Ottawa shooter wasn’t a terrorist: he was a troubled man
Blaming a foreign enemy for your own shortcomings has been a popular policy for governments since the dawn of governance.
Stephen Harper’s repetitious employment of the term ‘terrorist’ is to dissociate Michael Zehaf-Bibeau from the mainstream of non-radicalized, non-politically deviant young Canadians.
It’s far easier to cast someone as an outsider than address the cause of such deviance.
The term itself, “terrorist”, has undergone some sort of semantic evolution since 9/11. The practical definition has become so broadly ambiguous that it is often misapplied, willfully or otherwise, by governments, civilians and combatants alike.
If “terrorism” is defined as “the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims”, then surely America’s drone wars would satisfy this definition.
The perpetrator in the Ottawa shootings was a crazed, troubled man who, so far, has only been proven to have had spurious links with terrorist organizations and cells.
Canada, along with many other countries including the U.S. and the U.K., must invest more money in treating the mentally ill and limiting the availability of firearms.
But most importantly, the West must create inclusive societies where migrant workers and their descendants do not feel excluded from an increasingly xenophobic, Islamophobic mainstream.
In his speech on Thursday, Harper reminded his compatriots that “Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks that we have seen around the world.”
A rather overdue realization for a Prime Minister of a country who, as the headline of a Glenn Greenwald article this week told us, has been at war for thirteen years—yet was shocked when one of their soldiers was attacked.
Bandwagoning onto U.S.-led “anti-terror” crusades throughout the Middle East will inevitably provoke an eventual response.
Attacks such as these, he remarked, are attacks upon “our country, our society, our values … as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all.”
Whilst everyone agrees that the Islamic State employs savage methods as they spread terror, dehumanizing your enemy gets you nowhere.
“Fight against the terrorist organizations who seek to brutalize those in other countries, with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores,” implored Harper.
“They will have no safe haven,” he told us.
By implicitly juxtaposing the dual notions of the savagery of terrorist organizations and the presumed civility of the people of these shores, he simply dichotomizes, alienates and offers nothing.
Harper, the man who eloquently concluded his speech by remarking that “today has been without question, a difficult day,” has no new ideas. His only solution to the attacks in Quebec and Ottawa this week is to bandwagon the U.S. into a new war of neocolonial implication as Bush’s War on Terror undergoes a renaissance.
This is not a solution, but a call to arms. If Western governments continue to use the tragic passing of men like Corporal Cirillo or Fusilier Drummer Rigby as the rationale for an escalation of the “war on terror”, simply because their murderer may have muttered, or indeed screamed “Allah Akbar,” then it is a war they will never win. It will only serve to perpetuate itself.