Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Look around and you will find, no one's really color-blind

Even in hypersensitive Canada, some hate crimes are still only worth a bit over three years: The 19-year-old man who sparked the fire that consumed a Jewish school library in Montreal has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for his crime. Sleiman El-Merhebi was sentenced in a Quebec courtroom Tuesday morning. With time served, that means he will spend the next two years in jail. When the United Talmud Torahs elementary school was firebombed in early April, on the heels of a rash of anti-Semitic incidents in Toronto, it drew worldwide condemnation. Last month, El-Merhebi told the court he was driven to the crime by news of Israeli attacks on Palestinians. The arson "was an emotional response," he said. "I was reacting to acts of violence in the Middle East that I saw on television." What is the message El-Merhebi and his lawyer want us to take from this half-assed defense, exactly? I hope it's not that the average Muslim is a reason-free, easily-provoked arsonist in the making, who only needs to catch a glimpse of CNN before being irrationally compelled to set fire to a building owned by Jews. I hope it's not that, if a Canadian Muslim happens to be upset, it's reasonable for his state of mind to consider Canadian Jews fair targets for attack. I hope it's not a slyly pandering attempt to excuse his actions by confirming the worst suspicions of Islam as a vicious, unprincipled political ideology, all too willing to lurk behind civilized society while continuing to plot against infidels. Any of those are the multiculti equivalent of the Twinkie defense, and I'm disappointed in his attorney. The honourable thing to do would have been to admit that, yes, he did it in an attempt to injure, intimidate and destroy the property of Jews. There's no justification possible. There's no explanation needed. If what happens half a world away is enough to drive someone in an open, permissive and generally peaceful and law-abiding society to commit such a hateful act, there can be no possible excuse.

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