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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hate and hysteria in Canadian news

Interesting article in Straightgoods by Linda McQuaig, Canadian activist and writer. It's a Canadian take on the issue of how the security threat and 'war on terror' can breed hate and hysteria.

If being civil invites terrorism, there would be a lot more in Sweden and a lot less in Egypt.

by Linda McQuaig

This was not at all what CNN had in mind.

Washington had just dropped two massive bombs on a house in Iraq, killing renowned terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (as well as six others, including a woman and child), and CNN host Soledad O'Brien was interviewing Michael Berg, whose son had been beheaded by Zarqawi.

Surely Berg would be a great interview, expressing a vengeful satisfaction.

But Berg wouldn't co-operate. Departing from the usual CNN script, he refused to express satisfaction over the killing of Zarqawi, pointing out that it would only further the cycle of violence and vengeance. And he expressed sadness for Zarqawi's family.

What the hell is the matter with this guy? Doesn't he know how to hate?

Soon our television news programs will be just like CNN. It will be all security, all the time. So much for other news.

Clearly, CNN would have to rely on 'experts' to express the proper animus toward radical Islam, so helpful in reinforcing Washington's arguments about the need for US military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and possibly even a strike against Iran.

Now that we in Canada allegedly have our own homegrown terrorism, we have apparently entered the big leagues of media terrorism hysteria.

Soon our television news programs will be just like CNN. It will be all security, all the time. So much for other news.

Some commentators here seem almost elated by the turn of events.

Finally, we can get on with the job of redesigning Canada more along the lines of a repressive fortress, stamping out soft-headed notions like tolerance, civil rights and respect for other cultures.

In the National Post, Jonah Goldberg blamed Canada's 'niceness' — even our 'sucking up to the United Nations' — for encouraging terrorism.

Goldberg seemed unfazed by the fact that the 17 accused have yet to be convicted, and that our security agencies have been wrong before, such as in 2003 when they falsely accused 19 foreign students of plotting to blow up the CN tower.

If 'niceness' and tolerance encourage terrorism, there would presumably be a lot more terrorism in Sweden and Norway and a lot less in repressive states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The real danger here isn't that tolerance will breed terrorism, but that hysteria over terrorism may help push Canada into becoming a less tolerant, open and civilized society.

A disturbing tone was evident last week in a front-page column in The Globe and Mail following the arrest of the 17 Muslim men and boys.

Dismissing concerns about a backlash against Muslims, columnist Christie Blatchford sneered at the notion that those who broke windows at a Toronto mosque 'stand before us as the greatest dangers to Canadian society.'

Blatchford was suggesting that the greatest threat Canadians face is terrorism, not those who express hatred toward Muslims.

We all agree terrorism is bad and should be rooted out and punished.

But it's worrying that hatred toward Muslims is being dismissed as no big deal on the front page of a national newspaper.

"Doesn't he know how to hate?" Funny in a sad sort of way.

She makes a good point in that nobody likes terrorism but we shouldn't allow that to blind us to reason.
Oddly enough, I was reading from "The Pocket Dalai Lama" just before I read this. I found this passage particularly revealing, and would like to share it with you.

"Happiness cannot come from hatred or anger. Nobody can say, 'Today I am happy because this morning I was angry.' On the contrary, people feel uneasy and sad and say, 'Today I am not very happy, because I lost my temper this morning.'"

Through my eyes, it fit somehow.

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