Friday, September 03, 2010

Seven-year-old is latest "terror suspect"

"What have I done? Why only me?" a bewildered child asks his father, Izzeldin Abuelaish.

Dr. Abuelaish, a true man of peace who has never swerved from that goal even after three of his daughters were shelled to death by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead, is presently on a tour promoting his book,
I Shall Not Hate. The tour was to include the US, and after completing a mountain of paperwork, he received visas for himself and his family. Except for seven-year old Abdullah. That request is "under review," without explanation.

Abuelaish wonders about the effect of this exclusion on his kid's thinking.

Rick Salutin, who brings the matter to our attention, will no doubt get into a heap of trouble for this comment:

I thought of this during the recent "homegrown terrorism" news, which involved a Muslim Canadian who plays ball hockey and auditioned for Canadian Idol. A terror expert said it's scary, "they" could be anywhere, even beside you at a rink. Does this mean Nazem Kadri, a top Leafs draft pick, should issue a disclaimer? I think such matters are less opaque and are rooted in phenomena like Abdullah's visa, the U.S. mosque furor or attacks on Muslim countries. As for the "lure of jihad" to the young and privileged – I think it has less to do with religion than with the nature of youth, which leans to absolutes, and privilege, which senses injustice precisely due to its status. The strain can also be acute among Muslim parents who assure their kids about justice in a society like ours, then feel they’ve let them down...."We are pushing them to think of something bad," his dad says. "This child when he's grown up will remember: 'I was suspended.'"

You can just hear the sneers from the pitchfork-and-torches crowd. "Yeah, there they go again, terrorism is all our fault."

Dan Gardner, in an excellent piece in today's Ottawa Citizen, lays bare the shallowness and hypocrisy of such non-thinking. Looking for causes of anger and violence is all very well when the topic is, say, the Russian's flattening of Chechnya, which spawned hyper-violent Islamist movements. But to suggest that the Taliban's alleged targeting of our nation's capital might have something to do with our presence in Afghanistan, as the Toronto Star's columnist Haroon Siddiqui has learned, is tantamount in the vulgar mind to apologizing for militant Islamism. Two weights, two measures.

To know all, pace Madame de Staël, is not to forgive all. But knowing as much as we can is crucial to understanding what at first blush appears to be incomprehensibly inhuman behaviour. Making it comprehensible doesn't render terrorist acts less appalling, but it might supply the
necessary understanding to prevent them in the future. Whether it's foreign wars or petty humiliations at home, the seeds of anger are planted, and in some they grow into grotesque and malignant shapes. That lesson seems singularly difficult to teach, however, as well as to learn.

No comments: