05/12/2015 12:35 EDT | Updated 05/12/2016 05:59 EDT

Sympathy for Omar Khadr Is One Thing, Gushing Over Him Is Another


I can understand having sympathy for Omar Khadr. I share some of that sympathy. From birth he was fed a steady diet of hatred and lies and probably had limited opportunities to escape that diet. I have often thought that locking his odious mother up with him would not have been an injustice.

I can understand feeling frustration at how Khadr's long and winding case has been handled, starting back in 2002. I share some of that frustration. (Jean Chretien, who was Prime Minister then, had intervened on behalf of Khadr's father when the latter was arrested in Pakistan for his alleged role in the 1995 bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad. Thanks for that, Jean.)

What I can't understand are people portraying Khadr as a martyr and an innocent with a dreamy smile.

Yes, I am talking to you, ladies on social media who raved about Khadr's charms after his Thursday night release on bail. His dimple got special notice. More creepily still, one of you asked him out for a beer.

Then there was the "oh, he's so soft-spoken and sweet, how could he be a criminal?" trend. Carol Off asked, "Where's the terrorist?" What on earth did this seasoned journalist expect? That he would say, "Hi, I'm Omar, it's great to be out of jail and Death to America!"

Rather like convicted Boston-bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, I'm sure it won't be long before Khadr winds up posing fetchingly on a magazine cover. The only thing I'm not sure of is which magazine will do the honours, such as they will be.

Khadr killed one man, blinded another, and -- smiling and laughing (it was captured on video) -- helped build bombs that he hoped would slaughter more people. One can really find better people over whom to moon. Had he not been captured by the Americans -- their medics saved his life -- he might have tried to kill many more people, including Canadian soldiers, and he likely would have been killed himself.

Of course, it isn't merely women apologizing for Khadr, and though most of the men doing so haven't gushed much, one offered (and then apologized for the offer) a free meal to Khadr and another made an utterly specious (and misspelled) historical comparison.

For some on Canada's left, a deep anti-Americanism infects everything, and opinions about the war on terror have, as this book review points out, "calcified" around Khadr's story.

But even that can't explain Elizabeth May's outburst at the Press Gallery dinner. Any apologies she has issued so far have missed the point. She keeps saying she is sorry she swore, but naughty words aren't the problem. It is the content of her rant for which she needs to repent (though I'll give her full marks for not mentioning the dimple).

I would like to hear some sincere repenting from Khadr. So far, he has only said that he "can't change the past" and that he is sorry for the "pain" he caused "the families of the victims." Should he ever make an unequivocal and apparently sincere statement renouncing jihad and expressing remorse for his crimes, I would give him the benefit of the doubt. But I still would really not recommend going out for a drink with him.


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