I have been trying desperately to find a Canadian subject to write about and am as fatigued with the Trump story as are some grumbling readers. It is time for some perspective on both countries. In the current mania, hundreds of thousands of people marched in protests over much of the world because of the suspension of the right to enter the United States for 90 days of citizens of the leading terrorism-promoting state (Iran), and six states riven by chronic violence, much of it generated by terrorist organizations (Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen). The minority leader of the U.S. Senate publicly burst into tears over the fate of the victims though he emphatically approved Barack Obama, who also condemned this step last week, when he imposed a similar measure, with less apparent reason. Peggy Wente in The Globe and Mail unctuously regretted that the U.S “looks as if it is descending into a dark place,” but did remind readers that a 90-day ban on refugees from seven terrorist-infested and sponsoring countries was “not the Holocaust.” (If we protested every time there was inconvenience at airports, we would all be marching every day.) Countries can control their own borders but this was an unexceptionable measure sloppily implemented. But the Trump debate has become so polarized we may soon be hearing recitals from Gustave Le Bon’s 1895 book on the Psychology of Crowds, if not Jose Ortega y Gasset’s “Revolt of the Masses” (1930).
The horrible and tragic murders in the Quebec Muslim centre on Sunday brought suitable comment, but why are Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Couillard calling it an act of terrorism? There is no evidence that the indicted suspect would qualify as a terrorist. Nor is the Canadian media’s effort to conclude, before any evidence has been publicly taken, that a formerly sensible 27-year old student was transformed into a mass murderer by following the Trump campaign, and by the brief visit to Quebec last year of France’s National Front leader, Marine Le Pen. Trump is calling for measures to reduce violence and Le Pen, though critical of some concessions made to French Muslims, is certainly not an advocate of violence and expelled her father from the party he founded, in 2015, when he was 87, for minimizing the significance of the Holocaust. Because Trudeau and Couillard were saying it was an act of terrorism, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, briefly took that line up as well, when he was being pressed by journalists about the 90-day travel ban.