UPDATE: Multiple conservative commentators have claimed that this article and my subsequent discussion of it are about this morning’s shooting of a solider in Ottawa. Aside from the fact that what I wrote is expressly about a completely different incident – one that took place in Quebec on Monday – this article and my comments were published before this morning’s shooting spree was reported. So unless someone believes I possess powers of clairvoyance, the claim that I was commenting on the Ottawa shooting – about which virtually nothing is known, including the identity and motive of the shooter(s) – is obviously false.
Then there’s also the extremely predictable accusation that I was justifying the attack on the soldiers. I know from prior experience in discussing these questions that no matter how clear you make it that you are writing about causation and not justification, many will still distort what you write to claim you’ve justified the attack. That’s true even if one makes as clear as the English language permits that you’re not writing about justification: “The issue here is not justification (very few people would view attacks on soldiers in a shopping mall parking lot to be justified). The issue is causation.” If there’s a way to make that any clearer, please let me know.
One more time: the difference between “causation” and “justification” is so obvious that it should require no explanation. If one observes that someone who smokes four packs of cigarettes a day can expect to develop emphysema, that’s an observation about causation, not a celebration of the person’s illness. Only a willful desire to distort, or some deep confusion, can account for a failure to process this most basic point.
TORONTO – In Quebec on Monday, two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who, as The Globe and Mail reported, “converted to Islam recently and called himself Ahmad Rouleau.” One of the soldiers died, as did Courture-Rouleau when he was shot by police upon apprehension after allegedly brandishing a large knife. Police speculated that the incident was deliberate, alleging the driver waited for two hours before hitting the soldiers, one of whom was wearing a uniform. The incident took place in the parking lot of a shopping mall 30 miles southeast of Montreal, “a few kilometres from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, the military academy operated by the Department of National Defence.”
The right-wing Canadian government wasted no time in seizing on the incident to promote its fear-mongering agenda over terrorism, which includes pending legislation to vest its intelligence agency, CSIS, with more spying and secrecy powers in the name of fighting ISIS. A government spokesperson asserted “clear indications” that the driver “had become radicalized.”
In a “clearly prearranged exchange,” a conservative MP, during parliamentary “question time,” asked Prime Minister Stephen Haprer (pictured above) whether this was considered a “terrorist attack”; in reply, the Prime Minister gravely opined that the incident was “obviously extremely troubling.” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney pronounced the incident “clearly linked to terrorist ideology,” while newspapers predictably followed suit, calling it a “suspected terrorist attack” and “homegrown terrorism.” CSIS spokesperson Tahera Mufti said “the event was the violent expression of an extremist ideology promoted by terrorist groups with global followings” and added: “That something like this would happen in a peaceable Canadian community like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu shows the long reach of these ideologies.”
In sum, the national mood and discourse in Canada is virtually identical to what prevails in every western country whenever an incident like this happens: shock and bewilderment that someone would want to bring violence to such a good and innocent country (“a peaceable Canadian community like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu”), followed by claims that the incident shows how primitive and savage is the “terrorist ideology” of extremist Muslims, followed by rage and demand for still more actions of militarism and freedom-deprivation.
Read the full article at The Intercept.