces in check.

Years later, with over 500,000 Iraqis and thousands of U.S. servicemen killed, the area is far more of a global threat than it ever was under Saddam. That has nothing to do with a religion. That’s a convenient excuse and criminal obfuscation.

At the time of the Iraq invasion, Canada refused the U.S.’s call to join them because we did not think it was wise and did not believe the allegations of WMDs and the link to 9/11. Now after the poop has hit the fan, Canada is being asked to help the U.S. clean up their mess. But we are there and not turning back now.

There are potential ramifications to Canada’s joining this war, for Canadian citizens. When England and Germany were at war, both nations anticipated rightly that their heads of state would be assassination targets for agents or sympathizers of the other. That evil is a consequence of war. You send bombs to kill people, some of them are likely to respond.

The Canadian Harper Prime Minister has been asked numerous times in the house to outline the extent of what we have committed to, the duration, the objective of the mission, and the implications in terms of security for Canadians. He has refused to do so.

Clearly there are consequences in terms of our security, especially for Canadians traveling to certain regions, and clearly for our government officials. Wednesday’s incident outlines that not enough steps have been taken to ensure such protection is in place. That needs to change and the Prime Minister needs to have an honest dialogue with Canadians.
But what cannot change is that Canadians cannot devolve from the tolerant, socially progressive nation to a segregated society rife with paranoia, bigotry, finger pointing and hatred as is fast becoming the U.S.’s brand.

Let us honour our fallen soldier by honouring what he served and fought for — a free, open and tolerant society. #Canada

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