Wente Watch

Thursday, September 21, 2006

We tortured Goldstein

Today Wente calls the media to task for its treatment of Maher Arar. There is nothing in the column I disagree with. But there is plenty more that needs to be said, and isn't.

The Maher Arar case is an inevitable byproduct of the "war on terror", a largely bogus construct designed to fuel public hysteria for the pursuit of political ends. It is what Orwell depicted as Goldstein: the shadowy enemy of all that is good, the object of mass fear and hate, relentlessly pursued, always defeated, but who never seems to actually disappear. As John Mueller pointed out in a recent Foreign Affairs article:

the total number of people killed since 9/11 by al Qaeda or al Qaeda­like operatives outside of Afghanistan and Iraq is not much higher than the number who drown in bathtubs in the United States in a single year...the lifetime chance of an American being killed by international terrorism is about one in 80,000 -- about the same chance of being killed by a comet or a meteor. Even if there were a 9/11-scale attack every three months for the next five years, the likelihood that an individual American would number among the dead would be two hundredths of a percent (or one in 5,000)


Al Qaeda isn't a giant, shadowy organization with tentacles poking all over the West, ready to kill or maim. It is nothing more than a small group of extremists in northwest Pakistan who got away with one big strike and several small ones. It inspires various amateur groups around the world, including a few socially alienated second-generation Muslim immigrants in Western countries, who more often than not are foiled by law enforcement well before their planned attacks.

For the world as a whole, the toll from violent deaths comes overwhelmingly from wars and civil wars. The war in DR Congo alone took over four million lives, or more than a thousand times as many as have died from terrorism in all human history.

But people don't think logically with respect to terrorism. It is an unknown that can seemingly strike anywhere, it undermines our sense of safety. So we let our imaginations run wild, worrying about a terrorist under every bush. We vow to move heaven and earth, engage in whatever war it takes, undermine any civil liberty, torture any suspect to give us our elusive sense of safety.

Is Islamic terrorism a threat? Yes. But it is not a major threat. It only feels like one. American foreign policy since 2001 has been a giant emotional overreaction, like a homeowner maniacally spraying his entire neighborhood with insecticide because he saw a single roach on his dinner table.

And Margaret Wente is one of Canada's leading scare-mongers. She has repeatedly stereotyped and stigmatized Muslim immigrants. She has cheerleaded wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and called for more human rights abuses there. She has done her best to whip up a climate of fear and distrust, where every Muslim is looked at with suspicion, every illegal imprisonment justified as a sacrifice needed to beat Goldstein the nefarious Islamofascists.

Who knows how many more like Maher Arar there are now, or will be in future?

1 Comments:

  • Funny how you should mention 1984. The politically correct left which you and this website seem to be part of resemble the big brother government with every passing day.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 22, 2006 12:49 a.m.  

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