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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Profiling The Kadhrs: This Smacks of Eugenics

Dr. Michael Welner is a forensic psychiatrist, one of many looking for ways to quantify evil.  He has been called to offer testimony on the likes of Luka Rocco and, of course, Omar Kadhr.  This, to be, is more than dubious science, as evil is a linguistic catch-all and not a scientific concept; it's a little too familiar.

Even more disturbing are the connections Welner is making between Kadhr, his father and Osama bin Laden; it doesn't matter what they say, it doesn't matter how they act, they are fundamentally evil and that evil can't be overcome.

If we believe that as a concept, what's the conclusion to be drawn?  That some people, groups of people, perhaps even whole tribes are not suitable for social living.  What do you do when you have people that you don't want around?  You run them out of town.  Or, failing that, you contain them.  When you create a distinct divide between yourself and a perceived other, you permit yourself to stop seeing them as human and remove responsibility on your part to treat them as human.

We're seeing what that looks like in Syria.  We've seen it before - in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, in Nazi Germany.  Simple solutions with finality are never the answers they seem to be on paper.  There's a reason for that - life isn't simple.  Answers aren't simple.  We might prefer them to be, we might even delude ourselves that they are, but simplicity exists in our minds only.

There are psychotic people in the world - people, human beings - who do not have the neuro-psychological capacity for empathy.  They aren't evil, they're limited, just as someone born with any deficit is.  While these folk can be dangerous to society and must be contained, they aren't monsters, any more than a shark is.  Beyond this, the brain is a very plastic organ; with the right training, accommodations and environment, most neurological conditions can be managed.  It's just takes conscious effort on the part of everyone.

This issue isn't about Omar Kadhr - he's a symptom, not a disease, one person that none of us has ever spoken to.  This is about what we are willing to accept as fact on the belief of so-called experts.  We cannot allow for philosophies - for that's all they are - like Werner's to stand unchallenged.  We've seen before what happens when prejudice is justified by science.  It's not a path we want to walk again.

UPDATE - Now, Francois Legault is adding his own piece to the eugenics file, saying Quebec kids should be more like Asian kids.  What's really being asked is, what motivates behaviour?

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