Liberty demands responsibility Time to stop excusing the enemies within.

By Beryl Wajsman on October 30, 2014

"Liberty demands responsibility. That's why so many dread it." George Bernard Shaw wrote those words at a time when the rising tide of fascism was a clear menace, yet so many in western nations felt compelled to excuse and appease. It was they - free citizens - who were afraid of the responsibility that comes with freedom. 

I share these words today, because if there is one living testament that can be made to the ultimate sacrifices of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent  and Corporal Nathan Cirillo it is that we - their fellow Canadians whom they served and protected - must understand that it is our responsibility to fight back in civil society against the purveyors and perpetrators of this era's theocratic fascism. 

Too many today, often for nothing more than mercantile expediency, refuse to recognize - or offer excuses for - our enemies within. They shut their eyes to the enablers. Just to get along or go along or out of outright cowardice,  many deny and downplay the dangers not only of the proliferation of "lone wolves" but even of groups that have been labelled terrorist by our governments and by our courts yet still operate - under the cloak of social or educational activities - in our  communities. Just the day before WO Vincent's killing I was told of someone who asked, "What's the threat from these groups in our backyard?" 

Such shameful quiescence does not meet the duty of free citizens. This does no honour to the memory of the dead. All citizens must be vigilant and engaged, so that, in Winston Churchill's words, "History does not write its most cruel epitaph...'Too late!' "

Lest any readers think that I am suggesting more laws or Charter restrictions I am not. We cannot mirror what we seek to destroy. If we do, then the enemies of liberty win. Those of you who follow my writings, will understand that what I am proposing is more individual engagement and vigilance. Each of us has a responsibility to be in the face of institutions and individuals who act as apologists for this era's theocratic "ism." We must make it clear that we are no longer willing to permit, nor acquiesce in, a public discourse that legitimizes radical extremism by endless discussion of "root causes. " 

The root causes are clear enough. Hatred of pluralism and a burning lust to place the free world in medieval straightjackets. I am not arguing for more law but for more advocacy by all of us. An advocacy that calls for a renunciation of ties to extremists and extremism and an end to the countless discussions that seek to portray acts of barbarians as nothing more than psychological deviancy. We must have vigorous opposition - as engaged advocates - to stem that part of our national conversation that puts everything in morally relavist terms. 

There are those of good will who will argue that the killers of Vincent and Cirillo were driven as much by mental problems as  by racial or religious intent. One friend wrote to me stating, "That radical Islam in all of its violent forms is reprehensible , but its tenets should not be mistaken for the prime motivation or source of the tragic actions. They served more as a convenient means of personal legitimization for what were already violent and clearly irrational tendencies." 

My answer would be that we must create a national will that makes the idea of turning to radical Islamism as noxious in our Canadian character as many of the lesser angels of man's nature already are. That we make of radical Islamism something so abhorrent to our national character, that it can never be validated again through any "personal legitimization " because it will be seen reflexively to be beyond the pale. There is an urgency to doing this for as another friend of mine wrote, "Freedom is tributary to its own perspective." We might add that freedom is also tributary to its own existence.

Several senior respected Imams in Canada last week urged Mosques and Muslim religious leaders to be cautious in accepting converts. Their words should be heeded. But more is required. Neither of the killers converted alone. Neither became radicalized alone. Somewhere there were enablers. And it is those who preach extremism in our communities that we as individual citizens must stand up to and challenge. As much as we need help from inside normative Muslim communities in identifying radicals, so too do modern and moderate Muslim lay and religious leaders need to see that they can ally themselves with a courageous and vigilant non-Muslim citizenry. That they are not alone.

And finally to those who spoke last week of Canada "losing its innocence" I would suggest a proper reading of history. A nation that had a greater percentage of its population than America in uniform in both World Wars is not an innocent. We have always been a nation involved in all mankind's yearnings for redemptive change, and we are at our best when we do so. Let us not forget that just seven years ago authorities  foiled the plot of 17 Islamist conspirators in Toronto who had  husbanded three times the amount of ammonium nitrate that was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and planned beheadings of Canadian leaders.

We had the usual amount of hand-wringing over "root causes" of the planned murder and mayhem that sounded like nothing more than tolerance of the intolerble, especially from then Toronto Mayor David Miller. It was a time when there was so much pointless bleating, that reasonable people could be forgiven for thinking that Canadians had become a people manifesting a self-doubt driven by little more than a transparent jealousy of others aelf-belief.

It was Prime Minister Harper who cleared the air then, and got it right. "This attack," he said,  "was not planned to combat anything we do wrong. It was planned precisely because of what we attempt to do right. Live free." As we prepare to marshal a new national resolve and construct a bolder national conversation, we would do well to reflect on his words today. For a nation - like a person - that does not stand for something, will in the final analysis fall for anything. It's time to stop excusing the enemies within.


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