Brussels Attack

Brussels Terrorist Attack: Refuse to Be Afraid!

"Je suis en terrasse!" as the Parisians say.



"Je suis en terrasse!" (I am on the terrace) was the defiant slogan on the banner displayed when the Bonne Bière cafe reopened after the attack on the restaurant during the coordinated terrorist spree in Paris last November. The brasserie was the site of the first shooting which killed five patrons and injured eight others. When I was in Paris a month after the attack I heard that defiant sentiment from many Parisians: They refused to be intimidated by terrorism and continued to drink their coffee, beer, and wine seated outside (under heat lamps) at the city's cafes, bistros, and brasseries. 

I spent three weeks in the city. One covering the U.N. climate change conference and two as a tourist. In the wake of the attacks, there was heightened security at most public venues such as museums, opera houses, and major churches. I did pay my respects to those murdered by the terrorists by visiting the memorials left outside Bataclan concert hall where 89 people died. But for the most part, the rhythms of the city did not seem thrown off kilter to me.

Condolences to the people who have lost loved ones in this latest atrocity. However, the notion of a city lockdown in the face of such attacks should be abhorrent to those love liberty. Residents should be free to go about their lives taking what due care they feel they must and, of course, aid the police as they pursue any remaining perpetrators and accomplices. While the evil intentionality of terrorism undeniably makes it more frightening, its effects on the lives of citizens are actually no greater than those stemming from a mass casualty accident. So far, the risk of dying in a terrorist attack in Belgium is less than 1 in 360,000; the risk of dying in a road accident is 1 in 14,000.

Recent research shows that terrorism is a near total failure as a strategy for achieving the demands of those who resort to it. In fact, it backfires and "increases the odds that target countries will dig in their political heels, depriving the non-state challengers of their given preferences."

Unfortunately, while terrorism poses absolutely no existential threat to liberal democracies, it is all too often used as an excuse to strenghten the powers of the national security surveillance state. Our civil liberties are destroyed not by terrorists, but by our own politicians.

So instead of succumbing to fear, which provokes some idiots to call for closing our borders, let us join the Parisians and toast life and liberty on the terrace.

For more background see my article, "How Scared of Terrorism Should You Be?"

NEXT: Ted Cruz Wants Special Police Patrols in Muslim Communities. Ask NYPD How That Went for Them.

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  1. For more background see my article, “How Scared of Terrorism Should You Be?”

    Very. Every time an attack occurs, some douchecanoe in Washington wants something from me.

  2. Unfortunately, while terrorism poses absolutely no existential threat to liberal democracies, it is all too often used as an excuse to strenghten the powers of the national security surveillance state.

    That’s why terrorist attack are so threatening. They are not because the Islamists get their way, but because they make the public more likely to let the politicians have theirs.

    God help us from a people who want “safety”!

    1. If the goal of terrorism is to make so-called liberal democracies tear themselves apart internally, becoming illiberal national security caliphates, has terrorism not won?

      1. I don’t think that’s the actual goal, but it’s what it’s succeeding in doing.

        1. Yeah, I don’t think most terrorism you see in Europe these days has any more point to it than Adam Lanza’s schoolhouse rampage.

        2. It was most definitely the goal of al Qaeda.

          “We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah,”

          “al Qaeda has found it “easy for us to provoke and bait this administration.”

          “All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations,” bin Laden said.”

    2. I would agree that terrorism poses no threat to existing governments in the West.

      I think it does pose a threat to liberal democracies, by giving those governments cover and justification for eroding what makes them “liberal democracies”.

  3. Okay, I’ll disagree. Terrorism does pose an existential threat to “liberal democracies”. Intimidated and fearful people change their behavior. As noted, some look to protection from an increasing powerful government.

    Intimidated people also change their behavior. They become guarded in their speech – unwilling to say anything about Islam or Muslims. They are afraid of confrontation as their culture and country are changed in ways that they would otherwise never have tolerated. In other words, it makes them submissive – which is the whole idea.

    1. Terrorism is absolutely a threat to freedom. If exercising your freedom means risking your life to do so, you are not free.

      1. Bingo. Just because it isn’t the state stopping women from dressing a certain way, or cartoonists drawing a certain prophet doesn’t make it any less a threat to freedom.

    2. This is a reality that some people who post here really need to understand.

    3. Europe has been terrorized for decades. I don’t recall London or Berlin going on “lockdown” all the time in the 80s when the bombings were probably more frequent than today. What’s changed?

      1. The IRA bombings were as a general rule nowhere near as spectacular or widespread as these. The communist terrorist bombings were also pretty small. I think what has changed is that unlike the IRA or the Red Brigade, these people are willing to die to kill us. That is much more disturbing.

        Also, nothing the IRA or old communists did even begins to compare to the brutality of something like the Paris attacks. These people are animals who can’t be bargained with. I don’t think people ever felt that way about the IRA or even the communists.

        1. The answer I was looking for is that, like the US, they have become pussies while allowing their governments to grab more and more power.

          Your answer may have some merit but I doubt most people are that calculating. I would think that to most, a bomb is a bomb is a bomb.

        2. At least in the IRA case, I don’t know if I fully agree with that. Over 3.500 people died in the Troubles over a 30 year period, with another 50,000 injured. That’s over 100 dead every year, and close to 2,000 wounded. Islamic terrorism is not having anywhere near that sort of toll every year in any Western country.

          1. wouldn’t the IRA numbers be more significant if that carnage had occurred in, say, Middle Eastern nations? This was an internal battle with horrible results, to be sure, but it was internal. If one group of Muslims was killing other groups of Muslims in predominantly-Muslim nations, this topic would not get near the traction it does.

            1. “wouldn’t the IRA numbers be more significant if that carnage had occurred in, say, Middle Eastern nations?”

              Why is that? What does it have to do with John’s contention?

              “If one group of Muslims was killing other groups of Muslims in predominantly-Muslim nations, this topic would not get near the traction it does.”

              That describes the vast majority of deaths due to Islamic terrorism. And even just looking at attacks in the West, they are often done by people born and/or raised in those societies.

            2. Irish Catholics and Protestants hated each other just about as much as Muslims hate non-Mulims (or different kinds of Muslims hate each other).

          2. And UK sent in the army to run a low-level occupation/anti-guerrilla campaign, which is hardly close to the response to Islamic terrorists of today.

            1. I don’t disagree, I’m just disagreeing with the notion that the IRA attacks were somehow less frequent or intense.

      2. Most of the Northern Ireland bombings and violence were in Belfast/Londonderry, I thought, not London. Though it sure didn’t take many bombings of The City before the UK got interested in seeing what Sinn Fein had to say…

        People are a lot more easily startled now than they were back in the 70s, IMHO. There was a small little bombing campaign in Boston, near the time of the Bicentennial. Destructive, but nobody died. Had it happened now, see Boston Strong. Back then, it was annoying, but what could you do? People shrugged and went about their business. Much harder back then to be as tied in and as connected as we are now.

        A b/w photo of a smoking airport terminal doesn’t have the same impact as a CCTV clip of a bomb going off amidst a bunch of travelers.

      3. Numbers are way higher. From Wikipedia (from what it’s worth etc) entry on Red Brigades:

        According to statistics by the Ministry of Interior. A total of 75 people are thought to have been murdered by the BR. A majority of the murders were politically motivated, though a number of assassinations of random police and carabinieri officers took place, as well as a number of murders occurring during criminal ventures such as bank robberies and kidnappings.

        That’s 75 deaths from 1970 till 2005.

        Baader Meinhoff article doesn’t add up the deaths, quick sum gives it to be about 30ish from 1970-2007.

        IRA has a much higher body count (~1400), but not broken between Northern Ireland (basically low-level civil war with military deployed) and the UK. Birmigham pub bombings are 21 dead, so that’s one data point. Bombing the Conservative Party conference in Brighton was another 5.

        1. Bingo. The Brits finally convinced enough Irish people they weren’t going to give up, and offered enough of a fig leaf for them to save face. Like all wars, it ended when one side was exhausted.

          That’s the lesson we have failed to learn – that what amounts to a coup backed by the US military does not end armed opposition. To make the fighting stop, you have to make the other side want to stop fighting. This generally happens only after a pretty brutal “exchange of views”.

      4. Rhywun – the answer is – we were in an ideological struggle against communism that most people actually believed in. Because we were on the side of freedom, we wouldn’t resort to such illiberal tactics.

        The Cold War also forced us to think on a larger scale. A building or plane is insignificant compared to the looming possibility of nuclear war.

        A generation after the Cold War, we have lost that perspective and the moral compass that pointed towards freedom.

    4. and it’s behavior that the left, absent the mass murder, has embraced to the same ends. When rent-a-mobs show up to shout down speakers or ideas they can’t handle, or call people racists/sexists/bigots, or take offense where none is intended, the same behavioral changes are likely to occur.

  4. Je suis en terrasse!

    uh, maybe that’s not the best slogan

    1. Brussels Strong?

      1. ugh.

        I meant that everyone knows that “Je Suis” means “I AM ______”

        but that “terrasse” sounds a hell of a lot like “Terrirrisss!”

        I think there are a number of people who could say in a court of law, “Your honor, I don’t speak french, and he sorta looked like a terrorist…. so i felt it was prudent to shoot first. Honest mistake!”

    2. My god, they’ve all joined the terrorists now.

  5. those arrogant antisemites in Europe just won’t learn. They think the terrorist attacks against Jews in the land that G-d gave them is just fine and dandy; however, the attacks on Europe, whose soil is drenched in Jewish blood, is a horrible thing. The arrogance of those European Jew haters. I like Steve Plaut’s response to the Brussel’s attack. Steve Plaut said the EU must now label products from Brussel as from occupied Flanders and occupied Wallonia, just as the EU labels products for Eretz Yisrael as coming from the so-called “occupied west bank.” The Muslim savages attack Israel and the EU bashes Israel. I call upon the EU not to be hypocrites and now attack Belgium for being terroristically attacked by their precious Muslims. C’mon guys! Don’t be antisemites — be consistent!

    “There’s no need to fear. Underzog is here!”

    Trayvon Martin Lied

    The Jewish DEfense League Marching Song

    1. Whoa, i haven’t seen Underzog in forever. Where have you been, man? And how soon can you go back to there?

      1. I’m hoping for an Underzog vs. Pirate Truther face off.

        1. That would be epic.

          1. Agile moderating.

            $45 a seat.

            1. Does that include, err, “refreshments”

          2. We can pay John to punch a protestor and *really* stir some shit up.

            1. You wouldn’t have to pay him, which is a bonus.

        2. Truly something to consider for the next donation drive!

  6. Terrorism is not a threat to democracy but an old man throwing a punch at a Trump rally is. The contrast between reason’s constant pants shitting over Trump and complete nonchalance about the murder of dozens of people in a public place is quite striking.

    1. You’re so right, John. Fascist violence in the U.S. and Europe isn’t the fault of fascists. Its the fault of Leftists. I get it. You smart.

      1. Leftists are fascists you murderous half wit. They were called NATIONAL SOCIALISTS.

    2. Yeah, it’s like they have barely mentioned terrorist attacks or the threats they pose to both liberty and safety at all today.

      1. It is Zeb. The only threat reason is worried about is the threat that someone might go too far in trying to stop them. The threat posed by the actual attacks seems to be of no concern.

  7. Fuck that hippie noise, Ron. TO WAR!!!

    Terrorist attacks that kill on 1/365 year about as many people as Western bombs kill every day for 365/365 year demand a proportional response. One thousand desperately poor lives in Syria for every one life of a European, I say. 10,000 for every American.

    1. Dude, we already know you’re a bloodthirsty sack of garbage.

    2. Public lynching killed even fewer blacks. At most 150 or so blacks were lynched every year. I guess that wasn’t a big deal either.

      1. Most African-Americans were Republicans during the height of Jim Crow, so why should amsoc care about them?

      2. Because application of state violence on behalf of the racists that lynched Black people through Jim Crow laws and bombing Syrians because of a couple of ISIS assholes is totally the same as *not* having police beat up Black people and *not* bombing poor people in Raqqa.

        BTW, John, the thing that enabled Civil Rights marchers to oppose the lynching of Black people and the disenfranchisement of millions of African-Americans were civil rights laws passed in the 50s and 60s. I guess there’s probably both good and bad government. I just hate ambiguity.

        1. The Civil Rights protesters were most definitely protesting before civil rights laws got passed. That was the whole point.

          1. Mmm… I don’t think so. Federal laws were used by civil rights protesters specifically to combat Jim Crow laws. Look up keys vs. Carolina coach co. and Morgan vs. Virginia for examples.

            1. “Mmm… I don’t think so.”

              Really? The civil rights laws of the 50s and 60s just happened spontaneously and then the protestors decided to make noise, rather than the laws being a result of civic activism and civil disobedience?

              Morgan didn’t happen in the 50s or 60s, and the court made a decision based on the interstate commerce clause, not a civil rights law. Similar story for Keys. Although it at least happened in the 50s, the law was struck down under the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, not any civil rights law passed in the 50s or 60s.

        2. the racists that lynched Black people through Jim Crow laws

          I think this makes it pretty clear that amsoc has no idea what Jim Crow laws even were.

    3. Here’s a proportional response for you: FU

    4. Perhaps you don’t watch the news much (I can’t get on my high horse on that, because I don’t much any more either), but we are already at war with ISIS, Obama has ordered air strikes against ISIS because it’s the Obama administration’s official position that ISIS is an existential threat to America. Obama is currently in a tacit agreement with Russia to support the Asad administration in defeating ISIS.

  8. terrorism is a near total failure as a strategy for achieving the demands of those who resort to it

    I’m not so sure about that.

    There are a handful of countries in the middle east all of which have seen dictators fall, and are now in the midst of major power struggles. Prior to that, almost all of these places were ruled by dictators tacitly accepted by the West.

    I’m not so sure that the changes that have occurred in the last 20 years look like “failure” to the islamic revolutionaries.

    1. If Robby thinks terrorism fails, he should write that movie script about the life of Muhammad and see if he can get anyone to make it.

      1. The Passion of the Prophet?

        I bet the Jews come out looking even worse in that one than Mel Gibson’s film.

      2. There actually was one in 1976, with Antony Quinn playing Mohamed. The producer was killed in a suicide bombing in 2005, and Mark Steyn has a detailed obituary.

        Though Akkad had observed the prohibition against representations of the Prophet, even a rumored glimpse of his shadow (which the director had at one time considered) provoked objections. Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, formerly a Seventh Day Adventist called Ernest McGhee, decided to do something about the abomination. A dozen Muslims seized three buildings in Washington, DC, and took 120 hostages, including (in an early example of the many internal contradictions of the Rainbow Coalition) the future mayor, Marion Barry. He was one of a couple of dozen injured. Jewish hostages were abused. A reporter was killed.

    2. Are the falls of Sadaam, Gaddafi, Mubarak, and the instability of Assad’s regime the result of terrorism, or have terrorist groups tried to capitalize on them? I agree with the latter, but I think the former is a more dubious argument.

      1. the latter would seem painfully obvious. One might think the cluster that is Libya would count against Herself’s run for president, especially given how the previous ousting of a secular dictator created chaos in Iraq.

      2. Are the falls of Sadaam, Gaddafi, Mubarak, and the instability of Assad’s regime the result of terrorism, or have terrorist groups tried to capitalize on them?

        You conflate 2 different things here.

        “Terrorism” is just a tactic. No, none of those regimes fell because of terrorism. They fell because of populist uprisings. But Islamic revolutionaries which were certainly *part* of those uprisings are now trying to consolidate power, and they sometimes use terror to do so, and its been effective enough in that respect

        Re: terror attacks on the West? I think are stupid. But i don’t think they will stop, because they are cheap and easy.

        From the POV of the islamic revolutionary types, they’ve come a long way since the 1970s and, from their perspective, they think they’re “Winning”.

        1. Populist uprisings without terrorism die in a hail of bullets in the ME. See, eg, the failed Green Revolution in Iran.

          Terror movements without popular support also die in a hail of bullets. See, eg, the expulsion of Palestinians from Jordan.

          Populist uprisings combined with terrorism sometimes succeed. I would say both are necessary conditions to overthrow a regime, but neither is sufficient. Even in combination, they may not be sufficient.

    3. G: Actually, see my 2011 column predicting that Arab Spring would fail, “The Political Economy of the End of Tyranny.”

      1. what can the world expect? So far Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya appear to be popular uprisings and not coups. Similar popular uprisings in the region are brewing in Oman, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco, and perhaps also soon in Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is likely that the attempts by autocrats to buy off people will fail; the revolutions will succeed, at least temporarily.

        Given the level of inequality in most of those countries, the models suggest that the long-run prospects for consolidating democracy are dim. The popular uprisings might be hijacked by elites and essentially turned into coups. For example, a figure could emerge from the Egyptian military as a first among equals to run that country. One hopeful possibility is that democracy-boosting asset redistribution could take place if the region’s oil revenues were allocated directly to citizens through a mechanism like the Alaska Permanent Fund.

        Let’s hope that the models prove wrong and that the people who are now bravely struggling to free themselves from terror and tyranny will soon permanently enjoy the blessings of liberty.

        interesting piece.

        i still don’t think the current status quo is something that looks like “failure” from the POV of Islamist revolutionaries. they wanted to overthrow the secularists and drive the west out. from their perspective, they have made ‘progress’

        1. One hopeful possibility is that democracy-boosting asset redistribution could take place i

          Isn’t this essentially the Sanders plan?

    4. I’ve pondered on the failure of terrorism for hours and hours… what else is there to do in the TSA line?

  9. Ima skerred them terrists gonna get me. Please lord and cia fbi nsa you gotta catch em.

  10. We need to teach radical Islamists not to bomb!

    As I recall from another website, your statistical likelihood of being killed by a cop is also orders of magnitude less than than being killed in a car accident, so that is also nothing to really get worked up over either, right?

    Fatuous uses of statistics are fatuous, no matter what the cause they are supporting.

  11. Let me guess – “Refuse to be afraid!” Is Enlightenmentspeak for “Open the borders!”.

    1. Why have you rotated between a handful of handles this past decade instead of just sticking with Slappy!?

      1. I didn’t think the words “Nativist, Racist & Xenophobe” we’re getting quite enough exercise around here. I’m helping to build the vocabularies of the commentariat and the editorial staff.

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