Canadians should be more critical of militant Islamists

Canadians should be more critical of militant Islamists

Until Emerson remarked that Canada was not as susceptible as the U.S. and Europe to implied threats of violence if anything about Islam is criticized, I hadn’t thought Canada was anything special. PETER WORTHINGTON– QMI AGENCY – Toronto Sun  

Steve Emerson
Ever since Steve Emerson’s throw-away remarks about Canada on Michael Coren’s daily Arena Sun News Network show, I’ve been brooding. For close to two decades, I’ve been an admirer of Emerson, who started as a journalist and has made himself into one of the most knowledgeable “experts” on Islamic militants and terrorists. Until Emerson remarked that Canada was not as susceptible as the U.S. and Europe to implied threats of violence if anything about Islam is criticized, I hadn’t thought Canada was anything special. Rather, I’ve been critical of our media’s apparent reluctance to say anything critical for fear of provoking Islamic militants to demonstrate, or indulge in the sort of violence that has left people dead in other parts of the world. In Canada, only one publication ran photos of the Danish cartoons that spoofed political aspects of the Prophet Mohammed — and that publication (Western Standard) is now out of business. Its proprietor (Ezra Levant) had to spend a lot of money defending himself (successfully) against zealots of Canada’s human rights commissariat. But there were no street demonstrations or violence — just protests by individual Muslims. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has bodyguard protection when she visits Canada for speeches, but there have been no threats against her here, nor demonstrations against her right to speak. Having a constant bodyguard is her fate of living in the U.S. which is not as serene or tolerant as life in Canada seems to be. Born in Somalia, which she fled to Holland to escape an arranged marriage in Toronto, Hirsi Ali was elected to the Dutch Parliament where her life was threatened over a film, Submission, she wrote, documenting how Muslim women are oppressed under Sharia law. The maker of the film, Theo van Gogh was assassinated in 2004 — a warning note that Hirsi Ali would be next, stabbed into his chest with a knife. Honour killings in Canada have been roundly condemned by almost everyone, with the possible exception of Justin Trudeau who has objected to the practice being described as “barbaric.” In the past, I’ve described timidity among our politicians and media to criticize Muslim extremism as cowardice disguised as principle — fear of offending and possibly causing demonstrations where people might be hurt. That sentiment, I think, does a disservice to generally moderate Muslims who may find it offensive when their religion is criticized, but who recognize that free speech is sacrosanct and precious in a democracy. Regarding Emerson’s cautious tribute to Canada, it could be argued that Sun Media newspapers have been more outspoken than most in documenting Muslim extremism-cum-terrorism. The chain has always meticulously clarified that it’s only the minority who threaten violence, and that the overwhelming majority of Muslims adapt well and comfortably in Canadian society. That said, while individual clerics and organizations may scold Sun coverage on occasion, there have been no overt demonstrations or threats. Gosh, we’ve had Jewish organizations criticizing aspects of Sun coverage, with no suggestion of violent reaction. Not too different from Muslim reaction. It wasn’t always so sanguine. A few years ago, I remember being upset when the editor rejected a couple of my columns on grounds that Muslims might react. One was an obituary of the gifted and ferociously brave Italian polemicist, Oriana Fallaci, who — among other things — believed vehemently that Islam was a violent faith. Fallaci may have been too adamant — but then so are people like Christopher Hitchens whose writings have been unadmiring of Mother Teresa. In their respective ways, both Fallaci and Hitchens are the essence of free and independent journalism. One never knows, but I think the likelihood of violence has decreased when Islamic extremism is publicly criticized. In part, that’s thanks to the courage of reasonable Muslims who stand tall. The likes of Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Farzana Hassan and Sun Media columnist Salim Mansur, are among those who stand out, defending freedom against extremism. To some, the lack of Muslim reaction is testimony to Canada’s non-violent nature and traditions: Even our pathological desire to be loved, or to not cause offense. I would argue differently. Anyone who thinks Canada is a nation of wimps, has never been to a Junior A hockey game. These kids are always in the thickest of action, rarely backing down, and are the antithesis of non-aggressive milquetoasts. Again, when judging Canadian character, one need look no further than our soldiers. In every mission — wartime or peacekeeping — Canadian soldiers get involved with local populations and are the most effective diplomats, humanitarians and social workers, the country produces. Soldiers tend to be generous and irreverent — a magnet for children who seem to know good things happen when they are around Canadian soldiers. That said, historically Canadians have also been among the most ferocious and effective soldiers in war. In the First World War, our volunteer army abandoned the British custom of marching into battle with full kit and in straight lines. Canadians ran, dodged, ducked, sought cover in shell holes, ever pressing forward. Fewer casualties; greater effect. Canadians started night raids, which won them enmity from the Brits who preferred to fight during daylight hours and sleep peacefully at night. Not the Canadians. They wanted the damn war over — and to win it. Canadians, like the Germans, took to the machine gun which British commanders rejected as upsetting the balance of riflemen’s firepower in a division. Curiously, Canadians have proved superior combat soldiers in every war they’ve fought. After Afghanistan, our soldiers are under no illusions. Most would agree with Winston Churchill’s observation in 1899: “The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until Islam has ceased to be a great power … Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social unadmiring development of those who follow it … a militant and proselytizing faith.”

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