Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Brussels

This time, it was Brussels, another suicide bomb attack in an airport and a subway station. 30 killed, hundreds wounded. The bombs contained nails, we were told. There's a video showing terrified travelers cowering behind their luggage. There are grisly photographs of the carnage and one grainy one of the bombers walking through the airport minutes before the detonation. I stared at it for several minutes, wondering what must have been going through their minds at such a moment. Were they afraid? Ecstatic at the prospect of their virgins? Or simply ablaze with religious zeal, delirious at the thought of administering judgement on the infidels?

The President of France made a statement. Something about how an attack on Brussels was an attack on all of Europe. Our President inserted a 51 second diversion from his prepared remarks in Cuba to express solidarity with the Belgian people. Later, during remarks to an ESPN reporter at a baseball game, he mentioned how this latest attack was another reminder of how the world needed to stand together against terrorism and violence. Some commentator mentioned NATO and the words of it's charter which require us, the U.S. to respond militarily. Another pundit mentioned that these types of attacks seem to target European cities rather than American one's of late. Yet another spoke of the symbolism and propaganda victory it was for ISIS to pull off an attack in the literal capital of the European Union and headquarters of NATO.

Our Presidential candidates held to form. Donald Trump immediately called for tighter control of our border and tightened immigration. Hillary Clinton immediately dispatched a Tweet declaring that "Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism." I would have thought that this Tweet might have sounded less rediculously clueless had she used the modifier..."most,". 

The European commentariat took to drawing touching cartoons of weeping Belgians being comforted by their empathetic EU brothers. The Eiffle Tower was lit up in Belgian colors last night. Soon, hashtag campaigns will sprout up like daffodils in April. My Facebook feed will become festooned with the Belgian flag. We will all become Belgian for a week. Then we will go back to our lives and wait for the next great city of western civilization to be besieged. Who will it be? Prague? Berlin, Budapest, Barcelona? Munich, Madrid, Valencia? Whoever it turns out to be, we can be relied upon to express solidarity with the victims, and to pledge to do whatever it takes to wipe out the scourge of international terrorism from the face of the earth.

That, and a couple of lira might buy you a cappuccino in Valencia.