Can’t get away without talking about it. As with 9/11, one cannot help but sympathize deeply with a population that has discovered the depths of their vulnerability. The “Bomb the hell out of them,” response is understandable.
However, cooler heads must prevail. There is one point that must be reiterated:
Nothing Has Changed.
Qualify that. Except for the emotional public relations situation, nothing has changed. People in the civilized world are neither more nor less vulnerable than they were last week. In fact, things are better. A terrorist network has been rolled up in spectacular and bloody fashion. With the suspension of civil liberties involved in a State of Emergency, it is likely that more will follow. The thought that innocent or not-so-guilty people may be caught up in the net is not close to the minds of the French people right now. And it might be suggested that the fact that those who are caught up will most likely be Arab Muslims does make a difference. More on that later.
Canadian Bombings of ISIS
As Prime Minister Trudeau and I have mentioned, Nothing Has Changed. The limited effect that the bombings have has not changed. Perhaps the French will count the number of “collateral damage” civilians killed by their increased bombing and stop when the number reaches 130? No matter how we feel about the massacres, this should not change our minds about the bombings. Once we bring public relations into the mix, it means that people who want to get certain things done will find it easier to do them. For example the states in the US that have requested no refugees. This thinly disguised racism creates the very problems it purports to solve. More on that later, as well. But the promise to withdraw our planes from bombing was based on Canada’s non-aggressive image in the world and our possible best use of resources as part of the coalition against ISIS. A knee-jerk reaction from a lot of angry people demanding revenge would be a poor reason to change a good policy.
Our mantra again; Nothing Has Changed. The fact that one of the terrorists came in with the refugees on a fake passport changes nothing. Our civil servants have always been vetting the refugees, and will continue to do so. Speaking of the public reaction, yes, it’s more likely that some fool in the wilds of northern British Columbia will get a bunch of names on her petition to stop the refugees from coming. Don’t worry, Mr. Trudeau. They were all Conservative voters anyway. (Sorry, I let my natural cynicism escape for a moment. That was the other guy I was thinking of.)
The Cause of the Problem: Home Grown Terrorists
We all love to say “I told you so,” and I must state that my first reaction, on hearing of the Paris massacres, was that the perpetrators would turn out to be French citizens. Investigation has proved that, with few exceptions, they were. How did this happen?
The easy answer: France’s second largest ethnic group is people of Arab descent. The original source was the refugees who escaped the massacres of loyal French supporters after the Algerian War of Independence. (Being descended from United Empire Loyalists who fled to Canada after the American Revolution, I sympathize.)
How We Treat Refugees is Crucial
The problem is that several generations later these people have not integrated into French society. Analysis of the French attitude towards their own culture reveals some of the problem. I don’t know whether it’s a cause or a symptom, but the French have an exaggerated opinion of the importance of their language. The academie français regulates and restricts changes in the French Language to keep it pure. The Official Languages Act in Quebec is a symptom of the same feeling.
Having spent about a year of my life in France, I note that the French people are, quite rightfully, very proud of their culture and way of life. Hey, I love it there. But a little pride goes a long way. In spite of their “liberté, egalité, fraternité,” the French are happy to impose their majority rule on the cultures of the minorities who live there. Restrictions on the wearing of culturally motivated clothing, for example. Canada has a similar experience with the hijab, concentrated in francophone Quebec.
And it could be argued that an overbearing demand for immigrants to conform to the majority culture has exactly the opposite effect. Immigrants, especially the poor ones, who feel put upon by the majority are thrown back on their own resources. Instead of spreading across the country, they congregate in ghettos, where their poverty and dependence on their old culture and religion is increased.
Not to Place All the Blame on the French
And the second damaging half of this equation is an immigrant culture that traditionally keeps the genders separated. Is it sexist to note that women tend to have a stabilizing effect on groups? If you wish to be egalitarian, surely you will allow that having both genders present forms a stabilizing effect. A society that forces young men to grow up in the presence of no one but other young men is a recipe for trouble. When that social group is a society of poor and unaccepted, the result is inflammatory.
The Surrey Experience
We have a similar situation in a city near where I live. Surrey, B. C. has a large population of South Asians, mostly of Punjabi descent. This is another society where young women are kept out of the presence of young men. One upshot of this is that we have a large number of young South Asian men involved in the drug trade. Thirty years ago some members of a Punjabi Separatist group here blew up an Air India plane. The parallels are there.
And Then There’s the US
If we want to find another world power whose citizens have an inflated opinion of their own way of life, we only have to look across the border. Another country with ghettos full of poverty-stricken involuntary immigrants of different skin colour who are not accepted by the majority. In that case, the young men usually turn to crime. And if you’re looking for more parallels, where do you think the names Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul Jabbar came from? Yes, young American black men had their fling with radical Islam as well. Which was rather illogical, since Arab slavers have been dealing in African slaves for millennia. But we’re not dealing with logic, here, but frustrated young men (and some women).
Recipe for Homegrown Terrorist Stew
- Bring in immigrants of different skin colour and religion, especially from an authoritarian society that sequesters young men from female companionship
- Exert force to make them conform to the majority
- Turn them into second class citizens when they don’t
- Don’t help them raise themselves economically
- Don’t support them or accept them into your society
- Encourage them to ghettoize
Many of the young men you produce will become criminals. A very small number will take their rebellion against their parents and their reaction to the oppression in which they grew up and reject all of it, grasping at whatever violent solution extremists offer them.
What is the Canadian Government Doing Wrong?
Likewise, the answer is, “Nothing.” They are continuing do follow the reasonable policies they were elected to achieve.
What Could the Government Do Better?
Communicate. Once Mr. Trudeau gets back from his jet-set junket, we need a press release. What do Canadians want to hear? “We are trying to fulfill our promise of 25,000 by year’s end, but WE WILL NOT COMPROMISE SECURITY TO DO SO. Simple as that.
In the Long Run?
The only consolation we have is that this, too, will pass, my children. I can remember when everyone worried that air travel was so dangerous because of constant hijackings. It was merely the protester’s flavour of the decade. The nutters have moved on, and as technology gives them new opportunities, they will move on again. I shudder to think what the next version will be, but by then we will probably have the techniques to fight it. I just hope our society is not harmed too much by those methods.