The Parliament Hill shooting in Ottawa in late October still fascinates the mainstream press. In a pitiful attempt to draw an analogy between the shooting of a single soldier and the “9/11” attacks on the World Trade Centre, Canadian journalists have followed Harper in proclaiming the shooting “a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.” In a farcical repetition of the 9/11 event, the shooting has been cast as justification for a renewed commitment to imperialism because, as this pathetic logic goes, attacks on Canadian soil must have occurred because the victims of imperialism are irrational and hate our freedom.
All this shooting demonstrates is that the standard for finding moral justification for imperialism has been set rather low since 9/11. Now all we need to convince the patriots of imperialist countries that we must renew our commitment to unpopular wars is a random shooting of a soldier by a homeless drug addict whose affiliation with ISIS is simply asserted by the prime minister after the fact.
Although the shooter, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was a convert to a right-wing variant of Islam, it was clearly an eclectic version of his own invention, a product of social powerlessness that culminated in drug addiction and mental illness. Lashing out at a society responsible for his powerlessness could have taken many forms; his actions were akin to ex-cop Christopher Dorner’s assault on the Los Angeles Police Department over a year ago: a confused action of an individual lashing out against the society responsible for his disempowerment, tragic rather than revolutionary, and justifying this violence according to some ideas picked up online and in the news.
But now, without having established any links aside from Zehaf-Bibeau’s incoherent adoption of Political Islam, we are told that Canada has experienced something akin to the mythologized 9/11 event. Middle class people in Ottawa, encouraged by mainstream media and government speeches, have claimed that they are afraid, forgetting that people are shot all the time in Canadian cities for less spectacular reasons. And what of the daily fear experienced by the victims of imperialism in those countries that Canada has now renewed its commitment to occupy? Or the daily violence experienced by the poor and homeless like Zehaf-Bibeau? Or the constant violence Indigenous peoples have endured since the establishment of Canada?
Unlike the spectre of a lone gunman, a very rare occurrence in this country, the violence of capitalism and imperialism is much more present and concrete reality for the majority of the world’s people. And Canada has cynically used the Parliament Hill shootings to renew its commitment to carrying out and prolonging this violence.