Terrorism happens when a person or group feels so righteous that they are willing to surrender any sense of morality and ethics, resorting to violence to make their point. It is a twisted, psychological descent that is as mysterious as it is terrifying. However, one thing is certain, a terrorist isn't born overnight. A person doesn’t just snap and turn to terrorist violence. They grow and evolve in a climate of hate that becomes ‘normalized.’
This is part of the message that CSIS Director David Vigneault delivered when speaking at the University of British Columbia recently. His point of reference was not some far off terrorist cell in a foreign land. Instead, he was referring to the emergence of hate-filled rhetoric on social media and other online platforms. While he didn’t specifically speak about terrorism that day, he did say Canada does need to be on guard against the normalization of hate and how rhetoric can inspire violence.
Canadians should be wary of the current climate that sees hateful rhetoric simply dismissed as 'crazy.' They should be more vigilant in challenging things said in a spirit of division and derision in the hopes of stemming the descent toward extremism. Vigneault is warning our nation: it starts with rhetoric and, if left unaddressed, could lead to violence. In this case the violence could come in the form of domestic terrorism.
Let's hope Vigneault's warnings are just the vigilant perspective of the country's top spy caught up in a world of perpetual threats.
As I begin the research for my next novel, I have two book reviews to share. Both deal with the topic of cults. You can find both reviews on my GoodReads page. The storyline of my next novel will involve Declan Keenan and Karuna Patel doing battle with a cult operating out of a retreat centre north of Toronto.
The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn
Guinn's exhaustive account of the Jonestown tragedy (from the birth of Jim Jones to his tailspin into madness and death) is the most comprehensive history you will read on the topic. It follows a linear storyline from start to finish with all the pertinent details. While Jones is described as always being a little bit off, his mission to fight for racial equality and bring relief to the disenfranchised is not lost on Guinn. Ultimately, the idealism of these imperatives gets lost as Jones slips into megalomania, perhaps exacerbated by his drug addiction. The Road to Jonestown is certainly worth the read. Like any cult book, there are times where the content is tough to digest/comprehend/understand, which meant I walked away from reading many times. In the end, I powered through and was grateful for completing the tragic tail Jeff Guinn was able to pull together.
Don't Call it a Cult by Sarah Berman
A disturbing account of NXIVM. I have to admit that I found the book frustrating at times, not because of Berman's writing, but because of the things the people involved in this group were doing. Berman's book shows the vulnerability of intelligent people to fall for someone (or a group) that claims to have the answers to life's most fundamental questions. Once NXIVM pulled these people into their web, they could get them to do just about anything.
Sean Patrick Dolan's Blog
Sean Patrick Dolan is the author of the thriller, My Father's Secret, inspired by the Air India Bombing.