A Canadian (i.e. inoffensive) way to talk about terrorism

We Canadians are a deferential bunch. Our national phrase is ‘sorry’ (NB if you want to find a Canadian in a crowd quickly just step on everyone’s toes. The first person to say ‘sorry’ to you is the Canadian). We really try not to offend anyone.

This deep-seated desire to be inoffensive even extends to terrorism. Canada’s Ministry of Public Safety puts out an annual terrorist threat report to inform the population. The 2018 version has already been amended twice because some Canadians complained that the wording ‘impugned’ certain ethnic groups. Hence, instead of ‘Sikh extremism’ we now have
“some individuals in Canada continue to support violent means to establish an independent state within India”. Instead of ‘Sunni Islamist’ extremism we have “individuals or groups who are inspired by violent ideologies and terrorist groups such as Daesh or al-Qaida (AQ) .” In this way no single Canadian Sikh or Muslim is made to feel bad about the tiny number of people who come from their communities and who happen to be terrorists.

But we can do better Canada!! The report is still rife with references that can be seen as offensive if you squint really hard. So, in the spirit of Canadianness I’d like to suggest the following revisions to the report as well as to the ‘Currently Listed Terrorist Entities‘. I hope you find it educational. If not, I am sorry.

From the annual report:

  • Hizballah gets a lot of mention. The government has at least taken out ‘Shia extremism’ when referring to the group, but ‘Hiz’ remains. This is offensive to men. May I suggest ‘Theirballah”?;
  • ‘Right-wing extremism’?? Tsk, tsk. Very laterally biased. Change immediately to ‘opposite of left’ and get rid of ‘wing’ to avoid hurting the feelings of Canadian birds;
  • Did I really read ‘white nationalism’? As a ‘white’ male that gets my goat! (sorry! Switch that last bit to ‘can-eating ruminant’). May I suggest “Combination of all colours people who love Canada”?;
  • Male supremacy? I am beginning to feel peeved. Alternative: ‘Testosterone-laden people striving to be the best’;
  • Misogyny? Better “Msogyny”. I thought we won the Mrs/Miss/Ms battle decades ago!

From the listed terrorist groups:

  • I cannot help but notice a lot of groups start with ‘Al’. To all the Alfreds, Aloysius’, Alberts and others out there who shorten their names I want to apologise on behalf of the government of Canada. From now on ‘Al Qaeda’ will be known simply as ‘Qaeda’;
  • ‘Armed Islamic Group’? Nope – heretofore ‘bunch of guys who may or may not belong to the world’s second largest Abrahamic faith’. Also drop ‘armed’ so as not to offend amputees;
  • ‘Indian Mujahideen’? Nuh-uh. As of today ‘Sub-continent folks who think they are holy warriors’;
  • Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA)? I am pretty sure this upsets loads of Basque people but as I speak not a word of Basque I have nothing to offer. Better to just drop the group in its entirety;
  • There are still five groups that start with ‘Islamic’. Fix. Now;
  • Kahane Chai – pisses off tea drinkers (suggestion ‘Kahane Non-specific Hot Beverage’);
  • Four groups have the word ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian’ in them. Remove these words and replace with ‘Poor people who will never get a homeland as long as Binyamin Netanyahu is still Israeli Prime Minister’;
  • Two groups start with ‘Popular’; offensive to people like me who struggled to get a date to the high school prom. Change to ‘Those who were luckier than me in grade 12’; and
  • Although the Irish Republican Army is NOT listed in Canada it may one day (given the creation of the ‘New IRA’) so let’s nail this down right away: ‘Island off the west coast of England non-monarchical folks with guns’.

There! That should just about do it. Now it is a REAL Canadian list. No one can ever say they are put out by a Canadian government. This is a document I can stand behind! This document is as non-offensive as it can possibly be! This document makes me proud to say I AM CANADIAN!

Oops, sorry for the all-caps!

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

Leave a Reply