Thursday, February 9, 2017

Waves of Truth: murder in a Quebec Mosque

When last we met, this letter had appeared in the Hamilton Spectator.

“ You better worry, because that wave of truth and anger will come, and you, other so called progressives, and your immigrant neighbours will be the first to be washed away.”
            - F. Stevens, Hamilton

            Several days ago, some deranged maniac walked into a Quebec mosque and shot six people.

            Do I really need to spell this out? 

            Those who care don’t need to be told, and those who don’t, never will, so it might be a superfluous effort. But I’m going to try anyway. I live next to a Mosque, you see, where many of my neighbours worship, play basket ball, and hold used clothing bazaars. I also live near a gun store, which advertises Bushmasters (rifle of choice for Adam Lanza) in its front window.  I know there is at least one individual in this town who wants to “wash away” immigrants and progressives. So excuse me for being a little tense.

            The White House has already tried to cash in on the blood, citing it as justification for Trump’s immigration bans:

I suppose the logic here being that if those immigrants had stayed home, a white man might not have shot them.

            Even those disingenuous enough to see no connection at all with Fearless Leader’s purges down south might want to note the irony: six Muslims dead at the hands of a local, even as the President insists Muslims are dangerous and need to be kept out of the country. What are we to make of the home-grown terrorist? What, no hysteria? No nervous hand-wringing over the sick ideologies that poisoned his mind? No collective punishment for his community?

            Are we expected to believe he acted in isolation?

            I suppose we are, and to some extent we must: the many cannot be held responsible for the one. Those predisposed toward violence will inflict it under any pretense, be it religion or politics. But we don’t have to provide these weeds with such fertile soil. I for one am not keen to let religion or politics off the hook, finding in both as many calls to quash the moral impulse as to listen to it. I think we should pay attention to the ideologies in which such twisted individuals found inspiration. What reality did they choose to reside in? What truth – which alternative facts – did they choose to believe? What words gave shape to their thoughts and what thoughts gave way to actions?

            It seems trite to look for lessons, but there are reminders and warnings aplenty: of what can happen when a majority turns on a minority, when the powerful target the vulnerable, when certain segments of society are singled out for a greater share of the blame. When we are divided and further subdivided into ever more rigidly defined Uses and Thems, blood and tears always follow. 

L-R: Azzedine Soufiane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti,
Thabti Ibrahima Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane (CBC)