Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that we, Canadians, are “shocked” by the events in Nice.
I’m sad to say that’s not true. Unfortunately, as Rex Murphy says in the National Post, “the world is becoming immunized to these horrors.” Of course he quotes Yeats … no one else will do at this moment:
“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.”
What else could we say? Who else could have said it with greater passion and economy?
“Nowadays,” Rex Murphy says, “the terror is amorphous, springing not from the deadly quarrels of antagonist nations, but out of some nebulous cauldron of fundamentalist Islam. A contempt for Western modernism, violent primitivism, Messianism, the deadly lure of anarchy itself and sheer blood lust — these are the ideas that are responsible for those children who lie crippled and dead on the streets and sidewalks of Nice.” He goes on to explain that there are always “lone wolves,” although he does as “how many lone wolves must we count before we decide that they are a wolf pack?” But, he reminds us, that “these days, one event runs so quickly into another that it no longer makes us recoil in horror. Indeed, most of us barely have time to process the moral dimensions of the latest hideous attack before the next one consumes the headlines.“
We may not know how to stop this prolonged drumroll of terror, but there is a way to isolate it … to reduce the risks to us.
No, I do not advocate expelling Muslims or even preventing Muslim immigration … although much, much more thorough screening might be in order for immigrants from most countries.
What we need to do is to propagate, in our classrooms, in the media, our own narrative which explains to all Canadians what is (and what is not) acceptable conduct in our civil society. We need to affirm that our enlightened, secular, Anglo-Saxon, liberal democratic values are the “gold standard” for all Canadians and all residents of Canada regardless of race, colour or creed. We have to make it clear that all those who seek safety in Canada, who want to make new lives or or just seek temporary refuge, must adapt to our norms and mores; they must leave old customs and old loyalties and old hatreds behind … or they must leave.
We must understand, ourselves, what tolerance really means. We “tolerate” ideas and, sometimes, even actions, that we know are not really “good enough” but which do not cross too many bounds of unacceptability. We “tolerate” these ideas until newcomers can find ways to adapt their old ideas to the new reality of their lives in Canada, as unhyphenated Canadians.
It means we have to start by changing ourselves. We need to become people who are, once again, shocked by events like Nice and who are committed to preventing such atrocities from happening here. The “front lines” will have to be our classrooms, beginning with kindergarten, our soldiers will have to the be teachers in those classrooms. Nothing less than a reaffirmation of what it means to be Canadian will do.