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.
Sean Patrick Dolan's Blog
Sean Patrick Dolan is the author of the thriller, My Father's Secret, inspired by the Air India Bombing.