Brussels Attacks: Solidarity With Belgium Today, But What About Tomorrow?

Bruxelles - Brussels - Terrorist Attack - Brandenburg Gate - 3

Solidarity is great. What’s next?

There is a very familiar pattern to all of this.

A bloody Islamist terrorist attack brings carnage and fear to the streets of a major Western city.

Everyone from heads of state to the man next door rush to publicly register their shock and solidarity on Twitter.

Someone inevitably pops up after a few hours to lecture us that there is nothing Islamic about Islamic State, and that we should really be calling them Daesh, or “so-called Islamic State”.

Someone else usually pops up to say something incredibly bigoted or ignorant about all Muslims.

Impromptu shrines appear in a major square of the afflicted city, with candles, chalk drawings and sometimes a bit of impromptu John Lennon.

And the day closes with Europe and America’s major landmarks illuminated to resemble the national flag of the afflicted nation. They’re getting really good at that part now.

Fast forward a day, and plans are well afoot to grant even more powers to the well-meaning but overstretched security services – who were unable to make use of their current extensive powers to thwart the attack – and generally at the expense of our civil liberties. Particularly our rights to privacy and free speech.

Fast forward a month, and we have all moved on. Domestic political concerns, celebrity scandals and daily life have reasserted themselves.

I think we can all agree that we’ve got the public grief, cathartic expressions of solidarity and stern faced authoritarianism down to a fine art at this point.

When are we going to start acknowledging – and maybe even tackling – the root causes?


Bruxelles - Brussels - Terrorist Attack - Le Monde - Cartoon

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5 thoughts on “Brussels Attacks: Solidarity With Belgium Today, But What About Tomorrow?

  1. Clive Lord March 25, 2016 / 12:47 AM

    Root causes. I agree with your take. I will always believe that the reason the LSE did not offer me a place was because I wrote an essay saying that unrestricted immigration (1960 or thereabouts) would militate against assimilation.
    But that is spilt milk. Whatever drives the level of extremism seen in ISIS strongholds is driven by something powerful. Two obvious candidates are levels of inequality and ecological degradation. A world wide Basic income will have a part to play in the former, and is more relevant to the later than appears at first sight, as I try to explain in my blogs

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nigel Sedgwick March 23, 2016 / 12:10 PM

    Well written.

    The only addition I feel able to make is to wonder at the symbolism, in this particular case, of flag-wise illumination in black.

    Best regards


  3. Warren Whitmore March 22, 2016 / 11:59 PM

    Kind of begs the question. How do you deal with the root causes? The only effective answer would involve curbing the civil liberties of Muslims.


    • Samuel Hooper March 23, 2016 / 12:27 AM

      I disagree. While we can never make ourselves completely safe from random terror attacks, home grown Islamist terror is partly a result of a crisis of confidence in Western, small-L liberal values, our failure to express healthy patriotism and pride in our culture, and our blind adherence to multiculturalism at the expense of integration and assimilation.

      When we insist on viewing all cultures as equal and refrain from criticising bad ideas and beliefs out of cringing deference to PC orthodoxy, we encourage sub-communities to grow up adjacent to us yet apart from us. When we don’t insist on adherence to certain basic shared values – the Enlightenment values – we shouldn’t be surprised when a generation of young people (not only in the Muslim community) grow up with no appreciation for them.

      All of these things can be tackled pragmatically by the application of certain social and policy changes, many of them small and none of them involving infringing on civil liberties.

      The foreign policy aspect – and actually defeating ISIS and Islamist terror – is obviously different, and much more intractable. But I strongly believe we could be doing a lot more than simply lighting up our buildings in the colours of the Belgian flag, if only we had the will.


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