Once again terrorism has struck Europe, this time in Brussels, and the whole cycle begins anew. What cycle am I referring to? I guess the best comparison is something like a morbid, shameful version of “the 12 Days of Christmas.”
We’ve got Americans who’ve never had a passport talking about how this could have been prevented if only Belgians could carry concealed handguns.
Out of those, a certain portion will explain what they would have done in that situation, had they been allowed to carry their concealed firearm.
There are the Islamophobes screaming “I told you so” while totally ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Muslims don’t do anything like this, and if even 1% of them were, European cities would look like a war zone.
We’ll get the over-compensating liberal who insists that this has “nothing to do with Islam at all.”
There’s the snarky little shit who needs to remind everyone that changing your Facebook profile pic “doesn’t actually do anything,” because obviously anyone doing that believes that it does.
There’s the radical leftist demanding to know why these people didn’t change their profile pic to the flag of some other country that recently suffered a terrorist attack, just as they did as soon as they heard about the attack in Brussels.
Perhaps another leftist, maybe the same as the one above, will immediately remind everybody that this terrorism is the result of foreign policy, specifically that of the US, because otherwise nobody would know. And yes, I’ve already received reports of folks like this blaming the attacks on Belgian colonialism in the Congo. You read that correctly.
You’ve got Russian political figures rubbing their hands with glee over the misfortune of Europeans. And before you claim that there wasn’t enough sympathy over the Russian Sinai airliner bombing- keep in mind that the Russian government took a long time to even acknowledge the possibility that it was a terrorist attack even as Western governments were strongly suggesting that terrorism was the cause of the disaster.
And I don’t even need to check to know that hundreds if not thousands of people were declaring the attacks to be a “false flag” staged by the government even before the blood dried.
I don’t pretend to have answers to this situation. Yes, foreign policy, specifically the Iraq War, played a role. Yes, we shouldn’t let that get in the way of being outraged at terrorism and the ideology that fuels it. We should stand up against xenophobia and do what we can for innocent refugees without being afraid of criticizing Islam or refusing to tolerate those who deliberately refuse to tolerate others. We ought to wake up and realize that terrorism isn’t going to be stopped by the knowledge that one in so many dozens of people might be carrying a concealed handgun. Maybe we ought to just shut up and take at least a few hours to express sympathy before we go through the usual rituals that have come to be associated with these events.
At times I can’t help but think that on some level ISIS is a kind of punishment for our collective cynicism as a species. There’s the cynicism of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism. The cynicism of the “left.” Everybody’s attitude in the post-Iraq War world seems to be resigned, and if it had a motto it would be “Fuck it.”
Yeah okay so Trump talks about events in living memory that never happened. He’s anti-establishment. Fuck it.
Sure, Hillary is one of the least progressive liberals in history, but we’ve got to beat Trump so fuck it.
Assad kills a few hundred thousand people but some of the people fighting him are bad so fuck it.
Sure, Putin runs a right-wing capitalist regime that supports far right wing parties around the world, but he hates NATO and the US government hates him so he must be doing something right. Fuck it.
Venezuela’s leaders ran their economy into the ground while claiming to be socialists, but again the US government doesn’t get on with them so they must be right. Fuck it.
Sure ISIS slaughters people with joy, but Iraq War, so fuck it.
Afghanistan? Either way fuck it.
I can’t be bothered to actually learn about history and the politics of the Middle East, so I’ll just let some con man tell me how he’s got it all figured out with this conspiracy theory. Fuck it.
The early 21st century is a tragic period indeed. According to most indicators people are living better than they have ever lived before, with more access to information than any other generation in our relatively short history, and yet we cannot enjoy it. We cannot stand up for the most basic values, because con men used those values to dupe us into all manner of folly both at home and abroad.
I don’t want to overstate the threat of ISIS. Movements just as barbaric and destructive as theirs have lasted far longer and probably done more damage. But it seems that they’re the only people who believe in anything, as horrible as that anything is. Maybe the reason we haven’t smacked them down yet is that we have become so cynical about our values, so disconnected from them, that we can’t muster up the courage to stand up for them.
Again, I have no answers at the moment. I’m just tired. I think from now on when I see another example of the responses I’ve listed above, I’m just going to say “fuck it” and move along.