Monday, 31 August 2009

We Apply the Laws to Protect Ourselves

Like others, I was disturbed by the substance of Raphael's post about the continuing saga of Omar Khadr. Raphael is suggesting that the lack of evidence should not prevent us from locking up (presumably forever) Omar Khadr. We, the West, were in the right, they, the Taliban and their supporters, were in the wrong and that's all the proof needed to prosecute anyone caught.

History has shown us time and again, that if a society sets aside the laws in the zeal to prosecute the "them," we debase and devalue the very society we seek to protect. If Germany had not indulged in an orgy of anti-semitsm, WWII would have been just another war. There would not be this eternal guilt from the utter evil of attempted genocide. This crime committed in Germany's name was so vast, that it overshadows the "normal" evils of war, leaves a stain beyond anyone's comprehension. Human society understands war, we have conventions and rules to guide its conduct.

On our side of the pond, we were not entirely blameless. The rounding up of citizens of German or Japanese origin, was a blight on Canada's war effort. We found a target for our fears, and let them suffer to soothe those fears.

But Omar Khadr is just one person, not an entire subsection of society. Really? This argument falls flat, because Khadr is the only Canadian captured. If there were a dozen or hundreds in Guantanamo Bay, the desire to persecute them for being on the "wrong side" would still be there. In some aspects, the fact that we are having trouble dealing with an individual is very troubling. We, a society of millions, could not deal with one troubled teenager?

Am i the only one that finds the charges against Omar Khadr laughable? How can he be guilty of murder during an armed conflict? Reverse the situation, and it was an American soldier in an outpost overrun by the Taliban. If he had fought until the bitter end, to kill as many Taliban as he could before finally being captured, would he not be a hero?

That to me is the central issue. Prosecuting fighters on the other side of armed combat as murderers is, unethical, immoral and hypocritical. If "we" can do it, why can't they? What's to stop other jurisdictions from trying and prosecuting American, British or Canadian soldiers for murder? (And don't pull out the "they were irregular forces, guerrilla's, terrorists" protection. There's very little to distinguish Omar Khadr from these Canadians (or from the British Loyalists.) Unless we're willing to rewrite vast swathes of our history.

If Omar Khadr commited any crime, it was treason. If this is at all prosecutable, then we should have brought him home and tried him in a Canadian court for this crime.

Our failure to do so, is our continuing shame. The Canadian government is being dishonest and cowardly in its handling of this affair. When he hide behind the skirts of justice, but fail to apply it fairly and without prejudice, we dishonor the very notion.

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