Editorial roundup

The Providence Journal (R.I.), April 2

Does Canada really believe that it’s not at war with ISIS?

Justin Trudeau, the country’s Liberal prime minister, seems to feel this way. Shortly after the Brussels terrorist attack, he told the media, “A war is something that can be won by one side or the other and there is no path for ISIL to actually win against the West.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion made a similar assessment. He said, “If you use the terminology ‘war,’ in international law it will mean two armies with respecting rules and it’s not the case at all.”

Considering how strongly Trudeau’s Conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper, supported the war on terror, the current government’s quibble over terminology is surprising.

The bloodthirsty leaders of ISIS, who have formed armies in the Mideast, hate Western values such as democracy, liberty and freedom with a passion. They have reportedly used chemical weapons, imposed Sharia, tortured and executed Syrians and Iraqis, beheaded people, raped women and turned children into soldiers and sex slaves.

Trudeau and Dion are surely aware of some or all of these atrocities and war-related crimes. They must realize what the terrorist group’s modus operandi is, irrespective of terminology.

By contrast, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, just after the terrorist attack on Brussels, made this short, direct and powerful comment about the state of our world: “We are at war.”

Valls argued that “we have closed our eyes throughout Europe, and also France, on the progress of extremist ideas.” His eyes are now wide open — and he realizes we’re at war against ISIS and all other terrorist groups who threaten our safety and security. The use of the word “war” implies that our side will fight back.

Perhaps the French prime minister could instruct his Canadian counterpart about the nature of the war the West confronts, and the threat posed by terrorism.

Online: http://bit.ly/1W0Ml9z

The Valley News (N.H.), March 31

The National Rifle Association has long specialized in fairy tales. Our favorites include “Obama is coming for our guns”; “Universal background checks will lead to a national gun registry”; and the classic “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Now, however, the NRA has taken this affinity for the fantastic to a whole new level. The New York Times reports that the group is publishing online a series of reimagined fairy tales in which central characters “are now packing heat.” Indeed, the first two in the series — Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun) and Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns) — are available on the NRA Family website, alongside such useful consumer guides as “9 Concealed-Carry Purses for Summer and Spring” (“The weather is changing and so should your purses. Here’s our list of concealed-carry accessories, purses and bags you need to match your colorful, fun and fast summer lifestyle.”)

Anyway, the Brothers Grimm (the originals, not the Kochs) have been rewritten by Amelia Hamilton, who is identified on the website as a conservative blogger and “a lifelong writer and patriot.” In its introduction to the page, the NRA asks readers whether the fairy tales read to them as children ever made “them rest a little bit uneasy,” and whether they have ever wondered what those stories might sound like if the hapless victims had been armed. We suspect that for the vast majority of people, the answer to the first query is “yes,” and to the second, “certainly not.” Then again, the nightmares that trouble our sleep tend to be more complicated than specters of government agents seizing our firearms.

In any case, in the NRA version, the Big, Bad Wolf more than meets his match in Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, armed with a rifle and a shotgun respectively and equipped with knowledge of how to use them. As Hamilton tells it, the classic exchange “What big teeth you have!”; “The better to eat you with” concludes a colloquy between Grandma and wolf, after which the latter leans in menacingly, jaws wide open, only to be stopped dead in his tracks by the sound of Grandma clicking off the safety on her shotgun, which she has surreptitiously retrieved during their exchange.

Not surprisingly, taking liberties with the Brothers Grimm has incensed some interested parties, and not on literary grounds. Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, denounced the stories as “a disgusting, morally depraved marketing campaign,” especially in light of the fact that 50 children and teenagers are shot each day in the United States. Presumably the NRA rebuttal to this would be that fewer kids would get shot if more kids could shoot back, but Gross’ point is well taken.

But the NRA’s effort does inspire us to indulge in a fairy tale of our own imagining. In this one, the next mass slaughter of innocents by a deranged shooter is followed not by NRA lamentations that it all could have been prevented had the victims only been armed and returned fire, but by a honest conversation about what sensible measures might rein in the reign of terror inflicted by indiscriminate gun violence in America.