Thursday, June 08, 2006

Shadenfreude, USA

I am behind on many things, including updating the r.a.c.s. pet gallery, mostly because of last weekend's arrest of 17 suspects in a terrorist plot in Toronto. We all had a role to play in that distressing drama, and mine was to handle local media and try to put things into perspective to ward off a feared backlash. There was none, really, of course, other than the unfortunate vandalism of a Toronto mosque. That there wasn't didn't really surprise me. As a nation, we're exceptionally good at putting things - even very upsetting and distressing things - into perspective and not overreacting. In fact, given that the week before we'd heard testimony at a public hearing that there are indeed terrorist elements in Canada, the arrests are oddly reassuring - proof that the system is working, rather than that it is broken. We'd be fools to think they are not here; what is comforting is that we are watching, and catching them.

One of the most disappointing, if not totally unexpected, responses has been the shadenfreude coming out of a certain corner of the American media - a viewpoint being given ample voice in the mainstream press. Vincent Carroll in the Rocky Mountain News smugly points out the glaringly obvious - that terrorists won't excuse Canada because we're "nice". Thank God we had him to point that out to us, because Canadians had been stumbling around with the erroneous notion that fanatical religious zealots were swayed into random acts of kindness by niceness.

Clifford May, a syndicated columnist with Scripps Howard, comes right out and says in a widely-published column that we deserved it for the sins of being "democratic, liberal, multicultural, diverse and tolerant".

And this nasty editorial by Johan Goldberg in the LATimes pretty much hits all the bases - we're nice, we respect the United Nations, and we're foolishly multicultural and tolerant.

There are plenty of other examples out there, especially if you count the frothing-at-the-mouth right-wing loony bloggers.

In fact, most of the authors I'm referring to are gleefully pointing to Canada's official multiculturalism policy and our mosaic theory (as opposed to the 'melting pot' assimilation model) as being the cause of this problem, as if - inexplicably - they think we are at greater risk than the US, and the chickens are - ha ha! - finally coming home to roost for those disgusting socialist pinko Canadians in the form of this plot.

They're wrong, of course. The official policy, and unofficial casual practice, of multiculturalism and day-to-day embracing of diversity is why Canadian Muslims feel "Canadian" as well as "Muslim"; it's why Canadian Muslim leaders were comfortable very shortly after 9/11 with issuing a formal fatwa against terrorism, along with statements declaring that it was every Canadian Muslim's civic and religous duty as a Muslim to report terrorist activity or rhetoric if they knew of it; and it's why I still feel our chances of having such plots reported by people inside the community is better here than in countries where Muslims feel excluded, scrutinized, suspect, other.

I'm embarrassed for these ignorant authors and their unseemly gloating. They seem to have forgotten where their at-risk airplanes, any one of which could have been another flying bomb, landed and their people were taken in on September 11, 2001. They're also forgetting that any illusions that we had that we are not involved immediately and in a hands-on fashion in the war on terror were discussed at length and put away forever when Canadian youth started coming home from Afghanistan in boxes.

We're all in this together. It would be nice if the baser numbers of our alleged best friends treated us so.



Blogger Meg said...

Oh lord, Ronnie, on behalf of the idiots in my country, I sincerely apologize for the drivel that comes out in some of our newspapers. I wish I could tell you it was just a bunch of garbage, but it seems like those people are becoming more and more prominent every day. I don't know what to do. I love my country and don't really want to leave it - living abroad now has made that clear - but I really don't want to go down in flames for something I tried to stop.

I'm sorry.

11:51 a.m.  
Blogger Brent McKee said...

Ronnie, it doesn't surprise me at all. The Raging Right (like Anne Coulter - I'd call her a bitch but that's an insult to female dogs the world over) is willing to do whatever they can to run down Canada whenever they get a chance and are on ocassion joined by supposedly saner heads. One thing that I did find disconcerting in the wake of recent events was a statement by a British expert - I can't remember if it was on CNN or BBC World - that Canada had "lost control of their borders" and blaming that for the terrorist plot. I can't help but wonder what her reaction was to the London bombings; had Britain last control of their borders?

7:08 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

meg, don't you dare apologize for the raging loonbats south of the border... I couldn't begin to try apologizing for our own Northern species :)

I was feeling pretty raw when I made that post but I have never, ever, lost sight of the fact that the USA is, in the end, made up of people - American people - some of the finest people in the world, and I love them. The raging loonbats are the exceptions, not the rule.

Brent, that's the exact rhetoric I am talking about... the anti-immigration, anti-Muslim backlash in Britain and in the Netherlands has, in fact, been troubling (I don't know if you saw the documentary on The National about this last week - it was on the website but I can't find it now). The implications for the US and Canada should we follow suit are dire - they are taking a path to more, not less, isolationism among their Muslims, particularly the youth :(


10:48 p.m.  
Blogger Carl said...


Did you see that Anne Coulter viciously attacked the 9/11 widows recently? She did a signing here in my county yesterday (or so) and one of our local pols asked her to apologize.

She had her security eject him from the store! An elected government official ejected for daring to challenge some writer.

It isn't just Canada. It's anyone who dares to challenge the ruling rightist regime.

10:37 p.m.  

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