E-letter: We can work this out

The National Post yesterday featured Michael McCain, the c.e.o. of Maple Leaf Foods, calling out U.S. President Trump as “the narcissist in Washington,” while blaming him for the Iranians’ shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

From a journalist’s perspective, this is problematic. First and foremost, our culture has become enamoured of death and sorrow. When I went to school, the protocol was that you didn’t photograph people in their dying moments, and you didn’t stuff a camera in the faces of the grieving so you could get an emotional kick. Now, we have even stooped to running what sane people would call “snuff films:” videos of people in the last, desperate moments of their lives. Journalism has changed. Right and wrong have not.

Kerry Knudsen

Can you decipher what the Post’s motives were in the story? It’s complex, and I’m not certain I have nailed it, but there is nothing inherently qualified in the foreign policy observations of an employee of a meat packer. In this case, it may be that he is wealthy, powerful and is saying something about politics that the reporter wishes to capture en passant. That would be churlish, eh?

Clearly, McCain is grieving the loss of close associates and their families, but that is not a compelling reason to stick a camera in his face, either, for the reasons noted. We are not at the height of our rationality when we are grieving.

Logically, to blame Trump for Iran’s actions is not logical, at all. Right off the bat, correlation does not prove causality. Secondly, Iran has a long, long history of affronting the international community, including American presidents, so it’s hard to suggest it was Trump unless you just hate Trump and want to pillory him for Iran, WWII and the weather.

I am not fond of our own Prime Minister. However, I was proud to see him address the issue on TV. He was serious, steel-eyed and uncompromising. Those are qualities that cross boundaries of time and culture, and I assume Iran got the message. Kudos, Mr. Prime Minister.


However, the situation brings up a larger issue in my mind. Not to diminish the magnitude of the shoot-down of a non-aligned civilian aircraft, but Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, used the occasion to say the reason for the current turbulent situation in our region is the corruptive presence of the U.S. and its cohorts.

We have heard this rhetoric before, right? But we always dismiss it. Maybe it’s time for a closer look.

It seems clear there is a faction in the Middle East that sees America and the West (Canada, for example) as “the Great Satan.” Funny, eh?

But not really. Consider for a moment that the Iranian, ISIS, al Q’aida and other regimes/movements really, actually, believe that the West is Satan. They would not exactly be alone. I would guess it’s a rare Pentecostal or Baptist congregation that does not have at least a few members that think the same. This is not news.

However, when Iran takes that message to the airwaves and then backs it up with clips from our own media, it may seem as if they have hit the motherlode. This starlet goes topless for whatever, and that one has a see-through dress. This one is daring in a bikini; that one embraces plus sizes in lingerie….

Meanwhile, Canada has home-rolled its very own drug-abuse hierarchy, from legalized pot to mass imports of fentanyl and opiates to making meth by home-brew and making home-brew jail juice from fruit cocktail. The Ayatollah frowns on such things in others.

Then there is the matter of “non-binary sexuality.” We in the West insist that we will punish anybody that strays from the government line on the acceptability of non-binary sex, yet we are horrified when the mullahs set the line and punish with abandon. It does not matter what you or I think; we need to try and recognize there are beliefs and the mullahs practice them.

I am a big fan of the Bible. Not everybody is. Many think it’s the remaining vestiges of a myth system practiced by a few bronze-age nomads in … the middle east.

Irrespective of whether you “believe” in the Bible, though, you need to believe it is there, it is real and it has been around for a long time. As such, at minimum, it is the historical record of a belief system from as long ago as people could write.

Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all from the same origin. They are called Abrahamic religions, since they all emanate from a guy named Abraham. Part of the Abraham story is told in the biblical book of Isaiah. Here is a peek:

16 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing [as] they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:

17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.…

24 And it shall come to pass, [that] instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; [and] burning instead of beauty.

25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.

26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she [being] desolate shall sit upon the ground.

There are lots more. So, tossing away the idea that this is the Bible, and saying it’s just a myth, we are still faced with the fact that something was going on back then, about 2,000 B.C. Maybe in the year 2020 B.C. something happened that inspired people not only to write repeatedly about sobriety, wanton sex and homosexuality, but to preserve those manuscripts when many other have been lost.

All this is true, so when the mullahs decide to use western entertainment as evidence against the oldest and most closely held ideal of some of the oldest and most-revered religions, we actually have not made much of a defence beyond military.

Therefore, the clerics say we are Satan, and we respond by launching missiles, drones, night fighters, helicopters and special ops.

From an overall public relations perspective, this may not be optimal.


I am not about to make excuses for radical Islam. It’s against my nature. However, I also mentioned last summer that my property line is in the middle of the Credit River in southern Ontario. And I mentioned my irritation when women come floating down the river, bare-breasted in front of God and everybody, exercising some sense of “rights” in front of my grandchildren. I am all about boobs and seem to look every time they are presented, whether I want to or not. Could be that’s what inspired Isaiah. I also learned in school that my rights to free speech do not extend beyond the rights of others. “You cannot” conventional wisdom says, “shout ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theatre.” My back yard is off limits.

I don’t think we can necessarily compromise with the mullahs or debate them into seeing Western. On the other hand, Jews, Christians and Muslims co-existed for centuries before this latest outbreak. Yes, I know about the Crusades, the Ottoman Empire, the Jewish State, and all that. On the other hand, you may not know that a string of sultans demanded Jewish doctors as their personal physicians. We would like to think they say value in the Jews’ superior knowledge, but the fact is that Islam forbade the killing of a true believer’s family as retribution, and they could do that to Jews, so they had a loyal practitioner with skin in the game.

Back to seriousness, there are lots of Muslims that can live with others. One of the men that got me started in business was Iranian. Of course, he was a refugee from the current regime, but he is Iranian and a Muslim. We can work this out.

The problem is, if we have the people in control of communication trying to get their thumbs on the scale, worship people with money and dictate terms to the general public, we are not likely to get to the negotiating table, either sooner or later.

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