Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A collage of photos of the victims of the 2017-01-29 Québec mosque shooting: Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzedine Soufiane, and Aboubaker Thabti.]

The six victims of the Québec mosque shooting. From left-right, top-bottom: Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzedine Soufiane, and Aboubaker Thabti.

  • [] The ‘Hail Mary’ pass that could restore Kathleen Wynne and her government

    Steve Paikin argues that ending the separate school system in Ontario could save Kathleen Wynne politically. Seems a bit of a stretch, and it would be a hell of a turnaround after Wynne categorically refused to do this earlier in her tenure, but if she did do it, it would sure as hell make me take a second look at the Ontario Liberals in .

    h/t Derek Gray

  • [] Canada: Mosque Attack Provokes Fear and Anxiety

    What really caught my eye in this article was the data about just how widespread right-wing hatred is here in Canada. There were around 100 right-wing hate groups across Canada in 2016, mostly in Québec. Unofficial estimates suggest that number has grown since.

  • [] Reject Information Obtained Through Torture Once And For All

    Several human rights organizations have written an open letter to Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale, asking him change Canada’s policy on torture. The policy, set up on 2011 under the Harper government, has already been responsible for “accidental” torturing of at least four Canadians, without a single “success” story.

  • [] Ours Can Be The Political Generation That Silences Intolerance

    Politicians have been understandably lining up to write thoughtful opinion pieces on the Québec mosque shooting, condemning the violence and ruminating on how to move forward. But I think Conservative MP Erin O’Toole’s piece might be the best of the bunch.

  • [] Climate Scientists Turn To Canadian Organizations To Save Vulnerable Data From Trump

    , I reported the news that the Internet Archive was moving to Canada, and predictably faced sneers from know-nothings who thought the move was just meaningless hype. Well, now American scientists are rushing to make use of the newly-secure Internet Archive to preserve at-risk datasets from destruction by the Trump administration. They’re actually organizing events to get volunteers to help archive the most endangered data.

  • [] Trudeau breaks his promise to implement electoral reform

    Canadians are used to being disappointed by their politicians, but this has to be one of the most craven, self-serving things done by a government in the modern era. Canadian SHAFTneeds electoral reform, and we cannot allow ourselves to be cheated out of it, not now when we’re closer than we’ve been in decades.

  • [] Montreal Mosque Vandalized On Day Of Quebec Victims’ Funeral

    Anyone still want to tell me that we don’t have a serious islamophobia problem in Canada?

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14 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. I would be hard pressed to vote for the Cons but Michael Chong would get more of a look from me the O’Toole.
    As for the Quebec mosque massacre,
    I’d be very interested in people’s opinions on the term terrorism being applied to this event. Words have meaning and politicians have used terrorism as cover for the implementation of “security” laws that have deeply undercut our privacy and civil rights. Was this an act of terrorism and why?

    • Chong is my favourite of the leadership candidates, too, and he had a decent response as well. Reason I preferred O’Toole’s over Chong’s is that Chong really made it about Leitch… which is fair, but also seemed a bit self-serving. I found O’Toole’s response to be more universal.

      As for “terrorism”, I’ve always personally defined it as an act of violence, destruction, disruption, or vandalism intended to elicit fear in a population. Fear may be the immediate goal, but the longer-term goal could be anything from wanting to cow the population into submission, to wanting to provoke them into violent retaliation; it’s not the long-term strategic goal that matters, it’s the immediate tactical goal of the act that determines whether it’s terrorism.

      A terrorist attack can be differentiated from a random attack by considering whether the goal was to just to kill, or to create a climate of fear – for example, the average school shooting is not terrorism, because the average school shooters’ aim is either just to kill a lot of people or make themselves (in)famous… it’s not to create a general climate of fear in schools. And a terrorist attack is differentiated from a *military* or guerrilla attack by looking at whether the point of the attack was to damage an enemy’s military effectiveness – for example, the bombing of the USS Cole was *not* a terrorist attack, it was an act of war… it just happened to be carried out by a group normally associated with terrorism. And of course, protest acts – even acts of violent protest (which are totally unacceptable, of course) – are not terrorist acts because their goal is not to create fear, but rather to make an issue impossible to ignore in some way.

      By that definition, the mosque attack *was* a terrorist attack, if we make some rather obvious assumptions about the shooter’s motive. It seems unlikely that his intention was *just* to kill a few Muslims in that particular mosque. And there is no sane way you could argue that his action was intended merely raise awareness or hamper any enemy’s military effectiveness. No, this was pretty obviously an attack to strike fear into Muslims – *all* Muslims, not just the ones he actually shot at. In fact, the ultimate goal might even have been to goad Muslims into a violent retaliation. Knowing his probably political leanings, this is even more likely.

      But all that being said, I don’t agree that the existence of terrorism justifies “security” measures that undermine liberty, privacy, and rights. I do think this is terrorism; that doesn’t mean I think our law enforcement should be given carte blanche because of it.

      • OK when is a mass murder not an act of terrorism? Was Sandy Hook, the violent murders at a US grade school that provoked fear in the population, not an act of terrorism? What separates or distinguishes a terrorist act from mental disorder? Was Lepine’s attack at L’Ecole Polytechnique not a terrorist attack? I am having trouble seeing the mosque as a terrorist attack. We give too much power to murderers who carry out these sensational crimes. We give too much oxygen to opportunist factions to claim ownership. We give too much authority to opportunist governments to justify a militarization of the police and security forces to keep us safe by making such a broad definition.

        • The definition is “an act of violence, destruction, disruption, or vandalism *intended* to elicit fear in a population”. It’s not a question of whether an act *causes* fear – any criminal act causes some level of fear; even a burglary causes neighbours to be fearful. It’s whether the *purpose* of the act is to cause fear, and specifically to cause fear in a *population* – not just the specific targets.

          I can’t comment much on Sandy Hook because I don’t know what the actual motive for that was; I’m just not read up on the shooter. So in exchange I’ll substitute Columbine, which I do know a lot about. The motive in the Columbine shootings was, frankly, just to kill a lot of people for the thrill of it. The killers either wanted to be (in)famous or were just angry and lashing out in frustration and desperation (depending on which one you’re talking about). While their shooting did create a lot of fear, that was not the motive – not for either of the shooters. So Columbine, while a massacre and a tragedy, was not terrorism.

          (As for Sandy Hook, what little I know about the shooter, and I admit this is vague, is that he suffered from some kind of brain disorder – and possibly schizophrenia. As far as I know, his shooting spree may not have had any coherent motive. If that’s true, then Sandy Hook was not terrorism either.)

          The École Polytechnique shooting *was* a terrorist attack, because Marc Lépine’s motive was specifically to terrorize “feminists”. He was quite clear about that in his words (at the scene), in his actions, and in his writings.

          As for what distinguishes a terrorist attack from mental disorder, I don’t think that’s a sensible question. Why must there be a separation? A terrorist can be mentally disturbed – why is that such a strange idea? Indeed, organized elements might even specifically coax a mentally disturbed individual into carrying out an attack for them. A terrorist attack could be carried out by a mentally disturbed or psychologically ill person, or a mentally disturbed or psychologically ill person could carry out a non-terrorism massacre. There’s no either-or here.

          There is a point in identifying terrorism this way: it separates “random acts of violence” from acts of violence as part of a campaign. Sandy Hook was not (so far as I know) part of a campaign of violence against elementary school kids. Columbine did not happen because of a general antipathy toward high school kids, or even just “popular” kids. But École Polytechnique *did* happen because of widespread rhetoric against feminism that Lépine internalized, regurgitated, and acted on. And the mosque shooting happened because of widespread islamophobic or anti-immigrant rhetoric (presumably; certainly that seems to be the rhetoric Bissonnette was feeding on, and regurgitating). By separating the “random acts of violence” from acts of terrorism, we can speak more intelligently about what can be done to prevent such tragedies from happening again, because the answer is very different in either case. In the case of “random acts of violence”, the answer is more and better psychological health assessment – ideally as part of our free health care system. But that won’t do squat against actual terrorism. For terrorism, the answer is better understanding of when and what type of ideologies spawn violent extremists, what type of rhetoric either turns an ideology dangerous *or* what kind of rhetoric *emerges* as an ideology turns dangerous, and how to identify when people interested in that ideology are making the leap from passionate to deadly. Using the label “terrorism” not about measuring our emotional response to a massacre (“if it’s *really* bad, then it’s terrorism!”); it’s about classifying it in a way that allows us to understand and, hopefully, prevent repeats.

          It sounds like you’re concerned about labelling this incident as terrorism because of the tendency of governments to react badly to terrorist incidents. I would say that is like being concerned about abused spouses burning meals because of the tendency of their abusers to beat them for it; you’re looking for the problem in the wrong place.

          It’s certainly possible that the government will overreact or do something stupid like taking away liberties or such because of this incident. But that doesn’t mean the way to prevent that is to deny that it’s terrorism. If our assumptions about Bissonnette’s motive are correct, then it would be stupid to turn our backs on those conclusions simply because the government might get idiotic about it. We need to the face the facts of whether Bissonnette did what he did as part of a campaign against Muslims or immigrants, and if so, find out how much of his inspiration came from the public expression of those ideologies. We need to do this because there may be more Alexandre Bissonnettes out there, being wound up into a killing frenzy by certain messages even as we speak. If we dismiss this shooting as just “the act of a madman”, ignoring the cause that actually motivated it, we may be turning a blind eye to the next massacre. That is not hypothetical. There are many people criticizing law enforcement for doing just that: turning a blind eye to violent right-wing extremism – playing each incident off as “an act of a madman” while ignoring the common ideologies and rhetoric that spawned *multiple* violent extremists.

          The “terrorism” label is just too useful to throw away over concerns that some people or groups might actually bask in the label. Any group that would is already way past the moral event horizon anyway, so that’s hardly a concern worth mentioning. And as for individuals, if all they want is fame then they’re not terrorists – so I don’t see the problem. If they *really* want to be labelled terrorists, then they’ll have to find a cause to murder for… which is just more work for them, and I’m not really seeing an argument against making murderers have to do more work before they can murder. If someone actually *is* a terrorist, then I don’t really give a flying fuck if they get a tickle out of hearing themselves described thus; what’s important is that the label helps us understand their motives and hopefully prevent future incidents.

          Dealing with the government’s attempts to restrict liberties is an entirely separate problem. *Entirely* separate, because it doesn’t really matter if the justification being used is terrorism or “cost-cutting measures”. *Any* time they try to take away rights, freedoms, or privacy, we should be standing up against it.

          • OK but your argument (and dismissal of my desire to find clarity in a definition of terrorism with that clumsy and sensational abused spouse analogy) rests wholly on your definition of terrorism.

            There are other ones however:
            1) The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”

            From Wikipedia
            2) There is no universal agreement on the definition of terrorism.[1][2] Various legal systems and government agencies use different definitions. Moreover, governments have been reluctant to formulate an agreed upon and legally binding definition. These difficulties arise from the fact that the term is politically and emotionally charged.[3] To avoid this kind of confusion, the most common definition of terrorism is used, which includes the following:[4]
            • It is the use of violence or threat of violence in order to purport a political, religious, or ideological change.
            • It can only be committed by non-state actors or undercover personnel serving on the behalf of their respective governments.
            • It reaches more than the immediate target victims and is also directed at targets consisting of a larger spectrum of society.
            • It is both mala prohibita (i.e., crime that is made illegal by legislation) and mala in se (i.e., crime that is inherently immoral or wrong).
            The following criteria of violence or threat of violence fall outside of the definition of terrorism:[5][6]
            • Wartime (including a declared war) or peacetime acts of violence committed by a nation state against another nation state regardless of legality or illegality that are carried out by properly uniformed forces or legal combatants of such nation states.
            • Reasonable acts of self-defense, such as the use of force to kill, apprehend, or punish criminals who pose a threat to the lives of humans or property.
            • Legitimate targets in war, such as enemy combatants and strategic infrastructure that are an integral part of the enemy’s war effort.
            • Collateral damage, including the infliction of incidental damage to non-combatant targets during an attack on or attempting to attack legitimate targets in war.

            There are other ones in the link below and they and do not require “intent to create fear” as a prime characteristic.

            So back to your abuser comment, why does it matter and why is it important that we get this right? I say simply: words matter. And the word “terrorism” is freighted with all sorts of meaning. Harper’s Bill C-51 introduced the very real possibility that eco-protesters can be labeled eco-terrorists for interfering in economic activity. And further the bill creates over the top sentences commensurate with what most people would want terrorists to serve.

            The link below puts forward a well-defined reasoning of why it is important to get this right.

            http://www.cbc.ca/radio/the180/how-to-define-and-report-on-terror-the-problem-with-political-promises-and-ivf-is-a-right-1.3964512/media-need-to-reflect-on-their-role-in-the-quebec-killings-1.3964552

          • > OK but your argument (and dismissal of my desire to find clarity in a definition of terrorism with that clumsy and sensational abused spouse analogy) rests wholly on your definition of terrorism.

            That was not meant to be a “dismissal” of any kind, it was just meant to be an illustration of the dangers of looking for the “problem” in the wrong place; it’s the same category of mistake people make when they whinge about the skirt lengths of rape victims, or when they try to make prostitution illegal to deal with the problem of sex trafficking. Those may be “sensational” analogies, but they’re just illustrations of the problem that I think do a very good job of showing how often and how easily it happens. I did give detailed explanations for every aspect later, rather than dismissing anything.

            From the start I made it clear that it was my own personal definition of terrorism, so naturally all of my positions rest on it. I don’t know why this would be surprising.

            However, the US definition isn’t really that far off from my own. It goes a little farther in some respects, but is a little narrower in others. It may not use the word “fear” *precisely*, but it does say “intimidate”… isn’t that the same thing? When I look at the substantive differences between my definition and theirs:

            • Rather than making the intimidation the primary characteristic, it uses intimidation for the purpose of political or social objectives. I don’t dispute that; in my mind I suppose I always figured that the “creating fear” naturally has to be done for some kind of agenda… I didn’t consider the possibility of creating fear just for the sake of creating fear, because it seems to me that only happens in rather cartoonish movies, not reality. But maybe my definition is too broad in allowing the possibility of someone creating fear for the sake of fear to be called a terrorist, or maybe such people *should* be called terrorists even if they don’t really have a social or political agenda. I’m open to either possibility; it only changes the definition for a very peculiar fringe type of actor.

            • It mentions coercing a government… I’m wary of that. A violent attack on a *government* to cow them into doing something seems qualitatively different to me than a violent attack on a civilian population. They’re both wrong, of course, but an attack on a government is an attack on a power structure, while an attack on the population is quite deliberately targeting the vulnerable. Personally, I see a value in separating the two… or at the very least clarifying that it must be an attack on *civilian* government, not the military. It’s something I’d argue, but it’s not something I’d *fight* over.

            So all-in-all, yes the US definition is a little different from my own personal definition… but not *massively* different. I’d quibble with the inclusion of government as a potential victim, but otherwise I would accept their definition as simply a restatement of my own.

            Now for the Wikipedia “definition”, I’ll take each criteria in turn:

            • “It is the use of violence or threat of violence in order to purport a political, religious, or ideological change.” Okay, the US definition seems to be a sort of transitional fossil between my own definition and this definition: my definition’s core is “to cause fear”, the US definition’s is “to cause fear to provoke political change”, this definition’s is “to provoke political change”. In my case, the political ends were implicit, and I’d say the intimidation is implicit in the Wikipedia definition – with the US definition being completely explicit. Again, I don’t think this is really a *different* criteria than my own, just a different perspective on what is ultimately the same criteria. I’d accept it as a restatement of my own definition.

            • “It can only be committed by non-state actors or undercover personnel serving on the behalf of their respective governments.” Eeeeeh, okay. I suppose that makes sense. I wouldn’t have thought of it, and wouldn’t have included it in my definition, but that just seems an oversight on my part. I suppose a uniformed soldier of a government committing a massacre of civilians (for example) in a foreign country to terrorize the population and coerce them to (for example) pressure the government to end the war with a surrender would not be “terrorism”, but rather an “act of war”. Or perhaps a “war crime”. But see, this is where my wariness of including government targets (as in the US definition) really becomes key: I don’t think a foreign government openly attacking another foreign government is “terrorism”. I would accept this criteria, with that reservation.

            • “It reaches more than the immediate target victims and is also directed at targets consisting of a larger spectrum of society.” Yes, this is part of my own definition. It’s why I said “in a population”, and clarified that meant beyond the immediate targets.

            • “It is both mala prohibita (i.e., crime that is made illegal by legislation) and mala in se (i.e., crime that is inherently immoral or wrong).” Okay, sure. I can’t think of an example of terrorism that wouldn’t be illegal, or that *would* be illegal but morally acceptable.

            So in summary, I don’t really see that my own definition is really not in line with these other definitions. They’re all worded differently, and they all have different takes on it, but it sure looks like we’re all talking about the same thing, qualitatively speaking. I see nothing in any definition that rules something out that other definitions seem to be trying to include.

            I suppose if I were to restate my definition, taking into account the stuff from the other definitions, it would go something like: “as an act of violence, destruction, disruption, or vandalism intended to elicit fear in a population in order to further a social or political agenda”. I suppose I could also add the stuff about non-state actors, but that seems like overkill for the general statement of what terrorism is; it would be included in the details, I suppose. So all I’ve really added is the “to further an agenda” bit, which I kinda thought was implied, but whatever, doesn’t hurt to state it explicitly.

            Bottom line is: The definition of terrorism may not be mathematically precise, but it sure looks like we’re all on the same page. Do you really seen any substantive differences in the definitions?

            > So back to your abuser comment, why does it matter and why is it important that we get this right? I say simply: words matter. And the word “terrorism” is freighted with all sorts of meaning. Harper’s Bill C-51 introduced the very real possibility that eco-protesters can be labeled eco-terrorists for interfering in economic activity. And further the bill creates over the top sentences commensurate with what most people would want terrorists to serve.

            See, you’re doing it again. This is what I was illustrating with the abuser analogy. You’re looking in the wrong place for the problem.

            The problem is *not* that Harper tried to use “terrorism” as a justification for his clearly political aim of intimidating eco-protesters. The problem is that Harper had a political aim to intimidate eco-protesters. The fact that he used a warped definition of “terrorism” to do so is largely irrelevant; if he’d instead warped the definition of “treason” – or even “rape” – as justification, it would be the same problem.

            When the government tries to apply unwarranted punishment for a crime, that’s always a problem. It’s irrelevant what the crime is labelled. Doesn’t matter if it’s “terrorism” or “sodomy”. You’re focusing on the wrong place. Words matter, yes; words have power, yes; but the problem *here* isn’t the words, it’s the government’s action. If the punishment *is* justified by the crime, then it also doesn’t matter whether the crime is called “murder” or “terrorism” (at least, not in the context of whether the punishment is just; obviously it *does* matter when it comes time to understand the *reason* for the crime, and how to prevent it).

            (As an aside, I note that none of the other definitions – not mine, Wikipedia’s, or the US’s – would consider most acts of eco-protest “terrorism”. By *my* definition, if an extreme eco-protestor, say, blew up an oil derrick, that’s certainly a crime, but not terrorism, because the goal was not to create fear in a population but rather to hamper oil development or hurt profits. Same logic applies for the US definition, and for the Wikipedia definition it fails criterion 3 (“reaches more than the immediate target victims and is also directed at targets consisting of a larger spectrum of society”) – and possibly 4, depending on your ethics. But this would be motivation to challenge Harper to explain what *his* definition of “terrorism” is… it’s hardly motivation to *not* call other acts “terrorism” that fit *ALL THREE* definitions, like the mosque shooting.)

            I’m not disagreeing with you that it’s problematic when the government uses “terrorism” to justify terrible things. All I’m saying is that if you’re going to fight that, shoot at the *right* target. If the problem is “the government uses ‘terrorism’ to justify terrible things”, the real problem is not the “uses ‘terrorism'” part, it’s the “horrible things” part. *That* is what you should have a problem with.

            Now, if it were the case that “terrorism” was just a useless moniker, then I wouldn’t really care as much about going after the government merely for (mis)using the term. But as I’ve said, “terrorism” is a *very* useful designation, on many levels. It’s useful at the level of criminal law: a person that guns down 6 innocent people is bad… a person that guns down 6 innocent people *as part of a cause* is worse, because of the danger of that kind of action becoming a tactic. “First degree murder” isn’t enough, because there is a substantive difference between someone who walks into a mosque and guns down 6 people to *rob* them, or as part of some running dispute, versus what likely happened in Québec… the latter was not *just* an attack on the people in the mosque, it was an attack on *all* Muslims. So there’s a good reason to want to be able to label certain acts as terrorism in criminal law. And I’ve already explained how it’s useful as a tool for understanding the motivations of an attack, with an aim to prevent future incidents.

            I’m not disagreeing with you that politicians sometimes use the label “terrorism” badly. I’m just disagreeing with you that the solution is to throw away the label. It’s too useful and too important to throw away for this reason. The solution is to call out the politicians when they use the label inappropriately, not to stop using it altogether.

            What, really, are the specific arguments *against* calling the mosque attack “terrorism”? Because the ones I’ve heard so far are all specious:

            • “We shouldn’t call it terrorism because the term is not *clearly* defined.” Maybe not, but most terms we use in reality aren’t really *clearly* defined, and in this case the rough definition we have certainly seems to apply *very* well.

            • “We shouldn’t call it terrorism because that gives more credit to the perpetrators than they deserve.” Fuck that. I don’t care about the perpetrators, I care about the *victims*. And by calling this terrorism we are acknowledging that the targets of the attack, and the victims, were not just the people in that specific mosque at that specific time.

            • “We shouldn’t call it terrorism because that will give the government justification to crack down on rights, freedoms, and privacy.” If the government ever thinks it has justification to do that, it must be severely disillusioned of that fantasy, regardless of whether they use “terrorism” to claim that justification or something else. This is not an argument against calling the attack “terrorism”, it is an argument against the government doing stupid things.

            • “We shouldn’t call it terrorism because it wasn’t organized or carried out by a specific, cohesive group.” I think that is misguided, given the age we live in. The Internet allows for very decentralized “movements”, some of which have already had significant social and political effect. And modern technology allows “lone wolf” attackers to be more effective, in some cases, than organized groups. Defining “terrorism” to mean only acts by organized groups seems to be an attempt to define terrorism as a historical problem, while ignoring the current and future situation.

            • “We shouldn’t call it terrorism because it wasn’t done by Muslims.” Yeah, I’ve actually heard that argument. I think it’s stupid enough that it rebuts itself.

            Am I missing any?

            Because from where I’m sitting, the mosque attack simply *reeks* of the qualities of terrorism. I don’t see any arguments *against* calling it that… certainly none based on the incident itself, rather than on incidental justifications (like that it would allow government to clamp down on rights and freedoms).

            What are the arguments *against* calling the attack terrorism?

  2. Obviously I support a de-segregated school system, and an end to special employment privileges for Catholics, but I doubt Wynne will do it. Her party is too tied to Catholicism.

  3. “There were around 100 right-wing hate groups across Canada”

    (I love how “hate groups” has to be qualified with “right-wing” to exclude the left-wing hate groups).

    This strikes me as good news. I’d be more concerned if there were a handful, and they were large and well-organized.

    You know who is large? Consider a particular religion that has filled Wikipedia with records of its violent deeds in the last year.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_2016

    • > (I love how “hate groups” has to be qualified with “right-wing” to exclude the left-wing hate groups).

      Actually, there’s an interesting story behind that. In 2012, CSIS published a study of left-wing *and* right-wing extremism in Canada.

      In that study they went on at length about left-wing extremism. They worried about a rise of organized left-wing extremist violence, and fretted about connections between Canadian left-wing groups and European ones. The left-wing extremism that they were concerned with were firebomb attacks on banks during the G20 protests, and a number of bombings and vandalism attempts against oil industry infrastructure (such as in the tar sands) and – surprisingly – prison infrastructure. The attacks ranged from bombings (of structures, not people), to… spraying glue in locks.

      Now, these are all terrible and obviously illegal, but the thing to note is that they’re all attacks against power structures… not against vulnerable populations, and not against actual people. So yes, left-wing extremism exists, but less your life depends on the operation of an oil derrick or a bank, it’s not really a serious issue for the general public.

      So what did they say about *right* wing extremism? Nothing. Seriously. They mentioned literally one “right-wing” extremist group… then quickly said “oh, but they’re not *really* right-wing, they’re also sorta left-wing”.

      They said don’t worry about right-wing extremism. And they said that even after mentioning Anders Brevik.

      Look how that worked out.

      The study on right-wing extremism was carried out specifically because people were horrified by the fact that our law enforcement agencies were just wilfully ignoring right-wing extremists groups. In their report, CSIS listed less than a handful of left-wing extremist groups: one by name, one they say is both left- and right-wing, and one that wasn’t really a “group” but rather just a bunch of people they arrested together at the G20 Summit (CSIS even notes that while there were incidents in 2010, with the Olympics, the G20 Summit, and the G8 Summit, there were no incidents in 2011). Even the FBI says that left-wing “extremist” groups (in the US) mostly engage in constitutionally protected shenanigans, as opposed to violence. We now know, no thanks to CSIS, that there are a *ton* of right-wing groups, they are far better organized and well-connected with even better organized European groups, and they are getting bolder and more dangerous.

      > This strikes me as good news. I’d be more concerned if there were a handful, and they were large and well-organized.
      >
      > You know who is large? Consider a particular religion that has filled Wikipedia with records of its violent deeds in the last year.

      Okay, first of all, I take note how you very slyly dropped the “well-organized” criteria. Very underhanded of you, because it allows you to get away with pretending that Muslims are a unified group by just calling them “large”.

      Further, I didn’t miss how you tried to dishonestly analogize right-wing *EXTREMIST* groups to *ALL MUSLIMS*. Not Muslim *extremist* groups… no, you just want us to “consider a particular religion”.

      When I look at the page you provided, I don’t see what you see. Somehow you see evidence that Islam as a “particular religion” is unduly responsible for the terrorist incidents listed. But when I look at that list – the ones with the highest death tolls – I don’t a general pattern among adherents of Islam. I see… *literally*… one… fucking… group. *Literally* one group, responsible for *all* the highest death toll incidents. How can anyone who is *NOT* a bigot look at that list and not conclude that the Islamic State is violent, but rather conclude that *Islam* is violent? Seriously, your perspectives are truly fucked up.

      And to go even further, that particular group – Islamic State – is *despised* by most Muslims in Canada. Even in mostly Muslim countries, they don’t like IS! So you are trying to tar *all* Muslims with a brush that the vast majority of them explicitly reject. How dishonest can you get? Or do you actually believe that it’s fair to suggest that everyone associated with “a particular religion” is guilty because of one highly-unpopular fringe? Because that would be the most fucking hypocritical thing I’ve ever heard, given how adamantly you said mere days ago that you had no responsibility to dissociate yourself from what other people who oppose Islam do.

      In fact, I’ll use your “logic” against you. You obviously oppose Islam; Alexandre Bissonnette also apparently opposes Islam. Alexandre Bissonnette is a cowardly, hateful little shit, and (allegedly) a murderer. Given that you share an ideology – and not just any ideology, but the one that *specifically* drove Bissonnette to kill – then I have to conclude that you also condone murder sprees against Muslims; that you are part of Bissonnette’s violent, extremist community. Oh, what’s that you say? But you explicitly *reject* Bissonnette’s flavour of opposition to Islam? You share the ideology of opposition to Islam but don’t agree at all with Bissonnette take on it or his actions? Sorry, tough cookies. Because if “Islam” and everyone who follows it has to bear the guilt of what a handful of violent, extremist Muslims do in the name of their idiosyncratic interpretation of their shared ideology (Islam), then you and all “anti-Islam” people have to bear the guilt of what a handful of violent, extremist anti-Islamic people do in the name of opposition to Islam. Wear the shame, you hateful, violent, extremist, anti-Islam bigot.

      I’m guessing you don’t like your own ignorance and stupidity turned back on you. Tough cookies. Take your medicine.

      You are an embarrassment to Canadian atheists.

  4. “Ours Can Be The Political Generation That Silences…”

    Yeah, those words always end badly. I will fight you every step of the way.

  5. Once again, the acronym began, and remains, SHAFTS. Without skepticism, which you might also call empiricism, the rest hardly matters at all.

  6. “Anyone still want to tell me that we don’t have a serious islamophobia problem in Canada?”

    Ah, the weasel words come out! I’ll take the bait. Because you’re going to take an act of vandalism, and you’re going to conflate it with all of the factual, rational assessments of Islam’s ideology, and the views of the people of who follow it.

    Whether you look at Quran, Hadith, Islamic scholars, Muslim-run countries, polls of Muslims, or the simple list of terror attacks, people are ENTIRELY CORRECT to fear this ideology. The fact that is has a magic man attached to it seems to cause people’s eyes to glaze over. Forget the magic man. This is a dangerous ideology.

    We already have our own dangerous ideologies. We don’t need more.

    • > Because you’re going to take an act of vandalism, and you’re going to conflate it with all of the factual, rational assessments of Islam’s ideology, and the views of the people of who follow it.

      No, actually, *you* are trying to conflate them.

      I have always been crystal clear that islamophobia is *NOT* “factual, rational assessments” of *anything*. The definition of islamophobia I have always used – that *every* honest writer has always used – is “*IRRATIONAL* hatred or fear of Islam or Muslims”. That much is obvious from the “-phobia” suffix – same as we use for xenophobia, homophobia, and so on. Islamophobia is *not* rational criticism, so stop trying to dishonestly conflate the two.

      Surely you don’t think that vandalizing a mosque is a “factual, rational assessment of Islam’s ideology”? No? Is it a rational critique in *any* sense? No? Then quit trying to deny the obvious: it’s islamophobia.

      • Is islamophobia in action between varying Islamic groups? Is islamophobia in action between Islamic and Jewish groups?

        Perhaps islamophobia is only in action between Islamic and Christian groups.

        Islamophobia is not in action between Humanists and Islamic groups. Why? Humanists know, only too well, that Islam is just another made-up monotheistic cultish enthusiasm.

        Probably, if there is no supernatural dimension to the Islamic fear phenomena, then there is no irrational fear of this real, existential threat to mankind.

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