Sunday, March 30, 2008
Terrorism: Canadian Edition!!!
Canada's culture is most often defined by its capacity to be distinctly un-American. For instance, we put Canadian flags on our backpacks to inform the World of our "neighbour to the north" (note the u) status. In fact, we publicly fund horrible commercials to inform us of just how different we really are.
But, honestly, when you put Hockey, bad French, cold winters, sweet Native reserves, the Tragically Hip and the CBC aside, Canada is simply America. "No!" yells a tuque-wearing Canuck over the roar of his Canadian Tire snow blower. We're totally different! Our values are different! We think differently!
It is this awkward, unrelenting pursuit of highlighting uniqueness (or lack thereof) leaving us prone to cultural masochism. We end up hurting ourselves with extraneous efforts to show off a difference that is never there. It's a "look at me" attitude taken too far - essentially, we're the Jamie Lynne Spears of the G8.
Take, for example, the countless "Canadian editions" of popular television shows. Included in this list are Canada's Next Top Model, Canadian Idol, and Deal or No Deal Canada. Sure, it's cute when Sweden and Japan try, but there's something undeniably amiss when Canada attempts to emulate American pop culture. It's as if William Hung were to think he's ACTUALLY on par with Ricky.
The worst example of such Canadian cultural posturing (with self-deprecating results) is the current "Toronto 18" terrorism trial.
Allegedly, in 2005 near Gravenhurst, Ontario 18 young Muslims took part in a terrorist 'training camp.' There they "wore hooded camouflage and participated in various military-style exercises including marching, obstacle course training and firearms training." During down time they "viewed videos of an extremist and violent nature." Residents of the neighbouring community have been skeptical of these claims, however, saying the town is so tight-knit they would have noticed 18 camouflaged men (let alone visible minorities) doing calisthenics. They would have stuck out like a leprechaun in the ghetto.
Transcripts of the car rides back from the camp, near a Native reserve, reveal plots to overthrow the "new Rome," behead politicians and then 'kill everybody.' Sounding more like Question Period than jihadist, one of the plotters - in referring to the former Prime Minister - said they should go to Ottawa and kill "Paul um what's his name – Paul loser" (Harper was actually in power at the time).
But other than the big talk, what actually makes this case any more than a bunch of guys who really need to get out of Brampton on the weekends, a meagre combination of Brownies and Scouts (too much?)? Honestly, it sounds more like a bout of sexual frustration fueled by childhoods chalk full of Bollywood films, obligatory Diwali gatherings and Kraft Dinner envy. It's a tough childhood when your white friends have t.v. dinners to your Lamb Dhansak.
So now, armed with rap music, unassuming parents and the Koran apparently they were ready to take on the world. Or not.
It was revealed by an RCMP informant's report that "this hapless F-Troop, who ventured into the deathly cold of winter without a proper tent ... was reduced to sleeping in the vehicles at night to prevent freezing to death." The 18 young men would go "trooping off to the Tim Hortons multiple times a day for coffee and use of the bathroom."
In concluding, these guys were obviously hacks, not anything close to 'terrorists.' They talked big, but were wholly incapable of orchestrating plans. Canada can perpetuate a false front in the name of global security, but ultimately it won't hold up in the courts.
This was politicking when the case first emerged, and it still is. Perhaps it would be better for Canada to be self-effacing, realizing that fake publicity is worse than none at all (see: Canada's Next Great Prime Minister). Simply painful.