Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jonas on a Rather Important Distinction

It doesn't terribly worry me when bad people run around a free country pretending to be good. What worries me is when bad people run around a free country pretending that being bad is good. Or, as a surrealist libertine friend put it once: "A fling? One man's fling is another man's freedom fighter."

I'm not unduly bothered when, as in this case, some members of ETA -- Euskadi Ta Askatasun, a group that blows up people and things in Spain in the name of Basque separatism -- sneak into Canada on fake passports to chill out, or even to organize or to plot. Yes, it would be nice if we could detect forged documents more reliably, but a few fakes will always slip through. No big deal.

The big deal is when people who blow up things no longer need to forge documents to slip through. The big deal is when we welcome them because we can't tell a fling from a freedom fighter.

The big deal is when we refuse to identify ETA -- or the IRA or the Tamil Tigers or Hamas or Hezbollah--as terrorist organizations. The big deal is when Canadian leaders attend Tamil Tiger functions (Paul Martin) or shake hands with raving anti-Semites like Malaysia's Dr. Mahatir Mohamad (Jean Chretien) or cheer mass-murdering tyrants by shouting "Viva Castro" (Pierre Trudeau). The big deal is when we parrot the asinine sophistry that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

The big deal isn't the tangible terrorists who enter our country with phony papers, but the intangible enablers and apologists of terror who enter our hearts and minds with phony arguments. We can cope with the holders of false identities; it's the holders of false ideas who should concern us.

The fake ideas we protect are more dangerous than the fake identities we prosecute. A terrorist hiding in B.C. is less of a threat to Canada than a CBC commentator who can't tell a terrorist from a freedom fighter. Yet we urge the RCMP to arrest the first and would protest -- with me in the vanguard -- if they tried to arrest the second. Stupid? No, just the paradox of freedom.

George Jonas "False passports vs. false ideas"