Terry Glavin | 13/09/05 2:21 PM ET More from Terry Glavin
“In just days, Prime Minister Harper could drag Canada into a war in Syria.” That’s the headline on a Leadnow.ca “campaigning community” robo-letter that will automatically be sent to the Prime Minister, the opposition party leaders and your very own member of Parliament, if you give the website your name and address, and click the “send message” button.
“Canadians overwhelmingly support peacekeeping, not war mongering,” the letter boasts, “and Prime Minister Harper does not have a mandate to get us into a messy war in the Middle East with unknown consequences.” As of Wednesday morning, 16,506 Canadians had clicked their way into this lala-land. It is a universe so morally depraved that atrocities on the scale of the Japanese Imperial Army’s 1937 Rape of Nanking merely served as the backdrop for a promenading and a primping about “Canada’s reputation as peacekeepers abroad.”
The letter raises a couple of difficult questions. The first is: How can it be squared with the facts of the real world? Prime Minister Stephen Harper had already made his position abundantly clear: Canada will not be dragged into U.S. President Barack Obama’s convoluted efforts to rebuild his broken street cred with a “punitive” action against the Baathist mass murderer Bashar al-Assad. Besides, Canada hasn’t even been asked to contribute so much as a bullet.
The second question is more difficult: Is it possible for the spoiled children of the Western world’s bourgeoisie to get any more repulsive than this?
The Leadnow letter had been “liked” 39,026 times on Facebook the last time I checked, and it can be situated in the same web-cloud vicinity as a gone-viral photograph of Obama in a classroom at a desk with an adorable little girl. Obama says: “We’re going to war on Syria cause they poison children.” The little girl responds: “So why don’t you bomb Monsanto, you prick?”
How clever. The frivolous complaints that organic-food enthusiasts raise against genetically-modified corn are thus substituted for the agonies of those hundreds of Syrian children in Ghouta two weeks ago, writhing in the death throes of sarin gas poisoning.
But wait. It actually can get more repulsive than this.
Across Canada last weekend, perhaps most noticeably in Toronto and Montreal, Obama’s ego tripping had roused the so-called “anti-war” movement from its lingering disinterest in Syrian affairs to stage demonstrations in collaboration with Canada’s nasty and violent little Baathist community. The T-shirts with the words “We love you” and Assad’s face on them were kind of a giveaway.
“These people are supporting one of the most fascist and criminal regimes, not only in the Middle East, but that the world has seen,” Faisal Alazem of the Syrian Canadian Council said to me during a conversation the other day. “This war has been going on for three years now, and all of a sudden these people are peace lovers? All this time, Syria is being destroyed by war. They should please stop their hypocrisy.”
There is just no way that the moral depravity Alazem so properly points out can be explained by resorting to the dodge of “war weariness,” especially not in Canada. Over 12 years in Afghanistan, Canada lost 158 soldiers. May they rest in peace, but this a low death toll for such a long armed conflict. It also happens to be almost exactly equal to the number of Syrians who are now getting killed, on average, every two days.
The Syrian death toll of 110,000 since February 2011 is roughly three times the number of Afghan civilians who have perished in that struggle since 2001. It is four times the number of Germans who perished in the February 1945 bombing of Dresden. Syrians who have been forced to flee their country now number two million, which is double the number of Irish people who emigrated to North America during the Great Famine of the late 1840s and also at least twice the number of Palestinians displaced by the first Arab-Israeli war of 1947-48.
As David Remnick put it in the New Yorker last month, the flooding of Syrian refugees into Jordan alone over the past year or so is an event comparable to the entire population of Canada suddenly uprooting itself and descending into the United States, en masse. Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, struggled with words Tuesday to describe the catastrophe. The Syrian crisis presents a risk to global peace as great as any “since the Vietnam War.”
And strangely, not a peep from the avant-garde, until now. It was all strangely quiet until Barack Obama was roused against his will to declare an intention to fire a “shot across the bow” of the Assad regime in a reluctant departure from his previous policy of deliberately prolonging Syria’s agony for want of something more intelligent to do.
This is what has become of contemporary post-socialist leftism. It counsels only stylishly cynical indifference in the face of mass terror and fascism. To paraphrase Diderot, such will affairs remain, one might suppose, until the last Leadnow slacktivist is strangled with the entrails of the last Canadian Peace Alliance apparatchik. It will remain the task of ruling-class leftism to serve as the culture’s primary bulwark around a global status quo that protects the prerogative of tinpot dictators to wage wars with chemical weapons against the masses of their own citizens, with impunity.
The Ottawa Citizen
Terry Glavin is an author and journalist whose latest book is Come From the Shadows.
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