Toronto van tragedy bonds city in blood. But no one will say the word ‘terrorism’

Source: The Star

How naive we have been, whistling by the graveyard as carnage was wrought in European and American cities, Rosie DiManno writes.

A sneaker. A purse. A tiny backpack. A cellphone.

Personal possessions scattered along the path of a rampaging, careering white van, the maniacal and homicidal man at the wheel purposefully mowing down pedestrians.

Heartbreaking artifacts now of a weaponized vehicle attack.

And the bodies. My God, the bodies.

Two near a pharmacy south of Finch, one at Yonge and Empress, one close to Parkview.

A trail of blood and wreckage stretching from Finch to Sheppard on a sunny spring afternoon in Toronto.

A day when apparent random terrorism struck in this city.

Any fanciful notion that we are far away from the dogs of war unleashed, from the seething corners of the world where hatred fulminates, buffered from European capitals, from American metropolises where mayhem has been inflicted down through these recent years — that comforting thought died on Monday.

Toronto van tragedy bonds city in blood. But no one will say the word ‘terrorism’
Along with the 10, at least, killed in a mass murder, and the 15, at least, injured, ambulances racing to hospitals and sirens blaring.

An abomination of a day.

How naive we have been, whistling by the graveyard as carnage was wrought in Manchester, in Nice, in Paris, in Orlando, in London, in Madrid, in Toulouse, in Barcelona, in Istanbul, in Berlin, in Stockholm, in Boston. On and on in this new normal. When it’s not guns and makeshift bombs, it’s knives and axes and the thousands of pounds of lurching vehicle steel. Into a promenade crowd, into a Christmas market, into a pop concert, into the subway.

When it’s not a clash of civilization ideology or the desecration of a religion, it’s the madness of a nihilist shooter bristling with assault weapons — Las Vegas, Parkland, Sandy Hook, nursing a grudge.

Maddened or mesmerized or mentally ill. And how can you even sift the difference anymore?

On Monday, the horror rose on its hind legs in Toronto, up onto the sidewalk along the city’s main artery, the pulsing core of North York.

The bedlam began around 1:10 p.m., the van racing helter-skelter, banging into bus shelters and fire hydrants, mailboxes and benches, but mostly, according to stunned witnesses, mounting the curb and dead-aiming at people. Young people, including students. Old people, basking in rare April warmth.

Hours later, in ghastly scenes along the miscreant’s route, lifeless bodies still lay on the ground, tarps thrown over them.

How many fearful families, unable to reach loved ones, must have scoured those photographs of victims, straining to recognize a shoe, a hoodie, an outstretched arm. Please don’t let it be, don’t let it be …

And the countless many who saw it unfold, from the driver of a TTC bus who raised the first alarm, to other motorists who slammed on their brakes to avoid colliding with the erratic van, to scores of pedestrians jumping out of the way, running for their lives.

“I thought someone had a heart attack,” one driver who found himself close to the van told CP24. “Oh my God. Oh my … it wasn’t a heart attack. This person was intentionally doing this, he was killing everybody. I’m going to be sick … I stopped at Empress, he was just going on …one after the other, all the way down to Yonge and Sheppard, I seen people get hit, one by one … They went down one after another. An old lady, crumpled. I seen a stroller split in half … flying in the air. Ah man, I can’t believe this. Oh my God. The most gruesome … a woman’s leg … blood all over. Ah man, ah man.”

Read further

Suggested reading

Should Terrorism be Defined by Religion?

‘Terrorism’ — the indefinable word

The Root Cause of Terrorism: An Unholy Thought

2 replies

  1. Thanks God the driver is not a Muslim, otherwise, he would be a terrorist. Now he is going to be called mentally ill person. Double standard by the so called civilised West. The IRA was a TERRORIST organization who bombed schools full of children, massacred innocents and put bombs in busy London subway stations …oh, and they were all “devout” Roman Catholics … many Catholics were blamed for this and generalized as terrorists? ..I’m just saying.

    We do not hold Norwegian Christians responsible for the actions of the fascist Andres Breivik, whose 2011 rampage left 77 dead. We do not hold white people collectively responsible for Timothy McVeigh, the US neo-Nazi whose 1995 Oklahoma City bomb killed 168 people, or for David Copeland, the former BNP member who planted bombs across London in 1999. Nor should anyone suggest that all Muslims are collectively responsible for yesterday’s attack.

    The true honest practicing Muslims were all absolutely shocked and remorseful about what happened in Westminster, Manchester,London Bridge and Barcelona. This is a huge tragedy and a loss for all as humanitarians. This is so sad. Muslim community unconditionally condemns and repudiates the bombings that took place in Boston and brutal killing of a British soldier. We share the pain of fellow Americans and Brits and express our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed or injured in this vicious attack. The killing of innocents can never be justified. And, it is our hope that the perpetrator(s) of this horrible act soon be apprehended and brought to justice. There is about 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and how many commit atrocities like this? And last time I checked the Aurora shooter’s and the Sandy Hook shooter’s religious beliefs were not publicized and connected to their acts. Religion is only an important factor when its not Christian.

    Prejudice against Islam in the West developed due to historic rivalry of Christianity against Islam. The defeat of Christians by the Muslims in Crusades was a big shock for the Christian world. These deep wounds are still so fresh in the Christian world today that the parents, media, politicians and teachers feel it a duty to nurture the feelings of prejudice against Islam in the hearts and minds of their young generations. According to Runnymede Trust, Britain has become “an institutionally Islamophobic” society in which Muslims are demonised. Hostility towards Muslims is still a major problem and is not being taken seriously enough by race relations bodies. According to Dr. Richard Stone, there is now renewed talk of a clash of civilizations, a new global cold war, and mounting concern that the already fragile foothold gained by Muslim communities in Britain is threatened by ignorance and intolerance. According to John Gieve of the Home office, Islamic extremism might be a “symptom of disaffection”. The same disaffection previously surfaced during the riots that shook Oldham and Bradford in 2001.

    The hatred of Islam and Muslims reaches such peaks that it presides over the strangest, most radical political about-face, sometimes. So, the nationalist far right now often presents itself as feminist (to better bash Muslims on gender equality) but also as pro-gay rights (to bash Muslims on their supposed homophobia) and even animal rights activists (to better justify banning ritual slaughter) etc. etc. etc.

    How are we defining Terrorism here? Does the terrorism of the U.S. armed forces dropping death from above via drone count? In the United States more people have been killed by vending machines since 9/11 than by ‘Terrorists’ Let’s have some perspective. The deaths from ‘terror’ pale into comparison if you compare them to the annual fatalities from agricultural accidents, road deaths and the yearly population cull that America gives itself for failing to have proper gun control legislation. The US military are the real terrorists here. When the word religion is mentioned, in 99.9% of cases it is a euphemism for Islam. George Bush repeatedly claimed to be fighting for God and never missed an opportunity to use God and religion to justify his actions, we can see Israeli politicians/terrorists using religion to justify their actions daily – Islam doesn’t have a monopoly on violent, murdering scumbags. The west created the instability in most of these countries that are severely affected by terrorism. We should probably be sorting it out. Should the shooting of children by an occupying force be classed as terrorism? Is the destruction of olive groves by settlers economic terrorism? What, exactly, constitutes terrorism?

    How can you expect to combat terrorism when most terrorist organisations are the creation of US? ISIS, Al-Qaida were founded and financed by the US to create wars that the US needs in order to “democratise” countries. Al comes with a price. Some pay with their lives, some pay cash…The stakes revolve around the control of resources, energy and consumer markets… A lot of these terrorist groups wouldn’t exist if the US hadn’t spent the last 30 years encouraging, funding and arming them as proxies in the region. The US record on picking the ‘good guys’ is appalling and a lot of the problems of the Middle East are directly attributable to their crack handed meddling over the years.

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