The rage returns

It happened this morning. After weeks of relative optimism, I found myself trembling with rage at work again. After being at war with “terror” for almost four years, it seemed a few weeks ago like we had advanced somewhat in our international discourse on the matter. Sure, there were those who clung to the belief that Georgie’s war on the evil doers was directly responsible for elections in Lebanon and the like, but on the whole, rational debate was up and fear-based rhetoric was down. We were even talking about famine and AIDS in Africa, of all things.

Then London was bombed. And it all went to shit.

We’re backsliding at an alarming rate. I’d like to call attention to a few specific pieces that painfully illustrate this fact. First, a Peter Worthington column. When last I checked, it hadn’t been uploaded to the Sun’s website yet, but I’ll check later in the day and post a link if I can find it. UPDATE: It’s right here now. To give you an idea of the tone, it’s called “This is war – so pick sides.” He starts out by criticizing the CBC (and by extension, BBC, Reuters and many other respected outlets) for not using the word “terrorist” in their coverage:

“It is difficult to imagine a more foolish and silly dictum — as if ‘taking sides’ is the greatest sin in journalism. It’s like right and wrong. Some things are just plain wrong — and suicide bombers blowing up buses and subway trains is one of them.”

Well, thank goodness that we have Worthington to serve as humanity’s arbiter of right and wrong. He follows that gem of a paragraph with this bizarre statement:

“In Britain, police now shoot suspects. Good.”

Then returns to his anti-CBC diatribe, followed by criticisms of Canada’s inability to deport the entire Khadr family and Hassan Almrei.

Congratulations Mr. Worthington, for reviving the intolerant “us vs. them” mentality that I naively thought we’d moved beyond. For a much more rational take on the CBC terminology edict, check out Norman Spector’s column today.

You said pieces, as in plural
Yes I did. Worthington’s rant is the best example, but for those with subscriber access to the National Post, have a look at George Jonas’ column today, he provides context for the war vs. evil by explaining that this war on “terror” is simply the latest in the “clash of civilizations” that dates back 1,400 years. Jonas also pops up in the Citizen, with an anti-CBC offering that makes me wonder if he and Worthington compared notes. That one’s not online at all, but it’s on the editorial page of the hard copy if you have access.

Shoot to Kill!
When I fled Ottawa for the serenity of a weekend in the woods, British police had just killed someone in the London tube. At the time, it was widely reported that the killing was – in the words of London police commissioner Ian Blair – “directly linked to the ongoing and expanding anti-terrorist operation.” I snidely remarked to my incredibly patient girlfriend that it was good to see that the bombings hadn’t changed life in London, just like Tony Blair said, but I had no idea the extent of the insanity of the story. I thought it was bad enough that they killed an unarmed suspect in a subway station, but I assumed they at least had reason to believe he was “directly linked to the ongoing and expanding anti-terrorist operation.”

It turns out that “link” was that he was brown. And he had the nerve to wear a coat on a warm day. That is enough to justify jumping on him, pinning him to the ground (according to some reports, anyway), then firing five shots into his head, point blank.

I was encouraged to see that this story got a lot of play in our papers. As Anne McLellan said, we need a national debate on the terrorist threat, and people have to be aware that granting extraordinary powers can have tragic, lethal and unacceptable consequences. I fear, however, that some outlets (Ahem, Citizen) may be missing the point, especially when I read the following headline and subhead on A1:

Elite officers had no choice: They must shoot to kill
Instant death is the only way to stop a suicide bomber

Please note that the absence of quotation marks or attribution. It doesn’t say “Elite officers had no choice: Police” or “Elite officers ‘had no choice.'” It is presented as fact. And in case you may think it was simply an oversight, check out this lead:

LONDON – The most elite members of London’s finest call it “the shot of excellence.”

It’s a single gunshot through the mouth that snaps the spinal cord and instantly kills a suspected suicide bomber. And it is the essence of Scotland Yard’s controversial shoot-to-kill policy, known as Operation Kratos, so-named for the Greek god of strength.

It’s as though Mike Blanchfield wishes he could be the one pulling the trigger in the name of good vs. evil. Read the article in its entirety here.

Parting shots
Okay, there was some more stuff I wanted to talk about today, but this is running long already, so I’ll just toss up some links and save some analysis for another day.

First, the Star picked up an opinion piece by Aaron Mate, a journalist who actually goes to Haiti to report on it. Novel idea. It does a good job of highlighting how dismal Canada’s performance has been in the country since we backed the overthrow of a democractically-elected president. Read it here.

Second, I didn’t get to see the CBC documentary on the U.S. right-wing media when it aired, but I was just told I could find it online. From what I hear, it’s like Outfoxed, but without the hypocritical use of gimmicky presentation that frustrated me so. I intend to curl up on the couch and watch it (yay iBook portability) later today, you should too. It’s here.

Okay, that’s enough for now, I have to go seethe.

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