I think all sane people can agree that terrorism is horrific beyond words, particularly when it is indiscriminate and random. At this point, most of us that are objective about it realize who the main perpetrators are and are cognizant of their twisted motivations. The US government’s response to these despicable acts are a matter of record. Each of you can decide for yourself whether or not you agree or disagree with current US policy and how to resolve the situation. The purpose of this blog is not to re-debate those matters. In my opinion, that would be a waste of time as most people appear to have hardened their positions, and are resistant to change.
Rather, I want to discuss a new and disturbing development. As I have feared and predicted, terrorists have begun attacking “soft” targets, such as schools, shopping malls, and places of worship, among others – e.g. a school in Connecticut, a nightclub in Orlando, a pedestrian promenade in Nice. Yes, a successful attack on a high profile venue, such as the Super Bowl game or Times Square on New Year’s Eve, would result in more physical damage and produce substantial bragging rights, but these venues are so well protected that the chances of success are remote. Indeed, it’s safe to say terrorists have tried many times with no success. On the other hand, it can be argued that a successful attack on a “soft” target, that has minimal or no security, can be far more damaging psychologically and emotionally.
Those attacks tear at the very root of our daily lives. Most of us will never go to a Super Bowl or Times Square on NYE, so we can tell ourselves that as horrific as those attacks were, they happened to “other” people. But, most all of us have sent our kids off to school, shopped at malls, and walked down a busy boulevard without a second thought. When we send our kids to school every day, we expect that they will return home at the end of the day safe and untraumatized; when our wives go to the mall, our biggest fear should be that they will spend too much, not that they will be murdered in a terrorist attack; and when we go on vacation we expect to relax and have a good time, not have to keep “looking over our shoulder” or be victimized in a random attack. Yet, this is rapidly becoming the new reality.
Among the nearly 100 anonymous dead in Nice were two Americans from Texas – Sean Copeland and his son, Brodie. They are not anonymous to us, nor should they be. They were real people, with a family, friends and real lives, which were snuffed out randomly, carelessly and prematurely. Any one of us could have been them. Sean was a corporate executive. Brodie was a typical fifth grader who liked baseball and acting. They were just normal, everyday people like you and me, whose only “crime” was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were enjoying a European vacation, celebrating the birthdays of two other family members. They had just been in Spain where they had witnessed the famed “running of the bulls” in Pamplona. Now, they were enjoying the Bastille Day celebration on a beautiful, peaceful boulevard in Nice. Who would have thought that the latter would turn out to be more dangerous than the former? The sheer randomness of this whole thing is sickening, but that is the state of the world now.
There are signs that some countries have finally had enough and are advocating aggressive action. As we know, a significant chunk of Americans want to take tighter control of our borders and initiate stronger vetting of immigrants and refugees from certain areas. This idea has been ridiculed by some, but with each terrorist attack, it looks increasingly attractive.
The Brexit vote in the UK was primarily about controlling immigration, rather than economics. France has been subjected to more than its fair share of terrorism, and its political leaders are speaking out. Premier Holland has “declare[d] war” on “radical Islam.” French Prime Minister Manuel Vallis vowed his country will take “exceptional measures” to combat terrorism. It remains to be seen what these “exceptional measures” will be, but one possibility under discussion is a “national indignity” law, which essentially would strip those who commit a terrorist act of various civil and political rights.
Political leaders in other smaller countries, such as Poland, Slovenia and Hungary have also been speaking out. These low-population, low-GDP EU members are very concerned that they will be overwhelmed economically, culturally and socially by the result of the EU’s current lax illegal immigration policies. Regarding terror attacks, in general, and the Nice terror attack, in particular, Hungarian Cabinet Office chief Antal Rogan opined that “illegal immigration and terrorism go hand in hand.” Furthermore, in his opinion, it is “quite clear” that “the terrorist perpetrators” were “illegal immigrants.” He called for the EU to enact significant changes to stop allowing unfettered “mass migration.” He went so far as to say that “migration to Europe should now be halted,” (sound familiar?) and suggested that this opinion was gaining traction in other European countries as well. Hungary will be holding a national referendum on immigration later this year.
Whether or not all this rhetoric will result in significant action is anybody’s guess. In the meantime, each of you will have to decide whether to go on “living your life” or “hide under your bed.” Personally, I choose the former. Otherwise, the terrorists win.