Andrew Coyne, writing in the National Post, is right on target when he says “It began just minutes after the first reports surfaced online. Though the killings had taken place at a Quebec City mosque, though the victims had all been Muslim, nevertheless it was asserted, with all the authority that anonymity confers, that the killers were Muslim. “Police reports” were disseminated claiming they were two Syrian refugees, just admitted the previous week. Fake news sites supplied fake names. The failure of the English-language news networks to go live with the story was attributed, not to a lack of resources or competence, but to their involvement in a cover-up … [and] … This is how we do things now. This is the ritual we have learned, after every such outrage: not to mourn the dead or to draw, after due consideration of the facts, the appropriate lessons, but to lay the blame, in advance of the facts being known — as if it were a kind of race, in which the first to find fault wins.“
I saw it, too, on web sites I visited and through the eyes of others, on Facebook and on Twitter, as people I respect began to block or otherwise disengage from others for spreading “fake news.”
“In fact,” Mr Coyne goes on to explain, “we do not know what the suspect’s motive was, even now. We have rather more basis on which to draw intelligent inferences, but certainty, if ever it is given to us, must await his trial. We have even less grounds to state who or what planted that motive there, though again that has not stopped people from trying. At any rate, it is a fool’s errand. We do not need an atrocity to tell us that something has come unstuck in society of late.“
He’s got it: “something has come unstuck in society of late,” and it is “a more generalized wave of intolerance” … and, while “it is still no more than a small minority taking part … it is more than it was.” As I have mentioned before, we are afraid of the “others,” and usually it is a deep but baseless fear of that which is different. What has changed is that it is now acceptable, even popular to take counsel of our fears ~ which is never a good idea, and to propagate our mindless, baseless fears and encourage other to take counsel of them, too.
I find the fear equally distributed amongst so-called conservatives on the hate-filled religious right and social justice warrior type progressives on the left. Both side ignore the real problems and focus on impossible “solutions.” Both groups have their heads buried in the sand, or worse, and advocate that we all should shoot ourselves in the foot. Something has, indeed, come unstuck; he’s exactly right.