Thursday, July 19, 2012

Who is the monster? Omar Khadr or the average Canadian?

Just the other day blogger colleague Policy Frog tweeted "What's the average % of an article that most online commenters actually read before posting their lunatic crap? 10%?"

At least that.

A recent CP story on Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who has spent the past 10 years in Guantanamo Bay, displays this ignorance Policy Frog speaks of.

And more so...this article demands not only that you read the whole thing, but that you understand the history of the case, and that you can comprehend new developments. The Omar Khadr case, a "convicted" terrorist, has been dragging on for years, has lead to a 9-0 Supreme Court ruling upholding that the Canadian Government knowingly violated Khadr's rights as a Canadian Citizen.

It would not be surprising of course, to learn that people of the Winnipeg Free Press comment pool ("citizen journalists" to Dan Lett) think about as much of Omar Khadr as a press release from the US Government concerning "militants" killed in any random drone strike.

For it would appear that by and large people have now, 11 years after 9/11, fully bought into the idea that terrorists are evil people, and that anyone at Guantanamo Bay are there for a reason. As if torture regimes practiced by the US Government (and practiced against Omar Khadr, which the Canadian government was made aware of in 2003) are somehow justified.

I'd like to say that it undermines us as Canadians to condone this treatment on anyone, convicted of an offense or not. But the section of commentary on news sites leaves me with a taste of disgust and contempt for my fellow Canadians. How can it not, with such ignorant comments like this...

"I don't want to wind up being on a plane with this monster when he is free to roam the planet. Do you want this guy to be YOUR neighbor?"

Perhaps I should be mindful enough to cast aside such a statement and not let it bother me. But I fear this is what most Canadians would think about this man. A "monster." For being transported to a war zone, facing an assault by US Marines on your home, and throwing a single grenade. This apparently, makes one a monster.

It is overly easy to label the man a monster, especially if you buy into the US-lead narrative on what "terrorism" is, who is a terrorist, and what a terrorist action counts as. That all of our, Western, actions are "good" and all of their actions are bad, threatening, and endangering to our freedom.

Likewise it is easy to then draw a comparison that he would happily run around throwing grenades in East Toronto committing "jihad," except that no army of Canadian Special Forces would be surrounding his house, threatening to kill his family at any time.

So this single grenade-throwing kid "monster" shouldn't be allowed to spend the remainder of his sentence in Canada? Free from the law-flaunting due-process-denying torture-center known as Guantanamo Bay?

As Canadians, I'd like to think we'd have the decency to stand firm on our values. Which would include proper and just treatment of criminals. But apparently, many Canadians would rather have him "rot" in Guantanamo.

Who is the monster?

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