Jonah Goldberg

A few years ago I wrote a cover story for National Review with the subtle and nuanced title, "Bomb Canada: The Case for War." It caused quite a stir up there. My argument at the time was that Canada needed to be slapped out of its delusions and forced to stand up for itself in ways other than the Potemkin courage it shows in "standing up" to the United States.

Had I thought of it at the time, maybe I should have had American bombers stand down and suggested instead that Islamic terrorists plot to behead the Canadian prime minister and blow up a few important buildings.

Canada is arguably the most deluded industrialized nation in the world. Because elite Canadians think the U.S. is the font of the world's problems, they think being different than the U.S. and sucking up to the United Nations will buy them grace on the cheap. They claim to be "a nation of peacekeepers," but they rank 50th among U.N. peacekeeper nations in the number of troops sent. They've bravely contributed to the war in Afghanistan, where 2,300 troops still serve, but refused to join the effort in Iraq, believing that jihadists would honor such fine distinctions. That was awfully nice of them. Too bad nice has nothing to do with it.

The presence of a profoundly evil, homegrown terror cell in Canada has understandably provoked a lot of soul-searching to our north. As one Canadian editorial put it: "We are Canada, peacekeepers to the world, everybody's nice guy. Who would want to harm us, and why?" Or as Audrey Macklin, a University of Toronto law professor, confessed to the L.A. Times, Canadians "picture themselves as being thought of as nicer than the United States." Why on earth would terrorists want to hurt a "nice" country? Well, for starters, nice isn't all it's cracked up to be. The frog who carried the scorpion on his back in Aesop's fable was nice. It didn't make the scorpion's sting any less poisonous.

Indeed, there's good reason to believe that niceness is part of the problem, not the solution. Many Canadians (and Americans and Europeans) cling to a deep-seated belief that more multiculturalism, more interfaith dialogue, more "understanding," more Western apologies, more acceptance of Sharia, more "niceness" will fix the problem.

As the American Enterprise Institute's Reuel Marc Gerecht and the French intellectual Olivier Roy have suggested, multiculturalism in many ways breeds Islamic radicalism among deracinated "born-again" Muslims in the West. It foments the climate of grievance and honors the quest for radical authenticity. Indeed, jihadism imports any number of Marxist and anti-colonial bugaboos into its worldview and then spits them back out at the West. "This militant evolution is happening, in situ, on our territory. It partakes henceforth of the internal history of the West," Roy observed. The 9/11 hijackers were Westernized, educated and cosmopolitan. Nearly all of the alleged Canadian plotters were raised in Canada and attended Canadian public schools. They were indeed homegrown.

Just a few weeks before the alleged Canadian terror plot was revealed, a sociology professor penned an essay in a Canadian newspaper boasting how well "multiculturalism works in Canada." Canadians are blissfully immune to the backlash against multiculturalism in Europe and the U.S. caused by jihadi terror, argued Augie Fleras, and this has created a climate of progress and social peace. Fleras might want to revisit that.

But if Europe and the U.S. are any guide, it's doubtful Fleras and his confreres will have any epiphanies about the failures of multiculturalism. The Danish cartoon controversy was a perfect example of appeasement. A host of Western leaders indulged jihadist outbursts and threats to behead cartoonists and journalists by denouncing, in Bill Clinton's words, "these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam." Sen. John Kerry joined in the moral equivalence: "These and other inflammatory images deserve our scorn, just as the violence against embassies and military installations are an unacceptable and intolerable form of protest." And French President Jacques Chirac tut-tutted that "anything liable to offend the beliefs of others, particularly religious beliefs, must be avoided."

In Canada, the retreat into denial was instantaneous. At the news conference announcing the arrests, officials said the alleged plotters came from "a variety of backgrounds" and the "broad strata" of Canadian society because "some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed." They might as well have said the accused plotters were diverse because they all liked different ice cream. The relevant fact was that they were all Muslim and nearly all attended a single radical mosque. But it would be rude to mention that.

In a meeting with Muslim leaders the day after the news conference, Toronto's chief of police reportedly boasted that the government never mentioned the alleged terrorists' religion. Well, isn't that sweet. I'm sure the next time Islamists set out to chop off lawmakers' heads or murder the staff of the Canadian Broadcasting Co., they'll keep in mind how nice you were about all this.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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