Time for Canada to export inclusivity: Gwyn
July 19, 2016
The Star | Among the official explanations given for the slaughter in the French city of Nice were, from the jihad organization Daesh, that the murderer was one of their “soldiers,” and from France’s president, François Hollande, that the act had “a terrorist character.”
Neither explanation has credibility. Not a scrap of evidence connects the killer — Lahouaiej Bouhlel — to Daesh (he never contacted any member, and never went to a mosque) and while he did accomplish his terrible objective, luck rather than training may well have been his principal weapon.
What went so horribly wrong was that when Bouhlel was halted at a police checkpoint he took his rented truck onto the sidewalk and so around the barrier, with, inexplicably, the policemen not stopping him from doing this.
That Bouhlel then went on to kill 84 individuals, 10 of them children, is all that matters. Except in one respect. Certainty is impossible but what may have triggered the horror that Bouhlel unleashed was not the tempting explanation that he did it because he hated non-Muslims but that, as a deeply depressed man whose life had become an utter failure, he hated himself.
Legitimately, many would say, so what?
The difference does matter, though. In contemporary Europe the single most important political issue is an ever-increasing fear and rage by Europeans about Muslims.
In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, a majority in eight of ten European nations declared that the presence of refugees increased the likelihood of acts of terrorism.
Poland’s right-wing government wants no more Muslims to be allowed in. The Hungarian government’s attitude is the same. In most countries, sizable political parties now advocate the same treatment.
As was inevitable, the horror that Bouhlel unleashed has become part of this debate. Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s influential National Front and a serious candidate to replace President Hollande in the next election, has recently cited the mass murder in Nice as evidence that Hollande has been doing “absolutely nothing” to protect France from Islamic terror.
That skepticism is also a key reason why a majority of voters in Britain have just chosen to “Leave” the European Union. They having been convinced, even if narrowly, that too many outsiders were changing the character of their most-times pretty stable society. It also explains why Donald Trump should be about to become the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, and why, according to some polls, he is now almost even with Hillary Clinton.
Just about the only country where Muslims are now treated as individuals no different in almost all respects than are all other individuals is — this one. Canadians owe that singularity to the values they possess and which they consistently refuse to give up. They owe it also to the fact that Justin Trudeau won the last election and then, as prime minister, set about “bringing Canada back.”
Actually, that familiar line about us “coming back” is obsolete. We are now, pretty much, alone. Some of this is circumstantial. It’s a lot easier to keep everything orderly when we have on one side the Atlantic and on the other the Pacific.
So does the U.S., though. And Britain is encircled by water. Yet we are different from just about anyone else.
Many years back we made a major contribution to international affairs by developing the idea and the institute of peacekeeping. Somehow we need to develop a contemporary equivalent, this one based on the presumption that all are equal. Easy to say; excruciatingly difficult to accomplish. But it’s what the world needs.