Questionable Motives

November 4, 2014

What is the lesson from a terrorist attack?

Filed under: Canada,Islam,military,terrorism,values — tildeb @ 10:57 am

On October 22, 2014, a recent covert to Islam decided to heed the call from ISIS to kill some people who represented the country of Canada in the name of bringing honour to Allah. Here’s the story from Wikipedia:

A series of shootings occurred on October 22, 2014, at Parliament Hill and nearby in Ottawa, Canada. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier on ceremonial guard duty at the Canadian National War Memorial. He then launched an attack in the nearby Centre Block parliament building, where members of the Parliament of Canada were attending caucuses. Zehaf-Bibeau was killed inside the building in a gunfight with parliament security personnel. Following the shootings, the downtown core of Ottawa was placed on lockdown while police searched for any potential additional threats.

The shootings took place two days after an attack on military personnel in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, which also killed a Canadian soldier. Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper said both of these attacks serve as a “grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.”

Yes these attacks were a reminder that we are a part of the world. But these attacks allowed Canadians to demonstrate to the rest of the world what secular values of nationhood mean in action:





















This is a typical overpass of a four lane divided highway running along a populated corridor between Windsor, Ontario and Quebec City in Canada. The Corporal body was driven from where he was killed in Ottawa to his home town of Hamilton. The journey along this section of highway is about 350 Km and has about 50 overpasses. When Corporal Cirillo’s body was repatriated to his home town, this was a typical image that greeted the small convoy.

The point is that our national anthem includes the words “We stand on guard for thee.’ Cirillo was ceremonially doing exactly that at the National War Memorial when he was shot and killed… not for who he was but for what he represented, what he was defending. That cannot be killed. It can, however, be a value reinvigorated in our hearts and minds. And this is exactly what such attacks do. They remind all of us -again – what it is that is worth defending: the rights and freedoms all of us share. What you’re seeing in this picture is the average Canadian and local municipal forces repaying that same debt all of us share and taking our turn… to stand on guard for him.

In case one might be tempted to see this event as some kind of media circus, let me assure you that it happened spontaneously. Across the country the same sentiment was expressed time and again at every local cenotaph. Poppies appeared. Hand written notes were left. Flowers set out by the anonymous. Even 3500 Km away in the recesses of the mountains of British Columbia, we find the same sentiment on display:

cenotaph William's Lake









This is what it means to be Canadian – different in all ways imaginable yet each a part of the whole by what we share: our values of freedom, equality rights, and the dignity of personhood that resides within the living heart of each person who wears a uniform. And even though the military brass was quick to order our men and women out of uniform to avoid being targets, I saw a common and spontaneous response to that: hundreds of local cadets and retired military people don their uniforms in the following days not just to make a statement of support but remind the military itself that we are not separate groups and organizations and institutions … but one people who share in the active defense of our values. This is the lesson from a terrorist attack and one that more terrorists themselves should heed because since our inception, Canada has been and shall remain a warrior nation first and a peacekeeper only second. We really do stand on guard for thee.


  1. Nicely said.

    Comment by john zande — November 4, 2014 @ 11:58 am | Reply

    • And should i add, everything you have written is why a country like Australia, which shares these secular values, will stand beside Canada.

      Comment by john zande — November 4, 2014 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

  2. Two peas in a pod!

    Comment by tildeb — November 4, 2014 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

    • Pod, foxhole, field… wherever required. (until the Commonwealth Games, of course)

      Comment by john zande — November 4, 2014 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

  3. Well written. How have you been. You haven’t been seen much lately

    Comment by makagutu — November 4, 2014 @ 12:36 pm | Reply

  4. Very well said Tildeb. I don’t want to turn this into a tirade against Islam because a) this isn’t the time and place and b) it’s not necessary because I already know how you feel about Islam. However, I feel something should be said. I wouldn’t describe myself as a Stephen Harper fan, but in a moment such as this, I am extremely glad that he is our Prime Minister and not Justin Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair. It frightens me very much to think that some (too many?) of us Canadians have become so pacifist that we would consider taking military action against ISIS a bad idea – or at the very least, something that we (Canada) shouldn’t take part in. I’m disgusted listening to Justin Trudeau condemn the attacks and ensuring that he doesn’t offend any Muslims by assuring them that this is an “aberration of their faith” or “an ideological propaganda posing as religion”. I get sick to my stomach listening to Thomas Mulcair describe these as the actions of a criminal, but not a terrorist. I see the cowardice in every level of government and media in making absolutely sure they don’t mention the word religion or Islam – instead preferring the word “ideology”. What’s it going to take to wake ourselves from this comma?
    P.S. I started my own blog called TheBoastfulBlasphemer on word press if you have some time to check it out. I also wrote a piece about these terrorist attacks. Feel free to critique it – it would be very much appreciated.

    Comment by Ashley — November 4, 2014 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

    • After the comments by the leader of the opposition and other opposition leader, I responded to a friend of mine who also criticized their comments but thought the internet might be the root cause of radicalization (he’s a staunch Catholic).

      I pointed out that “we currently have about 300000 Canadians (if similar to the British study) currently deemed ‘moderate’ muslims ready, willing, and able to take up the mantle of ‘extremism’ by a single act because they freely admit that they believe it is justifiable to kill others in the name of defending their faith.

      That’s why there are so many of these ‘single individuals’ popping up in cities across the country planning and trying to carry out ‘extreme’ actions in what they deem to be justified acts of violence in defense of their faith.

      What seems to be so very difficult for so many people to grasp is that maybe, just maybe, we should take these folk at their word rather than pretend there is some deeper socio-psychological element the rest of us caused busy at work turning otherwise normal people into individual bad apples. Assuming the latter utterly fails to address the former. And that’s why we have so many ‘individuals’ who just so happen to be muslim who just so happen to become ‘radicalized’ by that monolithic evil called The Internet.

      You know, first it was talkers who magically corrupted the youth of Athens, and then priests blamed books, and then it was corrupting political ideology from other countries, and then it was seditious folk music, and then exposing the youth to radio, rock and roll, and then TV pornography, and now the Internet. Funny how we keep blaming the medium and people still buy into that ‘explanation’ crap.

      People are motivated to act because of beliefs. The sooner we recognize the danger inherent in some beliefs, the sooner we can address them effectively. The longer we look away from this bit of unpleasant reality and pretend certain intolerant religious beliefs are acceptable, the more victims we will enable. That’s where we are with Mulcair and Trudeau: spending time sightseeing in Crazytown.”

      Comment by tildeb — November 4, 2014 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

      • I keep telling my brother when we argue about this. Okham’s razor. Do not create mysteries where none exist. These terrorist acts aren’t happening because “The West” is being mean to Muslims. It doesn’t come from somewhere else and get “adopted” by “radical” muslims. It comes directly from Islam.
        P.S. I’ve often wondered this – what exactly is a “radical’ Muslim? What does it mean to become “radicalized”? If you’re a Muslim and you’re peaceful, you’re just a regular Muslim. If you do what the Qur’an actually tells you to do (kill infidels), you’re “radicalized”.

        Comment by Ashley — November 4, 2014 @ 9:21 pm

  5. I saw the attacks on the UK media and can testify that the world was watching, I wish Canada my greatest sympathies; things like this will only make people feel stronger about the cause against religion. Deeply sad as it is, the dignity shown here is only possible to be demonstrated because of the terrorists actions, which is one way of looking at this appalling atrocity in a positive way.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — November 14, 2014 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

    • Yes, it’s a means for a public reaffirmation of central values antithetical to those used to justify the acts. It helps to unify us… but at a cost, of course.

      Comment by tildeb — November 14, 2014 @ 4:35 pm | Reply

  6. I am a hardly an admirer of Islam, and I think that killing a prisoner of war is nothing less than a war crime, let alone the killing of a journalist or an aid worker. But as an American citizen I think we should have thought twice before engaging ISIS militarily. Islamic belief holds that it is justifiable to use force to defend the faith, and they can point out that we attacked them and are continuing to kill Muslims in our ongoing military operations there.
    Before engaging in military action we need to ask two questions: 1) Do we have a workable military strategy? (In Pres. Obama’s case I think the answer is “no.”), and 2) what is the likely political outcome if we manage to prevail militarily? In the Middle East we are almost always faced with a lose-lose situation on that score.
    Our military action might have been justified on humanitarian grounds (to rescue the Yazidis). But in that case a UN Security Council resolution should have been sought to authorize it, and the cooperation of neighboring countries in the area should have been sought.

    Comment by Bob Wheeler — November 18, 2014 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

    • “Islamic belief holds that it is justifiable to use force to defend the faith, and they can point out that we attacked them and are continuing to kill Muslims in our ongoing military operations there.”
      Bob, surely you must recognize that they began killing other Muslims and beheading journalists long before anyone considered taking military action. Eye-bulging, mouth-frothing fanatical lunatics like that have been, and will continue to throw acid in the faces of women trying to get an education, blow themselves up in internet cafes along with other “infidels”, execute adulterers and homosexuals and many other hateful stupid things whether we are there or not, whether anyone has a foreign policy or not or whether we intervene militarily or not. Because we might not have a perfect military strategy worked out and we can’t foresee all the potential outcomes after we’ve intervened, is not a very good excuse to refrain from defending innocent people from fanatical lunatics. This sounds very much to me like a cowardly evasion of our responsibility to our fellow human beings. It’s for this reason that, as I mentioned to tildeb in a previous post, that I absolutely can’t stand people like Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair, who instead of saying that we should actually DO something about the situation, would rather debate and evade responsibility and perhaps send water bottles and blankets over to Syria and Iraq and hope that the whole situation will resolve itself. Cowards. The whole lot of them.

      “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

      Comment by Ashley — November 20, 2014 @ 11:10 am | Reply

      • Much of what you said is true, and it is essentially the position I took when the U.S. invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein. But what did it get us?
        I also think that at some point international law has to come into play here. A nation cannot simply attack another nation with which it is not at war — that basically amounts to aggression on our part. One could argue that military action was justifiable on humanitarian grounds, but it should be left to the UN Security Council to make that call.

        Comment by Bob Wheeler — November 20, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

  7. Nice piece here-

    I’m not qualified to speak of the politics, but the respect and patriotism shown is awesome

    I am dead sure that the anthem sung under this cloud, must have been something special.

    Comment by ColorStorm — December 7, 2014 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

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