The thing about atrocities, colleagues, is that they tend to harden observers' political positions; there is an angry I-told-you-so component to each possible interpretation of an event like this.
So I got angry on the news; not just righteously angry at the Enemy and his jackals, but pissed at the Talib excusers, pacifi-fundamentalists, and Quiet Lifers, the whole fellow-travelling fuckin' pack of 'em, our ideological opponents, for whom any international action beyond well-digging, school-building and child-vaccinating is too inappropriate to consider, even while the unabashed Enemy poisons the water, burns the classrooms, and shoots the doctors in the face.
There's been little talk from these misbegotten left-internationalists, I notice, about the moral necessity of a UN role in Iraq since August '03. Which was when, you'll recall, the great guarantors of multi-lateral understanding established their Baghdad mission, whereupon the Enemy immediately murdered them all. (RIP, Sergio de Mello, and RIP your gentle, hopeful, sophisticated way of thinking.)
It is the same Enemy that executed our fellow-citizens in the Rescue Committee convoy, I think we agree, comrades...? (I capitalize the E 'cos I acknowledge that the jihadi is essentially one man -- the arsonist and exterminator of Allah's staff, Mohammed's wingman and butcher, get it --? In all his many manifestations.)
The peculiar response from Stopland on this matter is not to recommend the hunting down of these killers of women, nor the extirpation of the permanent threat they pose to Afghanis, women, Shia Moslems, Pakistanis, homosexuals, Israel, Western idealists, etc., etc... naw, near as I can tell, the massacre's political meaning, over in Leftland, is this:
It's the West's fault. Ottawa and CIDA and the Forces should guarantee the safety of every Canadian, esp. aid workers, who steps into the 'Stan, voluntarily or not, and should be held civilly liable, ie vulnerable to lawsuits, if any civilian Canuck should get killed by the Enemy, or by accident. I ain't kidding.
I cannot see that as a reasonable response to the machine-gunning of our Sisters of Mercy, frankly. I suppose a better person than me might try to find forgiveness, somewhere in the nobility of the human spirit, for the understandable frustration of the marginalised post-colonial subject who bashed in the IRC car's window with the butt of a cheap machine gun and blew away a nice lady named Shirley who was culturally sensitive and wanted to help the poor. Probably he shot her to death mostly for being female.
Well, he was Taliban; they say they'll do such things, they do them, and if they live, then they do it again. What is the point of forgiveness and dialogue, under such circumstances? The massacre proves, underlines, demonstrates, clarifies and establishes beyond a doubt that the Enemy must be destroyed wherever he is found. Doesn't it?
I could argue with some of the Manichean phrasing. But I don't feel like it.
Update: There seems to be some confusion on the subject in the comment box, so I should clarify that I am not the literatus. He is an old character in these parts, and one I usually argue with. My brief description is "a right-wing bastard sickened unto death with the leftist pieties usual among Canadian writer types".
But while intending no endorsement, I do share an impatience with people who can muster a lot of indignation about "overbroad generalizations" and stereotyping that they can't seem to summon for murdering do-gooding unarmed middle-age women.