The Moral Dimensions.
On Easter Sunday, 2007, Pte. Kevin Kennedy was killed in Afghanistan. Today in Kandahar, at an Easter ceremony for the families of fallen soldiers, Kevin's father Myles said this: "If you look at our history, we always went in with strong moral causes, and we went in to do a job. Our job will not be complete if (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) pulls out the whole group. We have to maintain some type of military presence for security . . . to let the world know that we haven't really abandoned this mission."
Said Theresa Charbonneau, whose son Cpl. Andrew Grenon died in September, 2008: "One hundred forty-one lives have been lost. The journalist has been lost. The diplomat has been lost. I don't want their deaths to be in vain. I don't want to see (Afghanistan) collapse. If by staying longer we can help that not happen . . . I would like to see that."
After their spectacular display of academic incompetence, pathological narcissism and ahistorical gibberish-mongering last month, a gaggle of University of Regina professors are now presenting themselves as persecuted truth-to-power speakers. It's just too faint-making for them, now that people have noticed how stupid they are, politicians have had the audacity to disagree with them and people on the internet are saying mean things about them and sending them emails containing hurtful four-letter words. Their initial protest was that a university scholarship program for the children of fallen soldiers was "a glorification of Canadian imperialism in Afghanistan and elsewhere. . . a dangerous cultural turn" that "erases the space for critical discussion of military policy and practices." Now they're trying to pretend that they merely meant the program was redundant, and that everyone is being beastly to them, so they're rallying their friends to defend them against "mindless verbal violence."
. . .The school is funded with $10,000 a month from the Canadian government and a private Canadian sponsor. Canadian forces are responsible for Kandahar. Ullah has also set up a free internet cafe for women only, believed to be the only one of its kind in Afghanistan. There are regular threatening phone calls and “night letters” dropped off under cover of darkness by the Taliban. “One of them phoned and said if I didn’t quit my job and close the school, ‘We will boil your children’,” he recalled. “It’s barbaric. Barbaric.”
. . . The young women at the school are evidently his life’s work. They are so full of hope, so free of cynicism as they talk with shining eyes about their visions of the future. But they also worry about reports that President Hamid Karzai’s government will enter negotiations with the Taliban, fearing the few gains that women have made may yet be lost. “These are such very hard times. We’re afraid history will be repeated,” said Yelda. “The Taliban will never change. But we’ll keep trying to build our country and give ourselves a future.”
I was on Rex Murphy's Cross-Country Checkup today. So was Bob Rae, the Liberal Party's foreign affairs critic, whose declaration that Canada must re-dedicate itself to Afghanistan was a delight to hear, as I'm sure Laurie Hawn will agree. Richard Gordon of Books With Wings called in, as did the indispensable David Burcuson, and we also heard from Cheshmak Farhoumand-Sims, who was tremendous. Only a couple of the usual stoppist crackpots called in, but that's always a good thing. They ridicule themselves perfectly well every time they open their mouths, saving the rest of us the trouble.
The people will win.