Monday, June 12, 2006

Soul Searching Up North: Canada And Terrorism

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.


Matt Jenks said...

Well said. I remember one thing that I read posted by a Canadian on one of several forum boards I used to visit in a former life. It was about the same time that Bill O'Reilly was calling for the boycott of French goods, and some smarmy Frenchman kept posting daily economic indicating numbers about how well the French economy was doing, even without the United States support. The Canadian girl said, "Oh God, please, I hope America never boycotts Canadian goods. Our economy would be flat in no time."

For some reason, that always stuck with me. They want it both ways. They seek to distance themselves from America and our fascist, warmongering, innocent-child-murdering ways, but they also fear the day we cut the purse strings (so to speak) and stop buying their whiskey and lumber.

One thing I cannot and will not forget is that the 9/11 hijackers came to Boston through Canada. For the Canadians to be alarmed at terrorists popping up within their borders kind of amazes me. They're right next door to America, they have a long, open border with America, and they're not exactly the most populous of countries. It would be rather easy to hide in the openness of their society (both figuratively and literally).

Frema said...

Hey! I was actually able to follow this entire post.

I remember when Bush was voted into office and some celebrities talked about moving to Canada. That never sounded right to me, because as effed up as his presidency might be, it doesn't take away from the greatness of America. The way we advocate for and protect freedom is a good thing, even if we're not a hundred percent consistent with it. What government doesn't have room for improvement?

Greg_Shealy said...

Maybe you are right and it will result in a jolt. I think, though, that just as possible would be an opposite reaction in which Canadians say that this is the result of electing a conservative PM, being economically and culturally too close to America, or due to the fact that these "uneducated" and "oppressed" people don't understand that they are different from America. Alas, Canada is forced to suffer due to the barbarians to the south.

Of course I don't agree with this, but I have long stopped thinking that political reality has the capability of the pacifistic left out of its fantasy world. For goodness sakes, look at how Nick Berg's father reacted when a bomb killed the person who beheaded his son.

Look, we caught the guy from Canada sneaking into Seattle a few years ago. Americans, Spainiards, Britons, Australians (in Indonesia) have all been targeted, but you think this is going to wake up the Canadian left? Good luck.

The question I think is important is where does this fantasy outlook come from and why is it so durable?

Ultimately, I think it is easier to hold onto this worldview even whe it contradicts evidence and commonsense than to admit: "Look, there are people in the world who don't think women should be allowed to have the same liberties as men, and think that homosexuals should be killed. They don't like us and want to kill us unless we adopt their intolerant viewpoints. Until we do, they believe that killing tolerant westerners will give them a magic carpet ride to heaven."

Matt Jenks said...

For the record: Thomas Hobbes: 0, Canada: 4.

Greg pointed out that finding a terrorist cell with advanced plans for murder and mayhem didn't and wouldn't awaken the Canadian Left from their complacency. I would argue/agree that having three thousand people killed over two cities and a non-descript Pennsylvanian field has yet to awaken the American Left from their delusional world view.

And before I get accused of O'Reilly-ism...let us not forget those who came out and cried "America deserved this!" shortly after 9/11 happened.

Lost A Sock said...

It really is so important for us to realize that this can happen anywhere at any time. Because our 9/11 happened a few years back, I think people have begun to relax again - even though there is plenty of evidence that terrorism has not forgotten us.

We were definitely not in the crowd that contemplated moving up north upon the election of W, but I have thought about moving up there and changing my last name to Dion, just so student loan companies could no longer find me. ;0)