As I sit here safely on my living room sofa following the horrifying developments in Paris from far away, on TV, the internet and social media, I’ll confess I’m as much in shock about these terrorist attacks as the next guy. I feel for the French, who saw (as it stands) over 150 of their sons, brothers, sisters, friends, whatever, mowed down or blown up by Islamic crazies tonight. The gravity and importance of the events need not be stressed here.
But then I hear Bret Baier pronounce on Fox News that this is “the end of the world as we know it”, while at the same time two Dutch friends send me text messages, independently of each other, in which they stress that these attacks will sure be ammunition for Dutch anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders.
While I don’t necessarily disagree with the second sentiment, I wonder if Mr. Wilders is the problem here. No doubt the pundits in the media will start pondering the ‘root causes’ of these events, which after all are starting to pop up left and right now in the yuppie capitals of Europe. And there’s psychological comfort in sticking it to the likes of Mr. Wilders. After 9/11, the post-historic Dutch and French and German pajama boys could stick it to the Yanks’ meddling in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan in prior decades. After the attacks in Madrid, they could stick it to the Spanish troops in Iraq at the time (and not coincidentally, the conservative government in Madrid lost the general elections three days later).
Then later that same year, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam in broad daylight by a jihadi, but, as many on the left alleged at the time, he had it coming anyway. I won’t even begin to mention the massacre at Charlie Hebdo HQ earlier this year, also in Paris.
But to whom are we going to stick it now we basically have Mumbai-style coordinated terrorist attacks executed not in some third-world basket case halfway around the world but in the heart of Paris? “Should have never meddled in Syria!”, I hear you cry.
We can argue about the merits of Western intervention in that god-forsaken country another day, but let’s face it: We are quickly running out of excuses here. If there’s one silver lining around this awful mess: I’m mildly positive that the horrific events in Paris tonight will finally tip the scales of public opinion and have some political consequences across the Old Continent (though I’m not holding my breath).
So here’s my take, Europeans: You’ve been screwed by your politicians for decades and decades, and you have yourselves to blame for it.
“We all get the leaders we deserve,” the old saying goes. You voted for the ‘center-left’ party first, and when that didn’t work out, you voted for the ‘center-right’ party instead. Then, four years later, you’d veer ‘center-left’ again. Sometimes you voted for the one and got the other as a bonus, like those German ‘Grand Coalitions’ between social democrats and Christian democrats.
In the Netherlands you had, in addition to these two political flavors, liberal democrats, more liberal democrats, hardcore socialists, a green party and some small Christian parties. You floated freely from one to the other, for years, decades. If one let you down, you moved on to the next. All in all, you were mildly satisfied. You made money, either by working or being on the government dole. The economy wasn’t too shabby for the most part, and you were able to indulge in the petty decadences of modern life.
And every election you were rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It didn’t matter who you voted for, since the politicians were playing their game between the 40-yard lines.
So you saw the influx of Arabs, Turks and others in your continent, and you noticed the problem got close to home when some started to lose their jobs to immigrants in the 70s and 80s, but for the most part they were losers like the guy next door making six Deutschmarks an hour flipping burgers at the nearby McDonald’s. At the same time, the Algerian grocer’s olives and feta cheese were to die for, even if he was a ten-minute bike ride away from your gentrified redstone neighborhood. Moreover, as your leaders stated all this time, we needed these guys to do the working if you wanted to keep receiving your welfare checks into old age, and over time they’d become as Western as the average gay yuppie liberal in Amsterdam anyway.
Except that it quickly became obvious to the keen observer that they wouldn’t. It’s the typical fallacy of the ‘end-of-history’ types in Europe (and elsewhere) after the Cold War: Inevitably we’d all come to see the light. From goat herders on the Afghan plains to the communist apparatchiks in Beijing, we’d all latch on to the democracy train like the crowds in Poland and East Germany in 1989. Especially those residing among us. Tonight’s events were the final nail in that theory’s coffin. As Samuel Huntington told us: “We define ourselves by what we are not.” As it turns out, many of the Muslims in Europe did not define themselves as Europeans.
When Europeans eventually figured it out, they voted the liberal democrats into office, and then the Christian democrats and social democrats and democrat liberals. But it didn’t matter, because, at heart, all of these parties had bought into the usual romantic immigration claptrap that’s so prevalent among Western elites.
“[The attacker] didn’t have a beard,” noticed one eye witness in the Paris concert hall tonight on Fox News in typical fashion. “He was like a random guy, holding a Kalashnikov.” Well, here’s your problem in a nutshell. If by “random guy” you mean the redefined meaning of “Frenchman”, then yes, this Kalashnikov-wielding savage is pretty random indeed. Even if his skin color looks a little off from your average Pierre and Jacques, I’ve no doubt he could pass for a Frenchman at first glance. But at the same time it can no longer be denied that behind the moderate Western faces often something less Western is hiding. If research shows that practically half of the Muslims in Western Europe are more or less fundamentalists who believe Jews are evil and the West has set out to destroy Islam, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to assume that a few of them might take their hate to the next level one of these days.
Here’s where the half-witted liberal will interject: “But the vast majority are peace-loving, westernized people, and it’s only a minute minority who reach for the Kalashnikovs!” Well, they’re not, and it doesn’t matter. It’s true that one swallow does not a summer make, but it takes only three of them to kill off a hundred defenseless death metal fans inside a concert hall. Two months ago the Dutch counter-terrorism agency NCTV reported that, to date, 210 Dutch jihadis traveled to Syria in order to participate in armed battle over there. Thirty-eight of them have “probably” been killed, and 35 have returned since. These are just the people the intelligence services in the Netherlands have on their radar, mind you. Do you really think another Paris-style terrorist attack elsewhere in Western Europe wouldn’t be possible?
The most enraging part is that we have ourselves to blame for this mess. Islam isn’t the problem; we are. No self-respecting nation can accept that its borders are being overrun by hordes of immigrants or refugees or whatever the linguistic mode du jour is. The starry-eyed globalization crowds will tell you it’s all inevitable. You can’t fence off your borders anymore in this day and age, you see? Well, there was nothing inevitable about the immigration waves into Europe in the 70s and 80s. They were, for the most part, the result of deliberate policies by politicians – in cahoots with big business, of course – to keep wages down and get immigrants to do the jobs that the welfare-addicted Europeans refused to do. These immigrants weren’t stampeding our gates; they were invited over by our leaders. And all the while, you were sleeping.
The current refugee crisis in Europe would never have occurred if its actors wouldn’t be fully aware that Western European countries are too gullible and guilt-ridden to put up a fight against them. Do you think the Chinese or Saudis would be collectively weeping over a photo of a little boy’s body lying on a beach?
The world as we know it didn’t end tonight, contrary to Mr. Baier’s observation. It ended fifty years ago, slowly and without a bang. Today’s events in Paris were just an affirmation of the former, yet sadly for all those killed and wounded, they did come with a bang.