Should Canadians Be Surprised at a Terrorist Attack?

Before any response to this critique of the Canadian government’s statements about the terrorist attack, read the entire post–including the addenda. I put this here to stimulate some much needed thought and conversation.

canadian terror shooter

(Note that the editorial was actually written about a previous attack, not the one pictured above.)

Try as hard as you can to step outside the fishbowl of what you hear all of the time from government and media in this nation, and make a heroic attempt to understand the events of our time from the position of someone on the receiving side of our endless meddling in the Middle East and the “War on Terror.”

I am referring to Glenn Greenwald’s commentary at The Intercept: “Canada, at War For 13 Years, Shocked That ‘A Terrorist’ Attacked Its Soldiers.”

Canada has spent the last 13 years proclaiming itself a nation at war. It actively participated in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and was an enthusiastic partner in some of the most extremist War on Terror abuses perpetrated by the U.S. Earlier this month, the Prime Minister revealed, with the support of a large majority of Canadians, that “Canada is poised to go to war in Iraq, as [he] announced plans in Parliament [] to send CF-18 fighter jets for up to six months to battle Islamic extremists.” Just yesterday, Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson flamboyantly appeared at the airfield in Alberta from which the fighter jets left for Iraq and stood tall as he issued the standard Churchillian war rhetoric about the noble fight against evil.

It is always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked and bewildered when someone brings a tiny fraction of that violence back to that country. Regardless of one’s views on the justifiability of Canada’s lengthy military actions, it’s not the slightest bit surprising or difficult to understand why people who identify with those on the other end of Canadian bombs and bullets would decide to attack the military responsible for that violence.

That’s the nature of war. A country doesn’t get to run around for years wallowing in war glory, invading, rendering and bombing others, without the risk of having violence brought back to it. Rather than being baffling or shocking, that reaction is completely natural and predictable. The only surprising thing about any of it is that it doesn’t happen more often.

As Glenn Greenwald so powerfully says, “The issue here is not justification (very few people would view attacks on soldiers in a shopping mall parking lot [or at a War Memorial, or on a New York Street-BA] to be justified). The issue is causation.”

The ideology of Islam is most definitely a problem—it has been since Muhammad repeatedly bloodied his sword and sexually-abused young girls hundreds of years ago—but as “The Dark Knight,” “Winter Soldier,” and so many other movies have explored in recent times, in responding to evil you must ensure you don’t become the very evil you say you’re trying to eliminate.

Engage your brain at deeper than a surface level, and then comment.