49 Degrees: Canadian Pagan Perspectives

Canadian Paganism has a style all its own. Have a look at events, issues, celebrations, people, trends and events north of the border from the eyes of a Canadian Wiccan and Witch.

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What Terrorism Means #AvecQuebec

2017-01-31 00.03.15

Well, looks to me over here across the border in Canada that the American government is having a meltdown.  I feel a bit like a neighbour listening to a domestic dispute in the next house over.  It’s loud.  Things are crashing around.  People are screaming; people are crying.  I want to help, but I don’t know what to do.  Should I call the police?  I don’t think there’s any police I can call!  Should I go over there and knock on the door to protect the people getting injured?  I suppose I can roundly condemn the abusive person who’s starting the fight, but it’s not like my neighbours listened when I tried to convince them not to marry the jerk in the first place, so why do I think they’ll listen to me now?  I’ve done this much; I’ve tried to keep an extra bedroom open in case it’s needed.

One thing I can do is pay attention to what’s going on in my own house.  So meanwhile in Canada, we’re having our own problems.  According to the news, two men went into a Quebec mosque the night before last and shot 25 people at evening prayer.  Six are dead, and five more are in critical condition.

Thanks the gods for the CBC!  As much as people complained that there was no actual breaking news coverage in Western Canada, the CBC were very careful only to release information they actually knew for a fact.  Let’s contrast this with CNN or FOX News for a moment.

Right, ’nuff said.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is our public broadcasting service.  It is a property of the Canadian people, and does not belong to any private individual.  So, while it’s true that it doesn’t have as much random money to throw around as a billionaire-funded network, and therefore its productions aren’t as glossy, neither is it terribly interested in jacking up the ratings.  So unlike corporate news networks who want to keep you watching at the edge of your seats at all costs, CBC does what a news network is supposed to do: it reports the news.  And only the news.  Not political pundits pounding a podium, editorials, or random speculation disguised as news.  Just the facts, ma’am.  Sometimes they make mistakes, and often they support the corporate agenda, but they don’t make any more money whether thousands of people watch or millions of people watch, so they don’t care to report conjecture, rumour, lies, or nonsense, just to make people angry or afraid.

It’s so effective that it keeps other networks in Canada from benefiting from that approach either; which is the real reason that our political debates are so civilized and that we seem so subdued and polite in our own media.  For instance, within a couple of hours of the shooting, a Twitter site deliberately designed to parallel Reuters was claiming that two white supremacists had been identified as the shooters.  That was successfully debunked in about an hour, even though some small independent internet magazines did repeat the story, because CBC just kept soldiering on and not repeating what they could not confirm; which forced the other major Canadian news networks, even the privately-owned Corporate ones, to do the same.

What was most interesting to me, however, was the response to the Prime Minister’s statement, which was issued within a few hours of the shooting.  You can read it here:


Prime Minister Trudeau posted this on his Twitter account, as he’s prone to do.  He’s a modern Western leader and he knows that this means engaging in social media.  Within literally minutes of this being posted, there were dozens of responses from the alt-right; most of them American.  Here’s some quotes:

importing non-Vetted Refugees… we tried to warn you JT.

Oh boy….how awkward for the liberal cuck!

that means its islamic lol

how about you grow a pair and call out islam as a death cult……

the shooters were Muslim, you must be proud?

were they really Muslim?? Oh the timing is sooo ironic, isn’t it? Make America Safe & Great Again!

I did a double-take.  Had they discovered that the shooters were Muslim?  I didn’t see that being released anywhere.  Had I missed something?  I went back and looked; nope, I hadn’t.  I read through the Prime Minister’s statement yet again.  Nowhere did it say anything about the perpetrators being Muslim.  What the hell were these people even talking about?

Then it occurred to me:  Do they think that because the word “terrorist” was used, that this was meant as a synonym for “Muslim?”

By gods, I do believe that this is exactly what they think!  Because the American alt-right has used “terrorist” as a dog whistle for so long, it has actually come to mean that in the American mind!

Don’t you guys remember the 80s, when all the terrorists were white Irish Catholic Christians?  I was still I child, but I remember.  A terrorist isn’t a race, or a faith.  A terrorist attacks a specific, identifiable group to sow fear and dissent.  It isn’t even always based on bigotry; but sometimes it is.  In this case, it is.

But now I understand what the right wing means when they say “terrorist.”  I never did understand before.  I wondered how they thought they were going to wage a war on a tactic?  But that’s not what it means to them.  When they talk about making the world safe from terrorists, they’re asking us all to help them to oppose a particular group of people who look and pray differently because . . . they look and pray differently.  Hmm.  I see.

Alt-right politicians even tried to use this tragedy to justify their policies.  And unfortunately, it’s so pervasive that we Canadians can’t help listening to it, whether we want to or not.  The neighbours are fighting rather loudly.

So there’s one suspect in custody now, and he’s been identified as a white, French Canadian described as having “pro-Le Pen and anti-feminist positions” named Alexandre Bissonette.  So is anyone talking about a right wing conspiracy to radicalize white people against people of colour?  I mean, there was a major shooting in a black church in the U.S. just last year, wasn’t there?  Do you think that the American government will ban white French Canadian nationalists from entering the U.S. now?  Somehow I doubt it.

This is how our Prime Minister reacted to this.  I think that’s pretty much how most of us feel.  We’re shocked and we’re sad.  We recognize terrorists, no matter what race or faith they are or how they’re organized.  We charge them with first degree murder and we lock them up.  And then we emulate our media.  We try to repeat only the facts we know.  We hold vigils.  We cry a lot.  We get angry.  We defend each other.  And then we go back to work and get on with our lives.  Because ultimately, terrorism is designed to force us to change our behaviour to suit a radicalized world-view, and we can’t let them do that.  The truth is that a terrorist of any stripe is just a lunatic with a gun, trying to force us to do what we know is wrong.

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Sable Aradia (Diane Morrison) has been a traditional witch most of her life, and she is a licensed Wiccan minister and a Third Degree initiate in the Star Sapphire and Pagans for Peace traditions. Author of "The Witch's Eight Paths of Power" (Red Wheel/Weiser 2014) and contributor to "Pagan Consent Culture" and "The Pagan Leadership Anthology," she also writes "Between the Shadows" at Patheos' Pagan channel and contributes to Gods & Radicals. Sable is just breaking out as a speculative fiction writer under her legal name, and a new serial, the Wyrd West Chronicles, will be released on the Spring Equinox this year. Like most writers, she does a lot of other things to help pay the bills, including music, Etsy crafts, and working part time at a bookstore. She lives in Vernon, BC, Canada with her two life partners and her furbabies in a cabin on the edge of the woods.


  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer Tuesday, 31 January 2017

    Agree 100% with all this! Except to try to clarify that not all Americans are the gross, abusive assholes that keep speaking up, though I totally get that it must seem so from outside the borders sometimes. Or a lot of the times. Going with your analogy of the house next door, I feel like we live in one of those communal, multi-generational homes where EVERYONE but the rebellious middle daughter and maybe a couple of cousins could see that the guy was no good for her or for anyone, but she married him anyway out of spite for the whole rest of the family because NOBODY UNDERSTANDS HER, NOBODY LOVES HER and she'd show them all. So she married him and now /everyone's/ suffering, and even the daughter is starting to go "okay, maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all," but she's too obstinate to actually admit it. Because she /has/ to be right or her whole (inner) world will fall apart, so she keeps making it out as /they're/ all wrong and her husband knows what's best so let him do his thing.

    The Alt-Right are in the minority, but they're a powerful and violently vocal minority AND they've slowly gotten control of the majority of our government over the past few decades. Violently vocal AND grossly uneducated, where provable facts mean nothing if they don't line up perfectly with what these frightening monsters /believe/. If it doesn't support what they /believe/ to be true, they'll twist it till it does or just outright reject it. (To that one responder: Why don't YOU grow a pair and actually learn something about what you're talking about!)

    Health issues mean that I don't have the physical or mental capacity to really /do/ much to help fight this insanity (day-to-day is enough of a struggle for me when things are perfectly right in the world otherwise), but I sign petitions, share information, give to charities when I can, and cast spells to help bolster the efforts of those who /are/ fighting. Thankfully, there are many. Countless. I just have to hold hope that their efforts will pay off in the end.

    I can't speak much for CNN (only because I don't know), but yes, FOX News needs to quit. That's all my (Republican, Christian) parents watch and it makes me crazy. But I live with them so I hold my tongue to keep the peace in the house. But UGH what I wouldn't give for your CBC!

  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia Tuesday, 31 January 2017

    I love the "middle daughter" analogy. :)

    By speaking up, you *are* doing something. Just keep speaking up!

    And anyone can watch CBC online. http://www.cbc.ca. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer Friday, 03 February 2017

    Oy, late reply.

    Thanks! That's good to hear, to be reminded of.

    Oh, awesome! Thanks for the link!

  • Jamie
    Jamie Wednesday, 01 February 2017

    Thanks for sharing your Canadian perspective on the mosque shooting. I always enjoy reading your stuff.

    It's fascinating to see North American and world news from a non-American perspective. Unsurprisingly, many important stories get buried or distorted by the corporate media here in the USA. Gods, it's like a for-profit Ministry of Truth straight out of "1984".

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