Sirius XM’s Charles Adler drew it to my attention on his radio program.
An octogenarian Roman Catholic priest was slaughtered by Islamic State (IS) subhumans in France, his throat slit at the altar. Adler read the Twitter response of Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion: “Saddened to hear of hostage taking in #Normandy Canada stands together with #France #Rouen.”
Then Adler read the tweet from Jason Kenney, the guy running for the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership while drawing a federal MP’s salary: “A ‘hostage taking resulting in death?’ It was a premeditated terrorist murder: Priest forced to kneel, throat cut.”
Adler wanted to know what I thought about that exchange. So I told him Dion’s words were wholly inadequate. The murder of a frail old priest, in a sanctuary that provides only love and fellowship? That wasn’t merely something to be “saddened” about. It was a disgusting, despicable, diabolic crime. It wasn’t just “sad.” It was Satanic. It was, per Shakespeare, the actual thing of darkness.
So, Adler asked, was Kenney right?
I guess so, I told him. But, I added, “Jason Kenney is full of crap.” In fact, he’s the worst kind of loathsome hypocrite.
Kenney, when he was somewhat relevant, was often referred to as former prime minister Stephen Harper’s Minister of Everything. At various times he was minister of Employment and Social Development, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Defence. He had armies and tanks at his disposal. He had billions of dollars and thousands of public servants to deploy. He had real power.
But what happened when tough-talking Kenney had the power to do something about terror? On one day, a fanatic carried a gun to the National War Memorial in Ottawa, murdered a soldier, commandeered a minister’s car, drove to Parliament’s Centre Block, shot up the place, and got into a gun battle with guards and cops.
What did Kenney do to prevent that? Nothing. But he certainly tweeted about it from a hiding place. Before Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s family could be properly notified – while the crisis was still unfolding and when the Department of National Defence had declared “there will be no public release of his name or condition until it is certain all information is accurate and the family has agreed to do so” – Kenney’s thumbs tapped out a tweet that disclosed that a soldier, later identified as Cirillo, had been killed.
Ah, the Twitter warrior, I said to Adler. The cyber-combatant. The one who dispenses tough-guy talk from the safety of the sidelines – and occasionally violates DND rules, so as to look like he’s in charge.
Adler was surprised by my total contempt for Kenney and asked why.
Here’s what I said, almost word for word: “I’ve written a lot of words for politicians over the years. So I tend to be skeptical about a lot of things they say. And I’m particularly skeptical about Twitter tough talk. Donald Trump has built a career on Twitter. What matters is what Bill Clinton did [after the Oklahoma City terror attack]: he hunted them down, applied justice, and he put them to death.
“Jason Kenney is full of crap. When he was there, and when he was in a position to do something about terror … he didn’t. I don’t think we should be taking any lessons from Jason Kenney. And, you know, I’m just kind of sick of political people, and a lot of cops, talking tough about this stuff – but, every day, bad things keep happening, like what happened in France. So you know what guys? Maybe you should all get off Twitter and get your heads out of your asses, and maybe you should start doing something different from what you’ve been doing – because your little Twitter wars really aren’t protecting us, the citizens. Because Twitter wars about who can express themselves with a tougher adjective? They’re all crap.”
Adler told me that I should share my words with you and now I have. My advice to political people stands: save your puny “our thoughts and prayers go out to [fill in the day’s victims].” Save your Jason Kenney-style tweets, Twitter warriors.
Get off Twitter and actually do something. Because what you’ve been doing, to date, hasn’t worked – for us, the people you have sworn to protect.
Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator.