The editorial pages of Canada’s newspapers (and a few in the US) are filled these days with a wide range of opinions on the recent apology and $10.5 Million government payment to Canadian Omar Khadr. Partisan points are being scored on both sides of the issue. To some, Khadr is a terrorist, responsible for the death of U.S. soldier Christopher Speer and the wounding of another. To others, he is a victim of brainwashing who went to war far too young, was subject to despicable conditions as an inmate at Guantanamo Bay, was forced to confess to five war crimes and received absolutely no protection from the Canadian government.
Khadr is an emblem of the messed-up international struggles that have dominated the headlines since the beginning of the century and it seems to me that his story would make a brilliant subject for an opera: political and religious tensions, easy solutions substituting for the real truth, complicated family dynamics and, at the centre, a controversial, tortured, polarizing larger-than-life hero/antihero who has survived war, savage treatment, the court of public opinion and – at age 30 – tries to make sense of life in a country that turned its back on him when he needed it most.
Who will commission such an opera? Who will write it? We wait with bated breath.
- Larry Beckwith