Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mind Games

Warren Kinsella's "I am not afraid" campaign seems to be gaining momentum. Various bloggers of all political stripes are jumping on the bandwagon. At first blush this seems like an exciting, non-partisan approach to the recent (alleged) terrorist threats.

However, in Friday's National Post, Adam Radwanski countered that while we shouldn't be looking over our shoulders for terrorists to spring out from the bushes, this type of in-your-face nose-thumbing isn't helpful either. He advises that we should simply laugh it off and go about our business. What Kinsella is doing, according to Radwanski, invites too much attention to the matter and feeds the collective ego of the enemy:

"The talk-radio lines and letters pages have been filled with plenty of hand-wringing. Someone apparently felt the need last weekend to break some windows at a mosque. But the sense one gets is that most Torontonians -- at least the ones who live and work downtown, where any terror strike would likely hit -- have modified their behaviour not one iota in the past week.

This is not the reaction we're supposed to be having. From the outset, the message from the media has been that we've been jolted out of our innocence. That life will never be the same. That it's time to be afraid -- very afraid..."

"Personally, I'd say giggling mockingly is just about the best thing ordinary civilians can do. Not because it's funny, of course, that a bunch of young men who grew up in Canada want to kill Canadians. But because giggling is the last thing in the world that those young men would want..."

"...The police, intelligence agents and others who need to spend most of their time worrying about terrorism seem to be on the ball.

As for the rest of us, even the well-intentioned effort to get Torontonians to wear We Are Not Afraid T-shirts -- what Bill Carroll was complaining about -- is too much attention for these guys. Better just to giggle at them."

Today's National Post included this letter to the editor from Alex Mills of Winnipeg:

Re: Be Not Afraid. Be Very Not Afraid, Adam Radwanski, June 9.

I tend to agree with Mr. Radwanski's idea that we should continue on with our normal activities and not give these terrorist thugs the satisfaction of thinking they are disrupting our lives.

But I do not agree "that our pluralistic live-and-let-live spirit is exactly what the jihadis hate most," but rather that is what they take advantage of most...

Only fools would say they are not afraid in these times. Let us go about our everyday lives but at the same time be very, very vigilant. It is time we Canadians took the war on terrorism at home more seriously.

So who is right? What approach is the best? I'm conflicted on this one.

Thoughts? Maybe we should be asking Dr. Phil again.


Liberal Fortunes said...

I am kind of confused on this issue. After the arrests, I thought oh good Canada’s security did what they were supposed to do. Although the threat was real, CSIS and the RCMP had them so closely monitored, that this group never could have pulled off any terrorist crime.

Then I see this “I am not afraid” stuff, thinking to myself, should I be afraid? Does the intention have the opposite result? I am not afraid, because it hasn’t occurred to me to be afraid. Am I supposed to become fearful, only to be brave enough to sport a T-shirt?

I am confused myself.

Lord Omar said...

Hel-lo, Jo-anne,

I am personally not for a big show of "No Fear" resilience as nothing happened. I believe a rally to show support for our Police Services would be more appropriate. Making a big deal of fear, or the lack there of, simply plays into the hands and minds of those whose goal is to instill that fear in the first place.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Hel-lo, Om-m-mar...

A rally for our police services. How interesting. Well, I would certainly support a rally for the RCMP, but not the OPP condsidering the events in Caledonia!

Lord Omar said...

I should point out that I really don't support having a rally for our Police Services either, but I'd rather see something like that then trumpeting the "Fear Factor" to the high heavens.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Yes, I see your point. At the very least we should be supporting investigative measures that have a legitimate purpose in keeping us safe.

RGM said...

I'm inclined to agree more with Mills' notion that we really ought not to be giggling in the face of one victory, no matter how important, over a terrorist plot in Canada. Because if they ever do carry one out successfully, we sure as hell won't be laughing then.
I do disagree with him on one thing though. Vigilance to protect our democracy is required, but that doesn't mean we have to be afraid, just conscious and aware.

Riley Hennessey said...

I support Kinsella's attempts.

I want to thump my chest and say "screw you" to these idiots who try to harm us.

Who cares that they weren't successful. Who cares how dumb they were. Do we think there aren't more? Do we think they were alone? Let's get serious here.

I stand up with Kinsella and thump my chest and say "no more". We're not going to sit lightly and pretend we're not a target. We're not going to sit lightly and wait til the next time. I want to say Canada's foreign policy is not dictated by the NDP on the left, or the nut-bag terrorists in other other extreme. We make our own way, and by god we'll do it as we please.

When you threaten my parliament, when you threaten my government, when you threaten my countries economic or social values, then you better believe I'm gonna stand up and lay the law down.

Coming out with Kinsella's idea is showing our pride, our strength, and our resolve that you can come at us with everything you got, but in the end we'll be the ones standing.

Red Tory said...

Given the knee-jerk reaction amongst some Conservatives about the need to “crack down” (whatever that means!) on the threat of so-called “homegrown terrorists” and the somewhat hysterical coverage in the media, I don’t think the “I am not afraid” campaign is misplaced. Essentially, it’s a call for calmer heads to prevail and to not cede our values and way of life to those who would seek to instill a sense of fear and apprehension in the public. Some appear to contend that because the plot in this instance was so ridiculous and didn’t amount to anything that the “I am not afraid” campaign is itself an overreaction and perhaps there’s some truth to that, but I view it more as a statement of principle -- we will not be intimidated and there is no place in Canada for radical ideologies that are inimical to our fundamental values as a people and a nation.

nomdeblog said...

Well the top banana OBL always said the USA was a weak horse so that’s why he came up with the strategy to hit the WTC.

These guys don’t like a strong horse.

So how can we look like a strong horse?

I think the in your face chest thumping looks more like a strong horse than trying to pretend nothing’s happening like Clinton did. Clinton’s America was viewed as weak because it was.

But the in denial crowd of Bob Rae and most of his fellow leadership wannabes won’t like Kinsella’s plan. Iggy might like it though.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Well, the general consensus so far seems to favour Kinsella's plan.

Anonymous said...

My family is from Northern Ireland, I can tell you stories about terrorism that only a few would believe.

You go after them quietly, you don't provoke them

Joanne (True Blue) said...

"You go after them quietly, you don't provoke them"

Anonymous, perhaps you could give us an example of one of those stories from Ireland.

Yeah, at some gut level I am thinking that the big "I am not afraid" campaign is only going to strengthen their resolve; not weaken it.

We feel better banding together though, and for sure we shouldn't change our way of life other than to become much more aware of what it going on in our communities; and to challenge what we perceive to be extremist language and hate-mongering.

At this point I fully expect some of the wart-like trolls on this blog to attack me using my last sentence. I wonder how long it will take?

(Wart-like because they are annoying and so hard to get rid of)

nomdeblog said...

The Irish problem is completely different. It is more like the Quebec FLQ was; neither were a world movement. I know of no Irish threats outside the UK.

There are 1.3 billion Muslims spread around the world. That includes a percentage of Jihadists who want to make the world Muslim. They are a growing part of the population in Europe that is otherwise barren.

Europe will soon be Eurabia. What does Canada want to be? What signal do we want to send to the Islamofascists? They aren’t a country like Ireland; they are a global movement from another era

Part of our problem is that the enemy has declared War on us. We haven’t even named the enemy let alone declared War on it. Our political class in the Western world won’t lead and won’t fight this with the necessary propaganda to win. So what Kinsella is doing is partly to send the signal to politicians like McGuinty who won’t even tackle a small problem in Caledonia. McGuinty is like Clinton, a very weak horse. Mayor Miller is the same.

It isn’t about whether this strengthens the resolve of radicals or not, they will never quit, this battle has been going on for centuries; it goes into remission once in awhile and then re-ignites. The issue is what is going to strengthen our resolve in our politically correct, pacifist culture to defend itself. And whether the Moderates will join us so that we can help each other.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

"The issue is what is going to strengthen our resolve in our politically correct, pacifist culture to defend itself"

Nomdeblog, that is totally awesome. You have said so much with incredible insight. You should start posting this type of thing on your own blog.

I'll have to take some time to ponder all this. Thanks so much for your comments.

Candace said...

FWIW, I disagree with Kinsella et al, not on the idea per se, but on the "I am not afraid" aspect, which looks suspiciously (IMHO) to whistling while walking past a graveyard.

I'd rather see a "Screw YOU mo'fo's" movement, i.e. an angry, don't-even-think-about-it response, than a "we are not afraid" one. Because the latter sounds rather weak & wishful thinking.

Mac said...

I'm with Candace... and that's not just because I love the expression "whistling while walking past a graveyard." (but I do!)

Can we all agree that some sort of response is appropriate, even if it's only something as simple as becoming a bit more aware of what's going on around us?

Bluster like "I'm not afraid" usually has exactly the opposite effect but Kinsella is suggesting the time-tested Liberal method of addressing problems: do something which has no direct effect on the problem (let alone resolving it) but allows people to feel like they're making a difference. The only thing that's missing is a way to shovel money to Liberal friendly groups.

There are no easy solutions, especially when addressing complex problems like ending terrorism. Extremist just demonstrated they can sway young Canadians within our borders. We need to demonstrate we won't tolerate terrorism but with this caveat:

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Mac - Thanks for the 'monster' quote. I remember Harper referring to something like that during the last election campaign; of course he was referring to the Liberals then.

Candace and Mac, I tend to agree with both of you on this. Maybe a new slogan? There's a challenge.

Something involving what Bush attributed to Harper: Steely resolve.

Mac said...

Slogans, eh? Let's see...

"Stephen Harper: doing the right things for the right reasons!"

Mac said...

Nietzsche (1844-1900) is an interesting character, to say the least. I've only read one of his books and a collection of his essays.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks, Mac, for the Nietzsche info.

I like your slogan. We just have to jazz it up a bit.

How about, "Standing firm for Canada"?

That takes away the 'whistling past the graveyard' factor.