Why do so many Americans continue to believe that Canada is the major source of Islamic terrorists and jihadists intent on entering the U.S., asks Rex.

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Rex Murphy Point of View

February 3, 2011

I'm sure I'm with the majority of Canadians when I say that Americans next to us are the finest people on earth. 

But I have a persistent problem with some of their ideas, and a couple of their politicians in particular.  There seems to be embedded in some of the American press, and in the minds of some of their leaders, the arcane notion that Canada is the, or a major, source/ supplier/ origin point of Islamic terrorists and jihadists intent on entering America. 

Now in the days after 9/11 that false idea could be partly excused - everyone was in a welter in those days.   Even the current Boadecia of US Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, before she paid her first visit to Canada  (7 years after the event) was under the delusion that some of the 9/11 terrorists came from here.  That the head of Homeland Security of the enlightened Obama administration did not know so fundamental a detail about the 9/11 hijackers was an astonishing incompetence.

Now, it has been established over and over again, that not one of the 19 hijackers of 9/11 - the greatest terrorist attack ever on the States - came though our country, Canada.

Now a more intelligent, though I fear equally deluded person, Senator Joe Lieberman, said today that he is petrified about the Canadian border.  Senator Lieberman is and I quote, "absolutely alarmed" and further said that our border, Canada's, is providing "easy passage into America by extremists, terrorists and criminals who clearly mean to harm Americans."   And further, that our border is…worse than Mexico's.

Let's have a look at this.  On the southern border, over the years 12 million people have on their own say so crossed, and are living in the States illegally.  Entire states have been pleading with Washington for years to guard that border, shore up that border, stop illegal trafficking - reduce exposure to the criminal gangs and drug dealers now penetrating the US.  These states talk of lawless zones and say their own government refuses them a full measure of protection.

Yet here we have Senator Lieberman going on about the great terrorist "exposure" represented by Canada.  Are 12 million Canadians drifting across the Northern Border?  Is all of Ontario hiding out in Vermont?  Are Canadian drug gangs carrying out decapitations and shooting policemen?  Have there been more than 25,000 people killed in a drug war in Canada?  Is it not more likely a real terrorist wanting to slip into the US would follow the example of 12 million on the massively penetrated Southern border - rather than the comparative solitudes of the northern one?

Alarm over the Canadian border is something of a fetish but a costly one: a distraction from real concerns, and as long as it remains a fixed-though-false preoccupation of some key American public officials, Canadians and Canadian trade will pay an unnecessary price for the cloudy thinking of some of our best friends, the Americans.

For The National, I’m Rex Murphy.