Saturday, July 07, 2007

Pretending he just doesn't see

I was listening to some 60’s protest songs tonight (don’t ask). Musically they present a nice picture. Peace and love. Who can argue with that? But for all the noble aspirations (and their aspirations were noble), they had no clue on how to achieve it. Nor did they have any clue on how the world really works. They came (mostly) out of middle-class America, which gave them the money to indulge in recreational drug use. They grew up in a stable society (except insofar as they decided to destabilize it) which allowed them to condemn their own government as repressive. They had no personal contact with repressive dictatorships, and so they thought violence would disappear through good intentions. They had a strong economy, which supported them as they denounced capitalism. Let’s be clear. They had real concerns, and in one particular case they achieved a real and glorious victory (making the world sit up and recognize discrimination again blacks). But while their concerns were often valid, on the whole they just had no clue.

Listen to the words of Joan Baez. “How many years must some people exist before they’re allowed to be free? And how many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn’t see?” Sung with her rough and unaffected voice, these words can bring tears to your eyes. But it’s not just the political left that can adopt these words, because as much as the left might not appreciate me saying it, these words explain why my country has soldiers fighting and dying in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has nothing we could want. We don’t seek an empire. We’re not there to exploit their wealth. We are not controlled by a military-political complex. I know our self-interest is involved, in that we don’t want to be attacked again by terrorists. But while it took an attack on our neighbour (an attack which killed Canadians) to kick us out of our lethargy, we finally decided that we could no longer turn our heads and pretend that we just don’t see. The Afghan people lived under a brutal and repressive regime. And now, at the cost of Canadian blood, they have a chance to be free. The political left might not like our involvement in Afghanistan, and the other Opposition Parties in Canada may feel they can attack the current Canadian government and score a few cheap political points, but we are doing the right thing. I don’t know how it will end, but for now the Afghan people get a chance.


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