Useless Political Correctness

The headline reads “Document reveals RCMP strategy for possible ‘flood of foreign fighters’ fleeing Mosul offensive.” I think it is supposed to make me feel safer.

I am pleased to read that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are prepared to deal with returning fighters. I would expect no less of our national police force. And I am not surprised that they have identified 180 Canadians described as “active in terrorism” who are overseas, including 100 in Iraq and Syria. Not to mention the 60 who have returned to this country that they are keeping an eye on.

What I don’t understand is the reluctance, either on the force’s part or the journalist’s, to do a bit more to identify these fighters who may be returning to Canada soon. Not their names (which would be contrary to Canadian privacy laws anyway), but what motivates them. I gather they are not people who have been making their living on the European professional boxing circuit, not that kind of fighter. But what are they?

The article gives some hints: the people being tracked are expected to return to Canada from Iraq and Syria. We know what type of conflict is happening there. One assumes then that they have been fighting not in a boxing ring. There is concern that they have been “radicalized,” which suggests they have been fighting for Islamic forces of one side or another. (I guess the ones who haven’t gone to take part in the conflict because they are “radicalized” are merely mercenaries. But last I heard ISIS wasn’t paying that well, at least not by Canadian standards. They’ve had budget cutbacks as they have lost territory and world oil prices have dropped.

I understand the sensitivities, but to me this is political correctness run amok. What have these people been “radicalized” into? Are we afraid to say it?

Many years ago in school I learned that the root of the word radical was the Greek word “radix” which means “root” in English. So apparently the concern is that these fighters have returned to their roots. What roots? The Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion notwithstanding, it is not normative Canadian behavior to pack your things to take part in someone else’s military action. The government and the police are right to be concerned. You would think, given the geographical area involved, that they could bring themselves to use the word jihadi or Muslim.

So why not call a spade a spade? Drop the political correctness. The RCMP are concerned that 180 Canadians living overseas, and 60 in Canada, may be turning to a radical form of Islam that could lead to them committing terrorist attacks at home. They may have become Islamic jihadis seeking to impose their values on others through violence.

Was that hard to say? I understand the theological issues probably better than the RCMP – when you suggest that ISIS recruits are “radicalized” you are suggesting that ISIS and its actions is indeed true Islam. But not all Muslims share that viewpoint, which most people understand without the need to say it.

Whether it was the media or the RCMP who tried to pretend that religion doesn’t factor into this situation is I suppose irrelevant in the end. The new article makes both look silly. Canadians aren’t that stupid, we know what “radicalized” means.

The Muslims I know wish those radicals would find a new name for themselves because they don’t share the same values. They are tired of always having to explain how they are not like that.

As a Christian I understand that feeling. Too often I have been called upon to defend those who have acted in the name of Christ in ways that are contrary to Scripture. I’m not sure people understand when I say “I’m a Christian, but I’m not like that.” Bruce Cockburn wrote a song about that feeling.

It’s probably tougher for Muslims. At least Christian can point at the life and ministry of Jesus and his words of peace and non-violence. Not that easy to do with Mohammed.


  1. Well-written. I think ‘turn the other cheek’ is uniquely Christian, from my understanding of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Some Canucks went to Vietnam too.

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