I was prompted to comment on a recent column by Jonah Goldberg in National Review concerning the foiled plans of a radical Islamist cell in Canada. Read Goldberg's commentary here.
I agree with Goldberg that Canada is the most deluded industrialized nation on earth. The way that Canadians seem to view themselves and the actual state of affairs nationally and internationally are, as they often are, quite different. Canadians view themselves as peaceful, pacificstic and as the perfect North American foil to the warlike, militarized Americans. They see themselves as "the American alternative," offering all of the benefits of the United States with none of the bloodied hands or notions of world hegemony.
In light of these perceptions, it is easy to understand how a homegrown terrorist cell with plans of chilling specificity would shake the Canadian people and their government out of their preconcieved notions of national benevolence. "How could it happen here?" That was, I'm sure, the question on the lips of Canadians from top to bottom when this dastardly plot was (thankfully) defused.
How COULD it happen in Canada? Quite simply, really. The things that radicalized, marginalized Muslim populations in the West find to attack in Europe and the United States are no different in Canada. These radical Islamists, radicalized by their place in their adopted society and feelings of animosity towards "the West" in general helped to lead to radicalization that was turned into apparent plans for action. Put another way, the way it happened in Canada is the same way it happened in England in the summer of 2005, in Spain in the spring of 2005 and also with the 9/11 hijackers in 2000-2001.
The deeper question then becomes why attack a system that tries so hard to make everyone feel welcome? I think the key to understanding this is the fact that in an open society, such as those in the West, the rights guaranteed to every person are not without risks nor can they be limited to some and denied to others. If one person has the right to speak and assemble freely, all must have it. The fact that these would-be terrorists could congregate in the same mosque and hear whatever is said must be protected, however one might disagree with what is said.
The limit to this protection comes in the transmuting of speech to action. People should be able to say whatever they want; when action becomes involved that could harm other people, then the situation changes. Saying that I want to kill a public official and then actually buying a weapon and making plans are two completely different things. When the lives and property of others is directly and specifically threatened, then the state has the right to step in to protect its citizens (which is the primary function of a state to begin with anyway).
Rights imply risks. It is as simple as that. It can be something as small as having to hear people say things that you don't agree. It can be as large as a system that can allow plans that would lead to its own destruction to be formulated under its aegis. We must consider if the rights of every person protected (not given) by the state are worth the risks that we incur in protecting them in the first place.
I think that rights are too important to sacrifice to risks. These are risks that I am willing to bear. Risks that I am not willing to bear are those that involve the state deciding when rights can and cannot be exercised and that certain people have a stronger claim to protection than others. If we want an open society, these are the burdens and tensions that we all must bear.
It also must be said that, in this situation, nothing ACTUALLY happened. The plans were not carried out and they were foiled before they could be carried out. It remains to be seen (and may never come out) how the police in Canada and elsewhere inflitrated these plans. It might well be that the horrendous apparatus of the police state tripped up these plans and that I am just plain wrong. It is well that these plans were frustrated, in any event.
In closing, we cannot forget that this jolt to the system in Canada is, in the long run, a good thing. Canadians must reassess their view of themselves as an impregnible beacon of tolerance and openness. It could have happened there and Canadians must realize that they are not perfect and can be a target just as easily as the United States, Great Britain, Spain or anywhere else in the West.
This should also give pause to those despicable American who claim to be Canadians or want to move to Canada because the U.S. is so terrible. In the eyes of militant Islam (infused with Marxism and anti-colonial rhetoric), Canada and the U.S. are part of the same system of global domination and control that makes the need for radical reaction necessary.
The world is a dangerous place, Canada. Remember this when reordering your grand strategy to keep the True North truly strong and truly free...or else.
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