The media has been all abuzz the last few days as they have gone back and forth about Justin Trudeau visiting a Wahhabi mosque and clearly supporting terrorism, or at least extremism. After Sun News made this a headline story, everyone picked it up and started talking about it, us included. Who wouldn’t want to write about a federal party leader going to a place U.S. intelligence calls an Al-Qaeda recruiting ground? That’s the kind of story political journalists see in their dreams.
As we figured out later, the story wasn’t really news. Trudeau visited the mosque before it was made public that it had been on the Pentagon’s watch list. Yet the story persists. People still chatter about it over water coolers and in fundraising emails to party supporters. So, here’s how it all went down.
First, Sun News reported that Justin Trudeau supported terrorism by going to the Al Sunnah Al-Nabawiah mosque in his riding of Papineau, in the Montreal area. According to Sun, if courting votes in a mosque in your own riding isn’t evil enough, their connection to terrorism should be sure to piss a few people off. Even better, Ezra Levant speculated that, by praying in the mosque on a separate occasion, Trudeau may have accidentally converted to Islam. He’s a liar and a traitor, just like the Kenyan Barack Obama!
Then, the Liberal leader with newly cut hair decided to respond to this already outrageous story. He said that sometimes U.S. intelligence makes mistakes with their watch list, and that he wanted to go talk to people he disagreed with. The second part of that certainly makes sense, but the first part sounded oddly like him defending a Wahhabi mosque, so the story had new life.
This was still a fringe report for a little while, but then the people who benefit most from Trudeau being a terrorist decided to push the story along. It became a Conservative attack in less time than it took Michael Ignatieff to go back to Harvard. They took to Twitter, fundraising emails, and probably shouting from rooftops to tell everyone how silly Justin Trudeau was for doing that.
— Conservative Party (@CPC_HQ) August 7, 2014
As the Liberals began to get hammered left and right, called everything from Muslim extremist apologists to terrorists, deputy leader Ralph Goodale chimed in with an incredibly important piece of information. Trudeau visited the mosque in March of 2011, before the information that the mosque was on the watch list was made public. Trudeau had no way of knowing and, in theory, had done nothing wrong.
The Conservatives would not give up though. Their attack morphed and adjusted, showing the flexibility of a Cirque Du Soleil performer. The new message is that Trudeau should not be courting votes in mosques that have extremist tendencies, and, since Al-Qaeda and ISIS are Wahhabi organizations, Wahhabi Islam probably fits the bill. More fundraising emails go out to Conservative donors, and everyone is happy.
Except Trudeau’s Liberals. They fight back. Their new message becomes: if this Wahhabi mosque is so bad, why haven’t the Conservatives done anything about it? Also, look how fear-mongering the Conservatives are, using a non-story from 2011 to spread hatred. The Liberals sent out a fundraising email to that effect, so it looks like both parties will make some money on this debacle.
This is like a shootout in an old-school Western, where there is a shot every few minutes, but nobody ever seems to draw blood. They’re just shooting so you think they look cool.
So here we stand. After days of hearing about whether or not we should care that Justin Trudeau went to a particular mosque in 2011, all we know is that Justin Trudeau went to a particular mosque in 2011. The only thing that has changed is that each party probably has a bit more money than they did before. Win/win, right?