Monday, November 16, 2015

Terrorism and the Ignorant Mind–The Other Soft Target

To deny that human beings are filled with anti-social passions betrays a denial of reality and a lack of self-awareness. One has to be taught nonsense for a great many formative years to believe it. - Dennis Prager

Political correctness is about denial, usually in the weasel circumlocutory jargon which distorts and evades and seldom stands up to honest analysis. - George MacDonald Fraser

I think the greatest illusion we have is that denial protects us. It's actually the biggest distortion and lie. In fact, staying asleep is what's killing us. - Eve Ensler

How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him. - Frank Herbert

<< Yeah, I liked all 4 of them … sorry :-) >>

As the world continues to sort through the terror of Friday’s attack in Paris, with mourning, anger, fear, revenge and every other feeling sweeping over and through many people around the world, there is another interesting element developing.

It is the exposure of the uninformed mind, the mind that makes choices based on emotion and not data and then feels emboldened to step on anyone who dares to disagree.

A couple of examples ….

The press is reporting today that the mother of the three of the suicide bombers claims that her son did not intend to hurt anyone, even though he was wearing a bomb belt, was armed with an AK-47 and was with other individuals equipped in a similar way who had stated intentions to kill people.  When I shared the article (which is here Suicide bomber 'blew himself up because of stress', says Ibrahim Abdeslam's family), people on social media told me that it was clear that I didn’t have children (which is incorrect) because if I had children I would understand the mother’s statement.  Some people went on to tell me that I was wrong when I stated that the data implies that he entered the situation with intent to hurt people and they concluded by saying that we should sympathize with the mother and the bombers.

I don’t know about you but if I walked down a street in any major city in the western world wearing a bomb belt and carrying an assault rifle, I can’t imagine any police force assuming I was out for a day in the sun.

And whether or not he recanted once everything started is something only he will ever know as he died in the event.

What was interesting in the interaction with all of the people, some in public messages and some in private ones (the latter being examples of the lack of courage to share their venom publicly lest someone see them for who they are) is that they were so passionate about it.  In essence, the mother was right, they were right and I was wrong when the argument itself was irrelevant and doesn’t change the result.  None of us with the exception of the mother are even connected to the event but the passion and emotion of the uninformed and misdirected was drawing them into a fight not worth fighting and more dangerously, was inviting them to take a semi-defensive, semi-supportive stand in support of the terrorists.

Meanwhile ….

Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan recommended to Primer Minister Trudeau via a tweet (and attached letter) that “refugee initiative cannot be data / quota driven. Safety must be priority”.  The tweet is here (image of it is below).

Premier Wall tweet

He didn’t say no to refugee admission – he said we need to apply appropriate levels of prudence as we honor our Canadian tradition of helping those in need.  Whether this is purely political, is meant honestly or is a combination of both, I agree with executing prudently while helping those in need and so I tweeted the Premier that I agreed with his prudent statement and position..

John Riche apparently took umbrage over my support (as if I matter at all) and immediately began to taunt me over what “I was afraid of”.  Mr. Riche is a businessman in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland according to his Twitter profile:

John Riche bio

His opening taunt to me is a tried and true technique for bullies and intimidators who use emotion over data in an effort to accomplish their objectives.  While most “normal” people wouldn’t argue with prudence as long as we honor our obligation to serve others, the misguided and uninformed have a translation problem – either what they read gets distorted before it enters their brain OR the translation arrives in their brain correctly and they intentionally, wilfully and forcefully argue using an invalid representation of it.

After a few exchanges, where Mr. Riche cited irrelevant data such as American refugee studies showing no terrorists were amongst them (which has nothing to do with the present situation, is not entirely true as presented and is an irrelevant position within the context of Canadian immigration) and where he again demanded to know what I was afraid of, I told him to go lead by example, adopt a refugee into his home and then lecture the rest of us to do more.

John Riche tweet

My response

He disappeared after this but out of curiosity, I wondered who this was who had attempted a courage-less drive-by tweeting and so I took a look at his Twitter stream.  It proved to be informative as to the MO of the individual.

A tweet that he issued (not a retweet of someone else) stood out.  Here it is – incredibly disrespectful to a Premier – original tweet here unless he deletes it and image below:

John Riche tweet

It appears to me that insulting and taunting is his MO and that discussing things rationally, calmly and using data within the context of our present situation is not something that is of interest to Mr. Riche.  Frankly, not only would I never issue such a tweet, I would fear that issuing such a tweet to a public official would get me put on a watch list of some kind.

It also reflects poorly on organizations that he works with.  I can’t say I would want to do business with anyone who shares such opinions in this way lest I be on the receiving end of such ignorance in a business context.

The Bottom Line

While I’m not picking on Mr. Riche, the interaction I had with him highlights an important problem that we have in the western world.

How do we EVER hope to solve the problems that affect us collectively if, when differences of opinion occur, we attempt to solve them in this way, with the winner being the loudest or the person who wields the most heavy-handed communication.  I wonder also if Mr. Riche would have the courage to say the same thing while standing right in front of Premier Wall.

Civil, rational, data-centric, fact-focused dialog is essential to solve the difficulties of the world including terrorism.  The world is a beautiful place and human beings have phenomenal potential but there are some stupid, dangerous and ugly problems present that require a lot of dialog amongst a lot of great people in order to make those problems go away.

We will all live or die together on this lump of rock floating through space and so we all have a say in what happens here.  In addition to our opinions, we also have gifts, talents and strengths that can and must be brought to bear to make the world a better place.

When invited to share your mind and your ideas, bring your passion to the table as well as passion can prove to be a great motivator and convincer.

However, don’t use your passion as a hammer, otherwise you may discover that few people care about what you say ……

…. and someone may bring a larger hammer to the table.’'

And in some cases, you may merely be putting the Twit in Twitter in an ignorant, cowardly way that doesn’t bring us closer to bringing the world into alignment with its potential.

In service and servanthood,


For a little fun, I offer this whimsical piece for those who love to troll others. :-)


  1. So, I get that a very very low percentage of refugees brought into the United States have been terrorists. Here's the deal, though. Last week Paris gets attacked by ISIS, who has a headquarters in Syria. Now, people are concerned about bringing in 10,000 refugees from Syria into the U.S, and they're being called "xenophobes." Figuring out a name to call someone you disagree with doesn't win the argument. It means you've bowed out of the argument, most likely because you can't effectively argue your side (or are too lazy to). It's reasonable to have concerns and ask questions about things like this, especially when you think your family and loved one's safety is at stake. It's not reasonable to belittle people with concerns and questions because you fancy yourself more high-minded than them. This goes mostly out to liberals and unfortunately some my own brethren in the libertarian community. I'm glad you've already processed all this and your moral compass is so advanced that you have already come to the right conclusions, but some of us are simply not as enlightened as you and need some time. ;-)

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Nathan. I agree with you - we need calm, rational, respectful dialog in order to collaboratively work towards our potential!

      Create a great day!