Fighting Terrorism The Canadian Way!

I felt like I needed to take a moment today to put aside a project that has become my most research intensive writing project to date and say a few words about recent events. As many of you know by now my country, which I dearly love, was attacked again this week. A young man, Nathan Cirillo, was tragically murdered by a deranged individual. This individual left his home armed in preparation for taking human lives, luckily he wasn’t very good at the task and was himself killed after only taking one life, but that isn’t very lucky for Nathan Cirillo and his loved ones. Nathan Cirillo died a hero standing on guard protecting something he believed was important, his murderer was a coward who died trying to cause widespread, senseless destruction and heartache. There is no clearer way I can put it than that.

I wanted to write this post because certain members of the media immediately latched on to the narrative that the attacker was a recent convert to Islam and conjecture about this being a terrorist plot against Canada. It seems that nowadays it only takes the word Islam to send the media, and resultantly most Canadians, into hysteria about terrorism. Disappointingly, many Canadians, and some of my friends are among them, are insisting that Muslims condemn this extremist neophyte. I could not disagree with this idea more. Only a few short months ago a gun-toting extremist who had an arsenal and an abiding hatred of the Canadian government went on a rampage where he murdered three RCMP officers and wounded two more in Moncton. This individual was labelled a “gunman” or “shooter” by the media, not a terrorist, and no one expected any of the other gun owners, gun enthusiasts, or even gun shop owners of our country to condemn or apologize for that young man’s actions. Oh, and good luck finding any news coverage that even mentions his religious affiliation or outcry calling for explanations from his coreligionists. Why is it so different for Canada’s Muslims?

The fact that whenever an Islamic terrorist attacks we expect every Muslim to get in front of a camera, condemn the attackers, and apologize on behalf of Islam serves as proof that our country harbours an unhealthy bigotry towards Muslims. When the Westboro Baptist Church holds one of their despicable protests we don’t expect every Christian group to apologize; when militant Christian Anders Breivik went on a well planned rampage murdering 77 people, most of them with a rifle one at a time, no one expected all of Christianity to condemn him either (in fact, the news media made careful effort to avoid mentioning and minimize his religious beliefs despite the fact that he saw them as a major motivation for his attacks). We all understand that these and other isolated groups of whackos do not represent Christianity. In fact, large Christian groups speaking out against these types of people would have the opposite of the desired effect: it would bestow upon these despicable people far more legitimacy than they deserve.

So why do we expect Muslims to explain Al Qaeda or ISIL? Because we’re bigots. I’m sorry to say it so directly, but I won’t lie about it and I won’t sugar-coat the issue; Canadian culture has become infused with a variety of ignorant and misleading ideas about Muslims. The Islamaphobia we suffer from, largely bestowed upon us by the media, boils Islam down to a uniform and faceless mass of ideological homogeneity where Osama Bin Laden is just as authentically Muslim as Rumi or Omar Kayyam. It stinks! Let me assure you, at 1.5 Billion in the world there is an extremely wide variety of Muslims to choose from; if even ten percent of the world’s Muslims were as extreme as al quaeda the world would be a parking lot by now. Quite to the contrary, not only are the vast majority of Muslims NOT extremists but the vast majority of the victims of Muslim extremism are Muslims!

We would all be better off to remember that Muslims suffer far worse at the hands of Islamic terrorists than we do. For instance, did you know that a string of well coordinated terrorist attacks last year in predominantly Muslim Iraq claimed the lives of 75 people and injured over 350 others? That’s twice as many people killed in one day than have died in Muslim extremist attacks in North America since 9/11. You didn’t hear that news story? Well, that’s understandable because those attacks happened on the same day as the Boston Marathon bombings, I guess it just wasn’t as newsworthy. Part of me can’t help but think that it doesn’t pay in news media to report attacks that are made on Muslims. Of course, we are all hearing a lot about extremists in Iraq now but again it seems we only hear about it because westerners are being victimized. Our news media tends to give a lot more airtime to the handful of westerners ISIL has executed instead of the droves of Syrians and Iraqis they’ve murdered, brutalized, or enslaved.

This is part of a growing trend since the 9/11 attacks where our public discourse has become very insular and ethnocentric. We style Muslims as outsiders, or worse, the enemy. It is one of the most shameful things I can tell you about my beloved country that we are quite Islamaphobic. A recent Gallup poll found that 54% of Canadians are Islamaphobic with gusts of up to 69% of people in Quebec and the Maritime provinces having a negative view of Muslims. Many, if not most, of these people have never even had a single five minute conversation with a Muslim in their lives. Canadians have behaved very disappointingly in respect to Islam because we’ve allowed ourselves at the level of our cultural discourse to be manipulated by our fear.

I am quite passionately against Islamaphobia because I have seen its effects close up in my own life. You see, I happen to be deeply in love with a woman who, among the many other amazing things I could tell you about her, is also a lovely shade of brown. This has always meant that she encounters a certain level of racism and ignorance in her everyday life; mostly the racism she encounters is fairly muted and motivated by simple ignorance but some of her stories are completely shocking. For instance, one of her elementary school teachers was really quite racist toward her and she had to deal with that for a whole school year. Then there was the time my own grandmother took us out for dinner and her and her boyfriend proceeded to explain to my wife that, and I quote: “all the people who come here from India are murderers and criminals”. The thing that amazes me the most is the grace with which my wife handles racism like this. I doubt I could be as calm; I know that over dinner with my grandmother I certainly wasn’t.

However, no stories could prepare me, or indeed her, for the new reality of being a brown person in Canada on september eleventh, 2001. Previous to this my wife’s experiences with racism were isolated experiences from a relative minority of individuals. On september eleventh she went to the University as usual to find herself getting nasty looks from people in the halls and several people who actually said really inappropriate things to her, like “what are you even doing here?”. Of course, it was worse other places; a man was arrested when he showed up, armed, at a Muslim elementary school in Calgary because he “just wanted to talk to them”. Believe me when I tell you that the september eleventh terrorist attack effected me deeply too but I understand in a way most white people don’t that it effected the brown people of Canada very differently.

This heinous level of bigotry died down eventually but has never gone away. Today in North America hate crimes against Muslims, and anyone that looks particularly Muslim like Sikhs, are ten times higher than before the September eleventh attack, and they’re more likely to be violent than before. Of course, there remains the fact that the amount of people who hold a negative view of Muslims in North America is over half across the board, which means if you are a Muslim every person you meet is statistically more likely to dislike and distrust you for it than they are to like you or be indifferent. There are a lot of things I can say about this reality. I could tell you it’s not right, that it’s sad, that it’s stupid, that it isn’t based on the facts, that it’s bigoted, that it’s offensive, or that it disgusts me and insults my intelligence personally; all of those things are true but they are not the most important thing I can tell you about this sad new reality. The most important thing I can tell you about the way our culture has been saturated with this skewed, bigoted view of the relationship between Islam and terrorism is that it is exactly what the terrorists want.

When people use terror tactics to fight their battles it is because they are small and marginalized and therefore must depend on the vast majority of people to fight amongst each other and generally make bad decisions trying to fight an enemy that they can’t find, Islamic terrorism is no different. In fact, I’m done calling these people Islamic anymore, I know enough about Islam to know that terror attacks are unconditionally condemned in both the Qu’ran and the Hadith so, from here on, I will call these people murderous scumbag extremists. Murderous scumbag extremist is a better descriptor anyway, and it can be used across all religio-political lines. When murderous scumbag extremists use terror tactics they do it because it inspires fear and large groups of scared people have not been known, historically, to make prudent and wise decisions about what to do to handle the problems they face. When the murderous scumbag extremists can connect their brand of extremist garbage with Islam and successfully make large swaths of people afraid of, not just the scumbags, but all Muslims that works tremendously in their favour. Basically, this means that the scumbags can count on Islamaphobes to do most of their heavy lifting.

When people expect other Muslims to explain, defend, or apologize for the actions of a few scumbags who claim to share a religion with them it is an insult to their dignity. It works so beautifully well for the scumbags because it creates a false dichotomy where decent Muslims are somehow responsible for the scumbags in their midst and they must either condemn them or they are considered implicit. In my mind no notion could more clearly spell out to Canadian Muslims that we think they are a “them” instead of part of us. Perhaps take a moment to consider how that situation must look from the perspective of the Muslim community: you are told you have to apologize for the actions of people you don’t like to get the approval of people who don’t like you. I can’t imagine why more Muslims wouldn’t be lining up for that deal. Terror groups love this type of alienation because not only does it help them accomplish their goals but they also largely depend on disaffected, disenfranchised youth to grow their numbers. It’s like the most depressing Chinese finger trap you can imagine: the more we fear Muslims the better it gets for the scumbags, the better it gets for the scumbags the more terror they can create, the more terror the scumbags can create the more we fear Muslims. If you’re anything like me this crazy cycle can get a bit depressing. It is okay because I want to share the one truly radical act we can all participate in that can break this cycle of craziness, and it’s possibly the most “Made In Canada” solution I could think of.

Those of us in Canada, and anywhere else for that matter, who are not Muslims need to find and hang out with some Muslims!

The best thing we can do at an individual level to fight extremist scumbags around the world is to be invested in the lives of Muslims in our communities. Find a Muslim, or better yet a Muslim family, grab a coffee with them and just get to know them. Challenge yourself to not even bring up Islam, they’re probably tired of explaining themselves anyway. Find out what they’re like, where their kids go to school, if they like sports, maybe you like the same TV shows, you’ll never know until you ask. For your own sake more than theirs simply take some time to connect with any Muslim human being so that next time the media or someone on Facebook tries to paint Islam as some faceless, homogenous mass of scariness you can put a human face on the religion and stop the bigotry in its tracks. The more Muslims you can do this with, the more you’ll grow as a person and the more your life will be enriched by the experience. The more Canadians can do this and the more we will grow as a country and possibly the best side effect of this whole process: life will get better for brown Canadians.

This may sound simplistic, or worse, naive! *gasp* But friendship and understanding will fight extremism better than a bullet any day. The extremists love it when we kill them anyway, in their mind it gives their cause more legitimacy, reinforces their rhetoric that we’re evil, and creates a martyr for them to idolize. When we associate Islam and all Muslims with extremism the better it is for the scumbags because they want Muslims to feel isolated and be reviled by the rest of the world and they also want Muslims to resent the people who treat them this way. Most of all, the scumbags want Muslims and non-Muslims to fear and hate each other because people who fear and hate each other don’t come together to fight their common enemies; in fact they spend most of their energy fighting each other. Thus far we have allowed the extremists agenda to control our public and media discourse on terrorism, but we need to stop that. It is the nature of extremism to always benefit from the fear and hatred of others, this is why terror tactics work so well for these scumbags. No sane person can effectively fight that level of insanity.

So, what should we do? We should fight extremism the Canadian way: Muslims and non-Muslims should get together and have some coffee. Let’s face it, the responsibility here is mostly in the court of non-Muslims because most Muslims in Canada already have some non-Muslim friends; we’re going to have to pick up some of our slack if we want to meet Muslim Canadians half-way. Every cup of coffee we share is a blow to extremism, every new friendship forged between Muslims Canadians and other Canadians is a victory for us. Extremism can only gain by keeping us apart and it is a win-win if we can bring ourselves together. Let’s start fighting extremism where we have the advantage, at the hockey rinks, playgrounds, and Tim Hortons of our country. You might actually make a life-long friendship out of the deal, but at the very least you’ll get some coffee and a donut and that can’t be a bad thing.

Fight terrorism! Go make a friend on purpose!

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About crunchydad

First and Foremost I am Husband to Sonya, my lovely better half, and father to Amelia Parvati Benson, my beautiful little girl. I am a "crunchy" dad in the sense that I parent in a fairly non-traditional way in North America. I use cloth diapers, not out of any environmental concern as such but because my daughter is wickedly allergic to disposables. I babywear because I love it and it is the best thing I've ever discovered; I have literally never used a stroller in my life and, unless I decide to use a stroller when I jog, I never will. We cosleep (go ahead and look it up) and it really works well for us. Finally, and these four are just the major points, we practice baby-lead solids, which means our daughter feeds herself (most of the time) and eats all the foods we eat. I have A Bachelor of Religious Studies degree from the University of Calgary; if you are wondering, no, that does not mean I am becoming a priest (seriously, you have no idea how often I get that question). Studying religion is my passion and I have continued with it after my formal education ended. I have two great dogs, Scotty and Baxter, that round out my little family unit and that is the broad strokes on what makes me the very happiest Crunchy Dad that ever did crunch!
This entry was posted in Bigotry, Canada, Compassion, How to Fight Terrorism, insanity, Islam, Religion, stupidity, Terrorism, The Human Condition, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Fighting Terrorism The Canadian Way!

  1. Louchlyn says:

    This was great!!! I’m totally gonna do this!

  2. LOVEKILLSHATEEVERYTIME says:

    in order to fully understand the situation it is essential to read the KORAN and understand what it teaches ALL muslims….. as they all follow its teachings….. is it a coincedence that most places muslims live in and share with other religions ….they are volatile….. please read about what a kafir is…. and what the koran teaches about them…. how does the koran say to treat kafirs……
    muslims and violence have been hand in hand for a very long time…… why is it such a sin that a muslim person marries a non muslim and converts to another religion… but on the other hand if a muslim person marries a non muslim and gets them to convert to islam it is praised….. why are non muslims looked down upon so badly in the holy book…… in fact prophet sal actually said to kill all kafirs as they r evil in a passage from the koran….. it is their way or no way…..
    Yes its a different matter that a lot of muslims dont strictly follow it otherwise it would be even more volatile….. but everything that the extremists are doing they have derived from the koran…..
    you say that they shouldnt apologise everytime somthng happens..? My man i have yet to see a molby or a muslim priest fully condemn the extremists ….. they seem to say a lil and bypass it…..
    once again …. to understand whats happening learn where they get their direction from…… if muslims werent taught to hate kafirs (from the koran) then they would have mixed with other cultures more freely…. (dont look at modern muslims who have been westernised….. they dont follow a lot of things from the koran (because its not pracical where they live) im not racist but if a religion teaches love for one and hate for the rest ……. i dont agree…. love and respect is a right that EVERYBODY should share……. bottom line westerners shouldnt have interfered with such a volatile race……… if i am wrong please forgive me as i am only going by what i have read and discussed with other muslims….. please shed some light crunchy dad…..

    • crunchydad says:

      Dear Lovekillshateeverytime,

      I have decided to post your comment to hopefully help some people and also to give everyone an idea of the ignorance Muslims have to deal with all the time. First, let me congratulate you on the most ironic WordPress handle I have seen so far.

      You see, LKHET, you actually stumbled quite by chance into something of an expert. I bet you weren’t expecting that. I can tell you exactly what a “kafir” is; a kafir is a “coverer”. You see, about fourteen centuries ago agriculture was still largely not done with very sophisticated technology in most of the world and there were divisions of labour in the planting of crops, kafir being the person who covered seeds back over with dirt; As a farmer and trader this would have been a very familiar term to Muhammed. Does that make it clearer? of course it doesn’t, welcome to interpreting Islam. You see, quranic arabic is a language where words can have a polychotomy of meanings; this is still the case even in English, if I say “I’ll have a number two” it means something very different depending on whether I’m in a bathroom or a Chinese restaurant.

      Quranic arabic is far more fluid and the use of the word kafir is idiomatic which makes things even weirder for the interpreter. You see, noone actually knows for certain what Muhammed meant by the word. This is something extremists love because it gives them leeway, they are free to interpret the word in the most pleasing possible way to themselves. The rest of the Islamic world knows kafir doesn’t apply to all non-Muslims because of all the other things Muhammed said about peace and not killing, but extremists like to take things in absolute terms and devoid of context so the extremists will take this as a wholesale indictment of all non-Muslims; extremists like al qaeda and ISIS, but also extremists like you.

      That’s right, LKHET, bad news: You are an extremist interprerter of the Quran. You, like the small fringe terror groups of any religion, pick those verses that you can twist and distort to confirm your own ignorant, bigoted view of Islam and ignore all else. I think you should apologize for being such an ignoramus… but I’m confident you won’t.

      In reality, the word kafir likely refers to those who attempted to pervert Muhammed’s own teachings to their own end; given the extremist’s predilection to taking the Quran out of context and literally editing the Hadith for their own purposes, it is the extremists who are the kafir.

      Where you say “My man i have yet to see a molby or a muslim priest fully condemn the extremists” I think what you mean is Imam and… I literally have no idea what a ‘molby’ is supposed to be… a mufti maybe? -clearly you have done exhaustive research into Islam-, the fact that you have not seen it is proof of only one thing: you have not done any research to even check if it has happened, you merely assumed, because some Islamic authority didn’t stop by your house, it has never happened. In point of fact, the event I referenced here received a condemnation and a wish of condolences to Nathan Cirillo’s family on social media and published in several papers from Canada’s highest Islamic council the next day. Furthermore, here’s a list of prominent Islamic people and bodies who have condemned terrorism:

      http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php

      http://www.austinmuslims.org/index.php/educational-articles/general-articles/155-why-arent-muslims-speaking-out-against-terrorism.html

      Many leaders have gone so far as issuing a fatwa, which is an actual pronouncement from a qualified Islamic jurist, against many of the terrorist leaders. This is not an idle threat, it is a conviction of the individual in absentia. So, yes they do condemn them, they do it all the time.

      Next, the part where you excuse modern Muslims as not true Muslims, again, this is because you are an extremist and also completely ignorant of Islamic history. The rise of Wahabist Islam as well as virtually every other extreme form of Islam in the modern world can be traced directly back to Western encouragement. The al Sauds were maneuvered into power by Britain to fight the evils of the Ottoman Empire (a secular constitutional democracy that was more progressive than Britain in every way at the time). The regimes of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Sadam Hussein’s leadership of the Baath party in Iraq were both backed by the US to fight the “evil” that is socialism. Even Iran’s current government came into power because Britain had exploited Iran for so long that they finally revolted and in the resultant war (in which the US gave Iraq chemical weapons even though they knew they would use them on Iranian civilians) religious zealots were able to gain power. So, far from your assumption that Islam is a violent race (that actually does make you a racist seeing as that is both a massive generalization and Islam is not a race, but I am more than willing to believe it is entirely racism of ignorance rather than actual hate), it is in fact the west that has spent the better part of over a century encouraging, funding, and arming the most brutal and thuggish groups within Islam to suit our own less than altruistic intentions. I think it’s fair to say we probably shouldn’t resort to the hypocrisy of blaming Islam for a problem they’ve been fighting for centuries that we’ve been creating for over a century: to paraphrase you “Westerners should never have BEEN such a volatile people” and this problem would not be so bad now. In your case, maybe you should work on understanding that yes, the moderates are the older form of Islam and the ones who are more energetically attempting to follow all of the precepts of their religion, and that the extremists are only indulging in those kernels of brutality they can twist their religion into seeming as though it endorses.

      I hope that has shed some light on the issue for you, LKHET. I sincerely hope you take what I have said to heart and truly live up to the love that your handle aspires to, instead of the ignorance on display in your comment. I do forgive you…. unreservedly and only this once. go forth and learn to be a better, more loving person. Maybe try the coffee thing and see where that takes you.

      All the best,
      Crunchydad

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