Monday, June 05, 2006

And so it begins...?

I suspected this day would come sooner or later; I'm only glad that when it did come, it came as bloodlessly as it did. We were fortunate.

This morning the news is that a terrorist cell of 17 Muslim adults and teenagers have been picked up by Canadian police. Details are sketchy at this point, as you'd expect, but I've heard musings that they planned to blow up the Peace Tower (the tower in the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa... something akin to blowing up the dome over the Capitol Building in you're reading this from a US perspective), among other places. A modern-day Gunpowder Plot.

Naturally my first gut reaction is anger at these people. And, of course, I'm presuming guilt here; my bad, but for the purposes of discussion, let's go with it, keeping in mind these all remain allegations for the moment. But my second reaction is fear over what this will do to our society. As the days unfold, and the extent of what was allegedly planned becomes more widely known, will Canadians abandon their fairness, and duck behind shields of paranoia, xenophobia, diminishment of civil liberties and a heightened police state? Will we take all the wrong lessons from this?

Two matters compel me to write. First of all, apposite to me is the fact that this nut was cracked long before it germinated, using the tools already at the disposal of the state. This speaks to me as clear and obvious evidence that we have already struck an adequate balance between the rights of individuals to privacy and the right of society to security. Yet, this plain fact will no doubt be ignored by many who will argue that we must now go beyond the beyond and demand the right to spotcheck people's underwear and eavesdrop on halal meat shops for evidence of unorthodoxy in the opinions of patrons. But why stop there?

Secondly, I hope one of the things that comes out of this will be a curiosity among Canadians as to why people living among us should target us. And I mean to the point of really listening to these people when they speak and give testimony, assuming they confess... which is probably unlikely (and again, I know I'm presuming guilt again here). We have to go beyond the facile and flatly false assumption they do it "out of jealousy"... what would such people be jealous of? They're here! Whatever we had they wanted, they have now acquired and achieved, and through their own labours in getting here! I find telling, though, that this all happens in the wake of Canada's increasing visibility in Afghanistan, the debate over our role there, and the extension of our military presence. Speaking for myself, each of those those strikes me as a much more credible causus belli than economic jealousy. It's relatively easy to pick up stakes and move someplace prosperous... but what do you do when an entire culture is invading nation after nation you identify with, carelessly causing the deaths of tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and behaving as though rules existed only for the weak?



I believe we stand at a crossroads, where we will either listen to the grievances of others and begin to respect their rights even though they can't compel us, or else we will pledge our lives and blood to the futile project of maintaining the military and economic preeminence and hegemony of the Anglosphere and surrendering our freedom, our humility and our humanity to the (belated) founding of Orwell's Oceania.

3 comments:

Masnick96 said...

I hope more then anything Canada will look at what the US has become, and not follow in our path

Lone Primate said...

I hope more than anything the US will look at us and become again what they were when Carter was president... powerful, but respectful and restrained. That's the kind of USA the world needs. Superman, not the Incredible Hulk. :)

Al S. E. said...

I am more concerned about the government's response to the so-called "terrorist threat" than the people's response. People know what is going on, and who their real enemies are, as I was stunned to learn from a series of online responses to a question asked by The Toronto Star.