Now what do we do?

This has been a very, very disturbing day.

An attack – including a decapitation – in France.   Tourists slaughtered in Tunisia.  Shia Muslims killed by a suicide bomber at their mosque.  After prayers.  This evokes the senselessness of the massacre last week in Charleston, South Carolina.

I’ve always advocated keeping things in perspective and this blog has tried to support that view.

But I have to admit that it is hard to maintain such a position in the wake of the barbarity and evil that occurred today.

Shortly after I retired, I traveled through eastern Europe and ended up in Poland, whence my paternal grandfather came to Canada a century ago.   While there, my wife and I, together with our friends, visited Oswiecim – better known in the West as Auschwitz.

If you have been there you know what that place does to you.  The utter horror and inhumanity are hard to process.  I came away deeply distressed at what over a million people suffered just because of who they were (Jewish, Roma, mentally disabled…).

And yet we have to move on.  We remember and we mourn – and we move on.  And we have, albeit with some backsliding.

I think that is the only useful response to the events of today.  There is no benefit to ranting and raving.  There are no targets to bomb.  There are no networks to disrupt.  There is only a depraved – yet comprehensible – ideology that has to be addressed.

Or not.

What we here in Canada – and in other parts of the world – have achieved – warts and all – is so vastly superior to what the extremists have to offer that this should be an uneven fight.  The terrorists have nothing to offer – so why is their message winning?  Because – for some reason – we haven’t joined the game yet.  At least not in a meaningful way.

We should be shouting our message from the rooftops!  Why do so many people want to come and live here?  Because it sucks?  I don’t think so.

All of us here in this country have amazing stories to tell about what it means to be Canadian.  It is no coincidence that we are consistently ranked in the top echelons of places to live.

Is it perfect?  By no means. There is room for improvement.   But it is pretty damn good!

And while we tell our tales, let’s stop asking certain groups to condemn or apologise for the actions of a tiny, tiny minority.  Al Qaeda types (or IS or Boko Haram or Al Shabaab or…) are no more representative of Islam than abortion clinic bombers are representative of Christianity or Baruch Goldstein was of Judaism or Talwinder Singh Parmar was of Sikhism.  They may see themselves as the “true” representatives, but just because you think something doesn’t make it real.

So, we know what we have to do.  We have our brand and we know it works. Let’s market it!

There, I have thrown down the gauntlet.  Who’s gonna pick it up?

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.

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