Earlier this week, responding to reports that Canadians may have been among the terrorists in the Algerian hostage-taking, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney tweeted that he “can’t begin to understand those who turn their backs on Canada to embrace the death cult of jihadi extremism”. Since he’s the point man on keeping them out maybe he’d better start trying.
I don’t suggest, of course, that he should sympathize with their thinking. Far from it. He’s absolutely right to call it a death cult and kudos to him for saying it out loud. But as Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” And in order to screen for such immigrants in the first place, and to guard against the radicalization of people after they become Canadians (or those who were born here), it is absolutely essential to understand the logic of the appeal fanatics make to potential recruits.
Unless this was a case of politicians using words for their political impact rather than as a guide to their thinking, or a staffer wrote the tweet (which in his case I think is most unlikely), Kenney needs to get hold of some jihadi literature aimed at Westerners pronto. And this paper from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute by Alexandre Wilner (which I helped edit) that outlines some related institutional issues.
Reject the death cult? Absolutely. But understand it. That’s your job. For all our sakes, understand it.