Smothering the burning embers of terrorism: Sears 

Good and balanced commentary:

Canada had been astonishingly blessed to be mostly free of all but a few murders by angry young men mimicking serious terrorists — so far. But that is surely not a predictor of our future. Those more brutally stung by repeated attacks have moved far ahead of us in radicalization prevention, at-risk youth outreach, monitoring and countering incitement rhetoric online, in school, and in the community.

It is way past time that we made compulsory again the study of civics, in every elementary school year. A program of learning on the responsibilities of citizenship, on why a socially tolerant Canada is the only path to a safer Canada, on the story of the giants of our history on whose shoulders we stand, having been bequeathed this blessed, but always fragile, new nation.

This is not about attacks on other communities, other cultures, disguised as a “discussion about Canadian values.” Nor is it jeremiads like Supreme Court Justice Abella’s against “narcissistic populism” as powerful as they have been. It’s about demonstrating to everyone the meaning of the shared responsibilities of citizens in our democracy, and those we have to each other. What Toronto political sage Bill MacDonald has so elegantly dubbed the “Canadian culture of mutual accommodation.”

As we celebrate our 150 years of success in building a new form of nationhood, we cannot let our pride blind us to its perennial fragility. Canadian religious and public safety leaders, for example, need to deepen their conversations about the boundaries between acceptable and illegal hate speech, develop stronger models of shared engagement focused on mutual education and prevention, not merely surveillance and arrest.

Perhaps most important of all, Canadian business, civic, and community leaders need to make it clear to politicians and pundits who use racial, religious and ethnic divisions for votes or clicks, just how certain will be the destruction of their reputations and careers.

For it is not insensitive to the suffering of the Manchester families of the children who were victims of this latest atrocity to remember this: it is how we react to attack that is the path to less terror. We invest in prevention, we make punishment certain, and we double down on the peddlers of hate.

Perhaps with a deeper commitment to prevention our day will never come. But as the Japanese cliché has it, “People don’t learn from experience, only from catastrophe.” If, despite all our efforts, the one-time we fail leads to tragedy, we must ensure that our defiance in the face of attack includes a resolute commitment to the open inclusive Canada that so much blood was shed to build and to guarantee.

Source: Smothering the burning embers of terrorism: Sears | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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