August 31, 2010

Scumbags, redux

Letter writer Masud Sheikh, in the Globe today:

Our government has behaved as if there are different classes of citizens; Rick Hillier made his famous “scumbag” comments. Our mental models make us see such actions as being within the bounds of morally acceptable behaviour. If we are interested in a peaceful future, humanism will need to transcend other aspects of our identities... That is easier said than done, and those in leadership positions have to lead by example.

Recap: the occasion of Gen (retd.) Hillier's comments was the London subway bombings in July 2005. He was asked whether Canadian involvement in Afghanistan could lead to similar attacks in Canada.

"These [people behind the London attacks, and presumably other terrorist attacks in the West] are detestable murderers and scumbags. I'll tell you that right up front... It doesn't matter whether we are in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world. They want to break our society... They detest our freedoms. They detest our society. They detest our liberties."

Mr. Sheikh's argument is apparently that criticism of the terrorist murderers who had just killed 56 Londoners was "morally unacceptable," and that only when we can regard them as the same "class of citizen" as ourselves, will we have a peaceful future. Sounds like the peace of the grave to me, frankly. But hey: as the General pointed out at the time, it's a free country.

Posted by BruceR at 09:15 AM