Wednesday, 18 March 2015 15:54

The enemy may not be who the government thinks it is

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From now until the federal election Oct. 19, politicians will be jockeying for your vote.

 


For some, part of their strategy seems to be offering us a solution to terrorism in exchange for our checkmark on the ballot.
Some politicians, both here and in the United States, along with certain media outlets, often use a very wide brush to paint Muslims as terrorists. Let’s be clear. There are Muslim terrorists, but not all Muslims are terrorists. Those who are represent only a miniscule fraction of the entire Muslim population.
The problem, we’re told, is that Muslims don’t respect our way of life, our values. Besides that, everyone knows they speak a rough, guttural language. They come from a weird place, with different food and strange customs. Their religion isn’t ours. It’s like they aren’t quite human the way we’re human. We’re gonna keep an eye on them because they’re probably up to no good. 
The same cloud of suspicion once hung over Canadians with German heritage. During the First World War, the citizens of Prussia, Saskatchewan, many of whom spoke German, responded to pressure and anti-German feelings by changing the community’s name to Leader. Being white, they weren’t interned like Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.
The same fear and mistrust are back, or maybe they never went away. Only now they’re directed at Muslims. No matter, anyone who is different will do. From today until the election, and surely after, Muslim people and our fear of them will be exploited by politicians.
There’s a veteran I met once who has a story about “the enemy.” I think of it when politicians and the media are trying to manipulate me into being afraid of Muslims.
Louis is from Western Canada. He survived the Second World War. His brother Richard didn’t. Richard had lived through the D-Day Landing only to be killed in the final days of the war when the outcome was already decided. Richard was sitting on a tank as his unit drove past a farm in Germany. A rifle shot erupted from the barn. Within seconds, the entire unit opened fire and killed the sniper, but it was too late for Richard.
The unit dug a make-shift grave near the farm house, recorded its location, but were ordered to keep driving, minus one of their own.
Later, the army gave Louis a jeep and the services of an interpreter so he could find his brother’s grave. Louis found the farm and was very surprised to see what had happened to Richard’s grave.
Louis met the couple who lived on the farm. They felt very bad. The couple was standing in their yard when Richard was shot. They didn’t know the sniper was hiding in their barn.
Speaking through the interpreter, Louis learned that the couple had lost a son in the war. His body was never found. The wife said that she wanted to care for Richard like she would have cared for her own son.
She placed a cross at the head of the shallow grave. She planted flowers and lined the plot with stones — all for “the enemy’s” son who wasn’t hers.
After the war, Louis returned to Canada, but visited the German couple in Europe several times.
On one trip, he took his mother to visit Richard’s grave and to meet the Germans who cared for it. 
My point is to remember that people are people. If they hate us, it might be because their government told them to. We have that in common with Muslims.
(Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing. For more information about his speaking engagements, phone 306-661-8975 or visit www.canoetoneworleans.com.)

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Dominique Liboiron

Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing.