Wednesday, 12 May 2010

CSIS Worried about Homegrown Terror *UPDATED*

Welcome Fleas and Furballs,
*UPDATED see below*

The most worrisome terrorist trend in Canada is the increase in second- and third-generation Canadians who have become so "appallingly disenchanted" with life here they are contemplating or engaging in violence at home or abroad, the country's top spy says.
...
Such recruits to terrorism are relatively integrated into Canada — economically and socially — but for whatever reason, they develop connections to their former homeland and reject the essence of Canadian values, he said.

This is worrying, but not surprising. There are two prongs to this: first there are parents who are pushing extremist views on their kids at home (an entirely different issue from what I will discuss below). The second, and an area where decisive action lacks - is influence and propaganda - Do-It-Yourself Radicalization.

At some point, like most teenagers, these second and third generation Canadians take an interest in their family history. Sometimes Mom and Dad are happy to share stories, anecdotes, and their own thoughts with the kids. However there are also times when Mom and Dad are trying to forget the lives they left in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, etc. This does not stop a kid from wanting to know. Where does the child turn? The Internet, the library, the Masjid - wherever they can find someone willing to give them information, someone who can give them a sense of belonging and heritage. Most adults have a hard time figuring out propaganda from fact, myth from reality; teenagers will often go with whatever information stirs up their emotions.

It is not a secret that many teenagers are prone to the victim mentality; it's not just a societal thing, it is an age thing. How many times has your own kid told you something wasn't fair? Imagine then where all these roads meet: these second and third generation Canadians are in their library pouring over books on the Middle East - books that tell them they had a rich, amazing, history of being warriors and building up civilization. These books are in the library you say? Yes, they are and not just the public library - they are in the high school library.

Who orders the books for high school libraries in Ontario? The librarian, and sometimes teachers themselves put in special requests. This is not to suggest that there is some kind of conspiracy to fill high school libraries with propaganda (although it very well may happen given the OSSTF/CUPE connections and the number of these union members involved with the PSC). The simple fact is that generally you have one or two librarians, who cannot be experts on everything, so when they need a book on a certain subject they go online, look around, then order whatever appears to be the best. I doubt you will find very many librarians at Canadian high schools with an in depth knowledge of Saudi funded projects or anti-Western, anti-Israel academics. So the books are ordered, sometimes they are great, other times they are not, but either way some kid signs it out and takes it home to read.

After getting pumped up about their history, kids are on the internet reading that they are victims, that their great civilization has been destroyed, that nobody likes them, that everywhere they go people are judging them, that if Israel would just give up its sovereignty and America would roll over and play dead, the Muslim world would be able to rebuild its greatness, that if Jews and Christians had not messed everything up the world would be a better place. In chat forums people tell them how the West has no morals; it seems to jive with what they have been reading, and suddenly they have a cause. They are part of this great civilization, this morally superior religion that has been victimized and vilified through a terrible serious of injustices. 'Something has to be done!' the student decides. And so, the snowball begins. Devouring propaganda, hitting up the online chat forums, figuring out how to take action.

Maybe the kid starts to make some offhanded comments about Jews or Israel at school - but the teacher does not say much because they are worried about cultural sensitivities. Maybe he starts isolating himself from his friends - but they just think he is getting all religious on them.
Mom and Dad are blissfully unaware. They work 12 hour days trying to build a new life for the kids, far from the politics they left behind. Their work prevents them from spending much time with their kids, and so they do not realize that those politics were not left on the other side of an ocean, they are in their kid's bedroom.

The impact of propaganda, curriculum and literature is immense. When books are not checked, when there is no mythbusting, we lose. Big time. Many kids spend more time at school and with their teachers than with their parents. In Europe some school districts are dropping controversial subjects like the Holocaust. Yes, the Holocaust is controversial if you have a large proportion of students with a certain ethnic/religious background. I do not believe Canada's education system is broke (unlike the UK's which seems beyond repair), but if Canadians fail to take seriously what is being taught in schools, who is teaching it, and what material is made available to their kids it will allow for a continual downward slide à la United Kingdom.

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Note: Before you send me hate mail saying I hate teachers and that I am accusing them of turning students into terrorists, take a deep breath and count to 10. Then reread the above. Teachers (well none that I know) are not turning kids into terrorists - what SMW is saying is that kids are trying to teach themselves and when there is no filter on the material that they have access to, when they are being taught myth over historical fact, when unions that run the school system are anti-Israel and anti Western values, it paves the way for some scary results. I know there are many incredible teachers out there, ones who teach kids to be critical thinkers and who leave their politics at home. They taught me. ; )

UPDATE: An American Case Study: Why you need to know who teaches your kids