The case of Omar Khadr should be relatively simple. As usual however, the bottom third of the Canadian political intellect is having enormous difficulties grasping very simple truths and is making everything much more complicated than it has to be.
Their argument (such as it is) is that Khadr's family was only Canadian for convenience. Without believing in the professed values of Canada, they took advantage of its free healthcare system. Furthermore, the Khadr family have close ties to the monstrous Al Qaeda terrorist organization. Finally (and most absurdly) Omar Khadr himself is supposed to be a hardened and dangerous terrorist, with his act of terrorism being throwing a grenade during a fire-fight with US troops in Afghanistan. Because of all of this, Khadr's torture and indefinite detention at the US Guantanmo Bay should be of no concern of any Canadian and the young man well deserves such treatment.
I'll go through these points in order. First of all, there are no differing grades of Canadian citizenship. All Canadian citizens are equal before the law. As such, the Canadian government has an equal obligation to defend all of us and all of our rights, especially when we are being subjected to extreme outrages such as illegal arrests and torture. Were it the case that the government could pick and choose which Canadians it defended based upon whether it liked them or not, we would find ourselves in very dangerous territory. I'd certainly take great sport if I was the Prime Minister, in publicly disavowing any responsibility for the rights of Canadian Council of Chief Executives leader Thomas D'Aquino, or any of the Blogging Tory mutants who daily state their hatred of core Canadian values, or any of the Liberal or Conservative swine pushing for the Security and Prosperity Partnership. (Now, as in the past, right-wing dunces will interpret the sentiments as displayed in that last sentence as evidence of my leftist totalitarianism, immorality and disregard for the rule of law. The fact that I'm only illustrating the dangers of their own political beliefs will be completely lost on them, this clarifying sentence notwithstanding!)
Regarding the fact that Omar Khadr's sole claim to being Canadian is that he was born here, I can only respond: "So?" That's all that I had to do as well. There's millions of people in this country who enjoy the relatively high living standards and political freedoms of being Canadian while they're all the while the most unsavoury sorts of human beings, and they have a right to this as a birthright due to those born within the latitudes and longitudes of the political entity of Canada. End of story.
Continuing, there's the argument that the Khadr's had allied themselves with Al Qaeda. This is one of the most evil organizations on earth, responsible for the deaths of thousands of people and the immense sufferings of tens of thousands more. Al Qaeda espouses a vile religious-political philosophy that is a direct threat to our freedoms and our way of life. While all of that is true, the argument of the right-wing is that because Al Qaeda is bad, we are justified in physically exterminating them and torturing their children. Which is kind of a gigantic exercise in dangerous, self-righteous hypocrisy. Al Qaeda's greatest threat to our unevenly applied traditions of human rights and the rule of law is that it provides an excuse for the latent fascists among us to call for the abandonment of these values to expedite our suppression of it.
There's also the uncomfortable fact, generally unspeakable in our deluded and debased political culture, that Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda have genuine grievances against the world system dominated by the United States. In his statement immediately after the 9-11 attack, bin Laden referred to
Millions of innocent children are being killed as I speak. They are being killed in Iraq without committing any
sins, and we don't hear condemnation or a fatwa (religious decree) from the rulers. In these days, Israeli
tanks infest Palestine — in Jenin, Ramallah, Rafah, Beit Jalla, and other places in the land of Islam, and we
don't hear anyone raising his voice or moving a limb.
Bin Laden is referring to the murderous UN Sanctions against Iraq, supervised and enforced by the US and UK leaders Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, which (all duplicitous objections to this truth aside) were responsible for the deaths of one-million Iraqis, half of them children. One-million is a lot of people. I don't know about you, but I don't have one-million family and friends, so that would be me plus everyone I know and love. He's also referring to the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli state, which has continued to descend to every level of barbarism. Some idiots, when unable to argue against the truth about these crimes, have tried to argue that bin Laden is merely using our own atrocities as an excuse for his violence. Evidently, like bush II's conception of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden is a "madman" interested in murder and violence simply for their own sakes. [Given his own shaky grasp on reality and his enthusiastic embrace of military violence, I'd wager that bush II is the craziest of all three of these monsters.]
The justification for this explanation of Al Qaeda's motives is this: If we in the West can click our tongues in condemnation of anyone allying themselves to the violent, inhuman Al Qaeda, why the hell shouldn't we do the same thing for people who join the US army or who support the US government? Among other things, bush II renewed the legal immunity for "Blackwater" mercenaries in Iraq, even after they'd shown themselves to be incompetent, trigger-happy goons with a horrifying disregard for the lives of Iraqi civilians. Legal immunity!! What do we expect to happen when one gives mercenaries legal immunity? Wholesale slaughter is what did happen and what will happen, as bush II well knew when he pressed for continued immunity. Just because most of the people in the West are too ignorant and too debased to grasp the extent of our own inhumanity in the Middle East, doesn't eliminate the fact that some people from that part of the world are aware of our crimes and therefore don't see joining Al Qaeda as all that insanely evil a decision. We bomb people indiscriminately. We rob them. We shoot them in the thousands. We torture them. We trade images of their mutilated corpses for pornography from "nowthatsfuckedup.com" We create millions of refugees. But 3/4's of us are incapable of identifying any genuine grievances anyone could have against us.
Now we get to the individual Omar Khadr himself. At the age of 15, after a lifetime under his father's tutelage, and years of contact with Al Qaeda, he was at a house in Afghanistan that came under attack by US soldiers. At some point in the fight, the Americans believed that all in the house had been killed and there was a momentary lapse in their defenses. At this point, a grenade was thrown from the house, killing one Sgt. Christopher Speer. I don't know anything about Sgt. Speer. I know that he was at the very least, somebody's son. It must be difficult to lose a child and I sympathize with whatever grief his passing has caused. But at the same time, it has to be acknowledged that there have been a million excess deaths as a result of Western rampaging in Iraq, as well as uncounted thousands dead from starvation and violence in Afghanistan. As well, Speer was killed in a military action. To charge Khadr (whom recent evidence suggests might not have even thrown the grenade that killed Speer) with a "war crime" for throwing a grenade during a fire-fight goes against even the logic of hyper-hypocrite and torture advocate John Yoo .
Alas, it's not beyond the denizens of the Canadian right-wing blog-o-sphere, or the leaders of "Canada's Shittiest Government" who are all fine-and-dandy with Khadr's being beaten, tortured at Guantanamo Bay and his upcoming prosecution at the hands of bush II's illegitimate kangaroo court system there. Khadr deserves no rights and no sympathy because, ... well, apparently because he was his father's son.
At 15 years of age, Khadr should have known that Al Qaeda was an evil organization, even though such clarity of thought is beyond impressionable North Americans in the cases of their own militaries and governments. Khadr should have realized, out in the wilds of Afghanistan with probably zero sources of alternative information that his father was an evil man. That's what your average North American boy realizes when he hears that his father the business man owns sweat-shops, or is a slum-lord, or who denies people medical coverage, or who slaughtered peasants in Vietnam or who overthrows poor country governments or whatever.
To hear torture advocates like Raphael Alexander present the case, neither Khadr's youth, his upbringing, his Canadian citizenship, or the fact that his alleged crime appears to have been defending himself in a fire-fight, qualifies him for our sympathy or our government's obligation to defend his rights. Which is complete nonsense. As I hope I have established.
For god's sake; Khadr asked that he be killed when he was captured. Instead, for reasons known only to themselves, the psychopaths in the US military took him prisoner, chained him to the floor of a plain, forced him to soil himself on his journey to Guantanamo Bay, kicking him repeatedly, and they've held him for five years of abuse, to, evidently try him by a military tribunal that has no legitimacy and, therefore, will produce a "conviction" that nobody beyond the insane bush II regime and its equally insane and dismally stupid fans will believe in.