Reason trumps blind fear and anger

There's a writer on the Globe and Mail website with the handle AP.1 There is scant information on this person. They are intensely private about who they are. And that is curious. Because the opinions they toss around on the Globe site are quite strident.

There’s a writer on the Globe and Mail website with the handle AP1.

There is scant information on this person. They are intensely private about who they are.

And that is curious.

Because the opinions they toss around on the Globe site are quite strident.

This person was one of 138 who recently commented on a well-presented Globe editorial about the astounding decision by a US military commission judge that Omar Khadr’s statements to jailors in Bagram, Afghanistan, are reliable and not a product of coercion and, hence, usable in court.

The Globe challenged the judge’s decision, which was delivered without explanation.

Now, AP1 is one of a crowd of pitiable folks commenting on news websites these days.

Any one of the members of this faceless mob could be the focus of this piece, but AP1 is notable only because they caused a 16-year-old to cry, “What? You’ve got to be kidding. Is this guy serious?”

Commenting on the edit, AP1 said, “Khadr was NOT a child soldier.”

It should be noted, as the 16-year-old did, that Khadr was 15 when he was involved in a firefight with US forces in Afghanistan in which several people on both sides died. Khadr himself was shot and peppered with shrapnel.

AP1 also asserts he was not a victim and was “likely NOT tortured either.”

In fact, the “likely” makes that a curious phrase – it’s a qualifier. The word a debater might use if they weren’t 100 per cent sure of their facts.

What we do know is that Khadr was held at the notorious Bagram prison. That one of his captors was court-martialled for beating another prisoner and that Khadr, still a very young man, faced interrogators who threatened him with gang rape.

He was also subjected to sleep-deprivation techniques, known as the “frequent flyer program” in an effort to make him less resistant to interrogation.

In 2008, Canadian Federal Court Judge Richard Mosely said the US military’s treatment of Khadr violated international laws against torture, including human rights laws and the Geneva Conventions.

AP1 may assert Khadr “likely” wasn’t tortured, but most people would conclude he “likely” was.

And he has been held for eight years without trial. A large chunk of it without any legal champion at all.

And how does that change things for AP1?

Well, that’s the problem. It “likely” doesn’t.

Because AP1 is so filled with venom he can’t think straight.

AP1 is glad the US is dealing with, “Junior Jihad, the Muslim man terrorist ape.

“A Muslim terrorist on trial for murder. Not a choir boy, not a saint, and NOT a Canadian either.”

Here, AP1 is wrong again – distorting facts to suit their twisted worldview.

In fact, Khadr is, without question, a Canadian citizen, which further complicates matters. Especially when it comes to the fact Ottawa has steadfastly refused to repatriate Khadr. All other western nations have reclaimed their citizens jailed in Guantanamo.

Except Canada.

And, Canada knowingly turned captives over to governments willing to torture prisoners.

And so, it is now well known around the world that Canada’s national government is also neither a choir boy nor a saint.

And that poses a problem for our soldiers who are trying to foster a civil society in states in the grip of anarchy.

The only thing separating civil society from the near anarchy of states like Pakistan or Afghanistan is the rule of law.

And Ottawa has demonstrated it is willing to ignore that.

When a nation surrenders its moral authority, its credibility is shot.

And that is exactly what Canada has done.

“More broadly, successful counterterrorism depends in part on convincing the world that there is no moral equivalency between the terrorists and the government they oppose,” said Daniel L. Byman in testimony before the US Senate foreign relations committee in July 2007.

Byman is director of Georgetown’s Security Studies Program in Washington, DC.

“When the United States muddies these waters, this distinction begins to blur. This is particularly problematic for US attempts to woo fence-sitters in the Muslim world – the very hearts and minds that the United States most needs.”

The same, of course, holds true for Canada.

“Canada’s stance on the Khadr case unquestionably violates the spirit of the UN protocol on child soldiers and makes a mockery of our championing this and similar human rights causes,” wrote Romeo Dallaire in the National Post a few years ago.

“While the bravery and professionalism of our soldiers in Afghanistan have indeed enhanced our standing as an emerging middle power, the government’s handling of other files clearly detracts from our credibility.”

People like AP1 are fearful, full of blind hatred and seem to lack reason.

They prosecute without facts. Indeed, without a proper trial.

And, in so doing, diminish a legal system that protects us all.

And, most frightening, in doing so they seem to resemble our current federal government.

But, as the 16-year-old was told, society is somewhat protected by freedom of expression.

It’s better to have such people talking anonymously from the shadows than spewing their venom far from view.

When such people are allowed a voice, rational people like him can stand up, challenge the fearmongering and stupidity and offer an alternative.

The alternative should have a measure of reason, compassion, forgiveness and, ultimately, the rule of law.

That is, the principles most Canadians hold dear.

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