A beautiful photo on the front page of today’s Washington Post evokes the Flemish masters–two women in white headdresses and black robes lean gracefully towards each other.

The women in this seemingly serene Vermeer are Fatmah Elsamnah and Maha Khadr, grandmother and mother of Omar Khadr, who is being detained at Guantanamo. Here is how the young man ended up there:

“The thundering F-16 and A-10 warplanes reduced the fighters’ compound in Afghanistan to smoldering rubble. No one could still be alive, figured the U.S. soldiers crouched nearby. But inside, saved by a half-standing wall, a lanky 15-year-old waited as the wary soldiers neared.

“As the Americans recount it, he leapt up, threw a grenade and was cut down by the soldiers’ fire. The grenade scored: A 28-year-old sergeant was mortally wounded.

“The boy was not, however. Blinded in one eye, his chest ripped opened by bullets, Omar Khadr lay on the ground and asked the soldiers to kill him — in perfect English. He was a Canadian.

“’Everybody who walked by wanted to put a round in him,’ said Master Sgt. Scotty Hansen, who was awarded a Bronze Star for Valor after the battle in 2002. ’But we all knew that’s not the way we do it.’

“Omar Khadr survived. Today, he is 18, a prisoner at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and an increasingly awkward presence there for the Canadian government. His mother, sister and brother Abdurahman — who was briefly imprisoned with Omar at Guantanamo — have become what Omar’s lawyer calls ’the most despised family in Canada.’

“Abdurahman has publicly declared them to be al Qaeda members. His sister has said they all wished for martyrdom. Family members have spoken scornfully of Canadian society, as they receive medical care and welfare payments that keep them in a pleasant apartment in Toronto.”

Faced with being unveiled, so to speak, as members of al Qaeda, the family harrumphs that they are ready to leave Canada, where, along with the nice welfare payments and pleasant apartment, they seem to have encountered some mean people who have raised their eyebrows:

“’They’ve dubbed us the First Canadian Terrorist Family,’ Omar’s sister Zaynab, 25, said recently in an interview. ’I don’t want to be in a place where I’m not wanted. Give me my passport and I will leave.’ The Canadian government has impounded the family’s travel documents, pending resolution of their case.”

You’d think everybody in Canada would heave a sigh of relief that the government has the family’s passports in a desk drawer, preventing them (at least until after the “resolution” of the situation) from doing any harm in the world. But no:

“[A]s Omar’s confinement at Guantanamo grows longer, he has begun to gain grudging support from constitutional experts and editorial writers. They are pushing the government to demand that the United States either put him on trial or release him:

“’Regardless of how much the Khadr family is despised here, Canada’s lawmakers cannot look the other way when a citizen is held in foreign custody for years, under abusive conditions, and denied due process,’ said an editorial in the Toronto Star in February. ’That makes Ottawa a silent partner in human rights abuse.’”

Why is the intelligentsia inevitably on the side of those who would destroy civilized society in general and the United States in particular? I was going to say that the Post reporter, Doug Struck, at least seems to get the irony of the situation–but why should one be praised for seeing something so obvious?

Well, I suppose because most members of the Mainstream Media are so far gone that they don’t. Ben Stein comments on another example of this phenomenon in the American Spectator:

“If you wanted to see the perfect example of the ethical and moral collapse of the Mainstream Media, you could not do better than a long article in the New Yorker of May 23, 2005. The article is entitled, ’The Spy Who Loved Us.’ Written by a teacher at the University of Albany, named Thomas Bass, it’s about a man named Pham Xuan An. Now very old, An was — among many other things — a correspondent in Saigon during the ’Vietnam War for Time magazine. He was apparently considered a particularly brilliant and well-informed correspondent and very well liked by his colleagues in the Western press corps during the war.’”

An was also a communist spy who reported on the plans of the American troops in Vietnam. But what the heck, right?

“When the war ended, An offered to go to the U.S. and continue spying for the Communists there. The offer was denied and he lives quietly in Ho Chi Minh City, where, among other pets, he keeps fighting cocks — a practice generally considered barbaric in the circles of New Yorker readers, but another sign of his cuteness to Professor Bass. In fact, the whole article is about how cute and smart and clever and brave a guy An is. A lovable, brilliant, brave man who sent Americans and innocent civilians to their deaths. Bass even explains that almost all of An’s former colleagues in the Western press still love the guy after learning he was a spy for America’s enemy in the Vietnam War. They even gave money to bring him here for an auld lang syne visit not long ago.

“In this article, which I would guess to be about 8,000 words or more, there is not one hint, not one whisper, of sympathy for the American soldiers who fought and died or were maimed in Vietnam. Not one sliver of anger at a man who took American money and helped kill Americans. Not a word about the mass murder of civilians during Tet.”