Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Homeward Bound.

I've been thinking a lot today about Jacob Acaye and Omar Khadr. Why are we full of sympathy for the former, when we villify the latter?

Jacob Acaye is the Ugandan citizen whose story inspired Jason Russell to create the Kony 2012 film and campaign. In the film, 13 year old Jacob mourns his brother's death, and wishes he were dead. Today he is a university student studying law in Kampala. Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay by the United States for actions he undertook at the age of 15. After almost ten years, Omar will be repatriated by May. Hopefully.

Are child soldiers only "victims" if we don't know their family's politics or background? If Kony's Lord's Resistance Army had targeted Americans, would Jacob be imprisoned? Is this a "sins of the father" scenario? Is anyone else uncomfortable with the notion that our government doesn't care when the US violates the rights of Canadian citizens? Is there a two-tiered system of citizenship in Canada? What message is this sending to citizens who are visible minorities? Who is more guilty of child abuse: Omar's father who placed him in a war zone, or the American military interrogators who have mentally and physically abused him?

When I mull over these questions, the picture doesn't change for me. Omar Khadr's parents let him down. The US military let him down. It's time for the Canadian government to stop shirking their obligations and responsibilities and bring Omar home.

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