Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Island of Canada

It was suggested this morning during CTV’s not completely abysmal coverage of the terrorist bombings in London that Canada doesn’t have much cause to worry about attacks on its own soil in the near future. This by the University of Ottawa’s Mark Salter, a professor at the institution’s School of Political Studies. Mr. Salter cited, amongst other things, Canada’s “hospitality” and “openness” towards immigrants and refugees as possible reasons.


Soooo… it’s because of Great Britain’s inhospitable and close-minded treatment of its immigrants and refugees that 40 of its civilians (at most recent count) have been murdered? It was a group calling themselves “The Secret Organization of Al Qaeda in Europe” claiming responsibility for the attacks last time I checked. Is Mr. Salter suggesting then that the rather obvious terrorist agenda that one is more likely to associate with such an outfit is merely a front for an (apparently very Western-inspired) activist group pushing a radical agenda of pluralist reform?


Could this all, then, be a misunderstanding? The World Trade Centre, I mean; the Madrid train bombing? Afghanistan? Iraq? If the UK and the USA had just taken a couple of pages from the Canadian foreign policy and immigration handbooks everything would be fine? It’s that these people just want a place to hang out? Soooo... we are the infidels—our entire mode of existence is the most loathsome thing possible to them—but really, your average Islamic extremist terrorist just wants to be able to sip coffee somewhere in downtown Toronto and not have to worry about being pestered? He just wants a place to call his own: a China town, a Little Italy, a Gay Village?

One sees the source of tremendous confusion, and the potential for serious, serious harm in this sort of idiotic, though clearly unthinking, comment. (And I wonder: exactly how much blood has to be spilled before Canadians are able to resist being impressed with themselves for more than a half second?) Mr. Salter would’ve been well-advised to take his cue from David Harris, the former Chief of Strategic Planning for CSIS, also one of Canada AM’s panel of experts this morning. Mr. Harris suggested that it is precisely “the West, and liberal democratic pluralism” which Islamic extremism has set itself against by carrying out acts of terrorism of the sort we saw today. Which, given Mr. Salter’s rendering of the Canadian character as open and (ugh!) hospitable, makes us a rather extremely likely target, wouldn’t you say?

Of course, he would’ve been quite right in saying that we aren’t likely near-future targets for terrorism if he had acknowledged that it’s because we aren’t a strategic target. But I think it might be for that very reason that we should be worried: we are apparently that ineffectual. (And, indeed, Mr. Salter: that caught up in our own, confused little world.)