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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

4/30/2004

Civilities of Clash

I accused you and others of anti-patriotism. You didn't dispute my accusation. (Schoolyard taunts don't count.) Do you know why you didn't, Shaidle? Because you can't. You are incapable of disputation. (Circle-jerk "fisking" parties don't count.)
kevin grace on kathy shaidle
While I am delighted to see a spat between two socons of the sterling credentials of Grace and Shaidle - it distracts them from worrying that when the lectionary rolls around to Leviticus, Svend's storm troopers will prance up to the altar and, after stealing the Communion plate, arrest the reader for a hate crime - Grace does have a point in that Shaidle did not directly address his accusation. I rather thought I had in my post of 22 April. But I had not taken KMG as actually accusing me of anti-patriotism.

Apparently he was.


I have always been a little puzzled by the concept of patriotism. As a device for generating meaningless slogans it's damned handy - For King and Country and all that. But what does it actually mean to be a patriot? A Greek root, my OED tells me, patrios, of one's fathers: the definition, truncated, "One who defends or is zealous for his country's freedom or rights."

Presumably, to be anti-patriotic would mean to be against one's fathers and supine or indifferent to his country's freedom or rights.

My own view of the war on terror - which as KMG well knows is a shorthand for killing the Islamofascists before they kill us and not a "war against a technique" clever as the turn of phase is - is a war to protect a patrimony for which my father and grandfather each risked their lives. One in the trenches and then in the air over France in the First World War the other in a corvette in the North Atlantic in the Second. Not only am I not against what these men and their brothers in arms accomplished on Canada's behalf, I am in awe of their sacrifice and their valour. They gave Canada her freedom and her rights.

So, am I by suggesting that it is in Canada's interests to support the United States in the war on terror which I believe is being fought out in, inter alia, Iraq, supiine or indifferent to those rights and freedoms? Of course not. I think Canada's direct interest is to help demolish the poisonous radicalism which has seeped into Islam. I think that because I believe that radicalism is a direct threat to the West and to Canada. (Not to mention the pernicious effects it has for the women, moderates and non-Muslims in the states in which it has been allowed to grow unchecked.)

The fact that my views happen to co-incide with the views of the present American administration does not mean that they are any less an expression of Canadian patriotism and concern for the Canadian nation. My view, which has been reflected here with numbing regularity, is that defeating the Islamofascist attempt to impose a nasty, theological totalitarianism on the Muslim, and possibly the entire, world by force must be resisted by whatever means possible.

I also think that, on balance, it is almost always in Canada's interests to be allied with the United States. While there may be times we disagree, our relationship with America is the single most important relationship we have in the world. With America we need to pick our fights and Iraq was the wrong fight.

Invading Iraq and removing Saddam was a useful thing to do. Saddam was certainly supporting terror if only by paying the homicide bombers' families his bounty. (Of course he was far more deeply involved, but that would have been enough.) He had utterly corrupted the United Nations with his bribes and kickbacks. He defied the one body Canada loves to support by refusing full co-operation on the WMDs which he may or may not have had. But, most of all, Saddam needed to go because he was murdering, torturing and brutalizing his own people.

Was this Canada's fight? I think it should have been. Part of the freedoms and the rights my father and grandfather fought to protect was the idea that, in extremis, Canada reserved the right to help the victims of state terror. We could easily have said in the Second World War - Germany, nasty place, not our problem. (A position we, to our shame, did adopt during the long rape of China conducted by the Japanese in the run up to that war.) And had Germany, in 1940, sued for a separate peace with England, we could easily have said, "Great, problem solved." and gone home. But I cannot believe that a Canadian patriot would, in fact, be so craven.

For a moment, imagine the situation where America - rather than France and Russia - had been in bed with Saddam and an EU coalition had decided regime change was in order because of the documented atrocities Saddam was committing against his own people and because their intelligence suggested he had WMDs and was working on delivery capacity which could hit Europe. Would Canada have supported an invasion and sent troops? I hope so.

Even if America was opposed to a particular war I would hope that Canada would choose her own path in light of her own interests because that is the legacy of my father and grandfather, as zealous in the defense of their nation, as I am teaching my own sons to be.