James Lileks, "Self-Loathing and the Denial of Terrorism", June 7
You're an enlightened world citizen. Your T-shirt says "9/11 was an inside job." You're pretty sure we're living in a fascist state, that President Bush taps the Dixie Chicks' phones, Christian abortion clinic bombers outnumber jihadis, and the war on "terror" is a distraction from the real threats: carbon emissions and Pat Robertson. Then you learn that 17 people were arrested in a terrorist bomb plot. How do you process the information? Let's take it step by step.
Toronto Star: Their so-called training camp turns out to have been a swath of bush near Washago, where their activities — shooting off firearms and playing paintball — were so obvious and so irritating that local residents immediately called police.
Recall the prime directive: Question Authority (unless he's a college professor). The plotters must have been impoverished olive farmers radicalized by the removal of Saddam Hussein. Why, if someone came in and toppled your president, you'd go to their country and ... well, you'd thank them. Unless they did it for the wrong reasons! Then you'd blow something up. Like an SUV dealership. At night. Anyway, you understand; you care a lot about Iraqis these days. You think about Iraq more than China, to be honest, but it's not as if you'll scrape off your "Free Tibet" bumper sticker -- unless it's to make room for "Free Darfur." Or "Hands Off Darfur," depending.
Toronto Star: These suspects, it is alleged, simply trespassed on someone's farm and, when the owner told them to leave, gave him lip.
Wait a minute: The "terrorists" were Canadian? You can understand someone blowing up trains in Spain and London. They sent troops to an illegal war cooked up by neocons who want to kill brown people for Exxon and Jesus, or something. You can understand, reluctantly, blowing up teens in an Israeli pizza parlor, because the Jews took the West Bank from the sovereign, ancient nation of Palestine. (How can a liberal socialist country behave so poorly? The world is full of mysteries.) But Canada? Isn't Michael Moore from Canada? You can get medical marijuana from married gay doctors in Canada, and no one has guns. You console yourself: Maybe they were really planning to attack the U.S.
Toronto Star: They apparently didn't realize, or perhaps didn't care, that large groups of brown-skinned urbanites dressed in camouflage are not a common sight in rural central Ontario.
But wait. You read that the suspects were not connected to al-Qaida, and you're confused for a moment. Maybe it won't be over if they get Osama bin Laden (provided he isn't really in an supersecret Idaho prison). What if the "terrorists" hate you for their own reasons? The evildoer-in-chief said "they hate our freedoms" -- as if we have freedoms, really, just try and get a bike-messenger job that has full health benefits. But what if rights and mixed-sex education and an economy based on sustainable hemp-based art installations mean nothing to them?
Toronto Star: [W]hen local resident Mike Côté came upon a group of just such men near his Ramara Township farm last December, he immediately informed police.
As he told the Star this week, the group appeared cold, wet and bedraggled. Some had fallen though the thin ice into a marsh. The leader of these alleged terrorists was so disgusted with his young charges that he complained to Côté about their incompetence.
Maybe you could convince them to hold off while you fix Amerikkka. At least you can get it down to one k. Maybe if the Democrats take the House back. A 10-seat swing won't make the imams cool down, but 20 seats, in red states? Would that be a good-faith effort?
Toronto Star: It appears that a good many knew the police were on to these suspects. Harper knew. So did Toronto Mayor David Miller. So did some of the suspects' neighbours. So did many near the ill-fated Ramara Township "training camp," who told the Star later that police asked them to keep their mouths shut.
But the alleged terrorists, it seems, remained blissfully ignorant. They let themselves get snared in an RCMP sting when one of the 17 allegedly placed an order for three tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, a substance that can be used to make bombs
You worry this will push Haditha off the front page. It's very important that everyone concentrate on the atrocities committed by U.S. troops every day. (It's such a relief not to have to pretend to support the troops anymore.) Anyway, nothing happened. Nothing blew up. If the suspects were planning something, they didn't do it, and this proves we can handle this as a law enforcement matter. Even though the police are racists.
Toronto Star: Some, it appears, chatted openly online about their paramilitary exploits at websites such as the now-dismantled http://www.shaheed.ca , oblivious to the fact that the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service regularly troll such sites.
"I got my gun and tomorrow in the morning I am gonna do some target practise (sic) inshAllah (God willing) hott," reads one 2003 posting. "Checked out some paintball guns today at walmart."
You find yourself almost wishing there was another real attack, so people could see the logical consequences of "fighting back" after 9/11. Yes, it would be bad, but sometimes you have to break an egg to show people the health impact of omelettes. Is it wrong to wish the Canadian terrorists might have succeeded?
Shouldn't you know the answer to that question?
Canadian Press: An alleged plot to take MPs hostage on Parliament Hill was abandoned at an early stage because the suspects — who hail from southern Ontario — knew little about Ottawa, The Canadian Press has learned.