Omar Khadr and the straining of Canadian virtue

By David T. Jones on August 7, 2008

So Omar Khadr cried. And he wanted his mommy according to much publicized, recently released interrogation transcripts.

And mommy is interviewed by the fawning media, featuring a soulful photograph lamenting that she cannot help her poor child. Adding to the carnival is the good Senator Romeo Dallaire, the hero of Rwanda, who harrumphs that Mr. Khadr has been "traumatized," and that it is "outright unfair and unacceptable."

Poor little boy; my heart strings  are tugged; my cup of mercy overfloweth.

Well, to be honest, not really.

Do you know for whom I cry? The widow of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer and her two fatherless children: Mrs. Tabitha Speer and her now 9 year old daughter and 6 year old son. On August 6, it will be six years since their husband and father was killed in Afghanistan. These are three Americans who go unmentioned in the sob stories agonizing over the "tortures" suffered by Mr. Khadr. These are three individuals whose lives are immeasurably more harmed and damaged than that of Mr Khadr.

Or what about the even less mentioned soldier, Sgt. Layne Morris, who lost an eye to the same grenade that killed Sgt. Speer. He lost his military career due to the injury--and with only one eye can do less crying than Mr Khadr.

In truth, Mr. Khadr was the luckiest teenager in the world. How many enemy combatants fatally wound a military unit's medic and live to tell the tale? How many are then accorded first world medical assistance and emergency trauma treatment at the same level as U.S. soldiers? Historically, such individuals are shot out of hand, and it is only the consequence of unprecedented humanitarian action that Mr Khadr survived to whine for his mommy.

In comparison, reflect for a moment on the number of U.S. military or contractor personnel who have survived being captured by Iraqi al-Qaeda. Answer? None. Their dead bodies, often found tortured and mutilated, are all that remain.

But to return to Mr. Khadr, his proponents contend that he was a "child soldier" because he was 15 when captured in Afghanistan. Leaving aside the fact that he was not a "soldier" since he was not in any uniform or regular military formation, he was certainly doing his level best to kill those who called upon him and his companions to surrender. He was no more a soldier than your local Toronto gangbanger gunning down rivals over drug turf is a soldier. Do Canadians doubt that he stopped trying to kill U.S. soldiers only when he was incapacitated? Do Canadians somehow conclude that they can wander the world trying to kill Americans and get a free pass to do so as long as they are under age 18?

Now we have Mr Khadr's defense lawyers attempting to argue that "friendly fire" killed Sgt. Speer. I suppose it is the norm and the form that a defense lawyer will grasp at any straw; next I expect to hear the claim that Sgt. Speer actually committed suicide and that Mr Khadr was being held against his will by his rude companions after attempting to return to continue Koranic studies in Toronto.

I suppose that is par for a society that constantly needs to feel virtuous.

But if Canadians would like to search out a bit of perspective to their normal media reading, they might access the "Honor the Fallen" site for Sgt. Speer at:

Scroll down the page a bit and you will find the tribute by his wife Tabitha. Ask yourself again, who really deserves your sympathy.


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