The Paris terrorist attacks, the connection to Belgium and what comes next

Lots of ink has flown since the terrorist attacks in Paris, a lot of it was a bunch of nonsense. I’m not going to address that. What I will speak of is how the attacks relate to my home country, Belgium, what the future holds and how I plan on living my life in this “new” reality. To do that, I have to go against my policy of refusing to talk politics. To paint you an accurate picture, I need to address the political situation in Belgium even though I’d rather not get into it. To be clear:

  • I will not engage in political discussions in the comments section. If you do so, I will either block your comment or ignore you.
  • Both people from the left and the right will not appreciate what I have to say. If I get everybody upset, I’ll probably come closer to the truth than if I only get one side angry. For the record: I despise all politicians equally.
  • If you do get angry, see the first point in this list.
  • I will only speak of Belgium. If any of it applies to your country too, fine. If it doesn’t, equally fine as I wasn’t talking about your country to begin with.

That said, here are my thoughts.

What riots in Molenbeek look like.

What riots in Molenbeek look like.

The Paris terrorist attacks

Last Friday, I drove through one of the Brussels municipalities called Molenbeek (we’ll get back to that) on my way to dinner with friends. I made some comments to my girlfriend about the state that municipality is in, the problems there and how one day, it’ll blow up… A few hours later we left the restaurant, I checked my cellphone and saw the news of the Paris terrorist attacks. My first thought was “It’s begun.”

The writing has been on the wall for years for the Paris attacks, I’ve often stated both in private and in public that terrorist attacks are to come both in Europe in general and in Belgium in particular. Back then, the response I usually got was ridicule or eye-rolling. Today, the response is fear and panic. Neither response is useful.

It’s early days, but from the looks of it, this is the attack I’ve feared for a long time was coming. Some of the changes that have been seeping into EU societies will now pick up steam and get implemented at an increased rate.  More on that later, but first and foremost: my condolences to all the families of the victims.


The connection to Belgium

Many of the Islamist terrorist attacks in Europe (and beyond) are linked to Belgium in general and Molenbeek in particular:

The list is longer than this, but you get the picture: this has been going on for a long time.

There are many reasons why jihadist terrorists find Belgium such an attractive place to stay. I won’t cover all of them, just the ones I feel are most relevant. Let’s start with the first one.


Belgium is an artificial state with systemic failure built into it.

Long story short, Belgium was created as a buffer to keep other European countries from going to war all the time. The current result is three ethnic communities (Dutch-speaking Flemish, French-speaking Walloon and German) forced together into a construction that never worked properly and likely never will. For example, for a country with only about eleven million inhabitants: [Read more…]

Everything you know about violence is wrong

“Why couldn’t the police shoot the knife out of that guys hand? Why did they have to kill him?”

“Why did they pile on top of him with five cops? Poor guy got crushed! Police brutality!”

“Why did you hit him first? He was only yelling,he didn’t even touch you!”

“Why did he hit me? All I did was say that he’s an idiot!”

These are just a few examples of the kind of questions I have been asked about self-defense and violence over the years. As a rule, the people asking them either have very limited (often none at all) first-hand experience with violence or only encountered it as a bystander. The mere act of asking the question betrays their fundamental lack of information and experience on the subject. Usually, it means they really don’t know what they are talking about.

If you read this last sentence, get offended and start howling at the screen, ready to drink my blood, then let me answer those questions for you first:

Everything-you know about violence is wrong

What real violence looks like…

#1: Shooting a knife out of somebody’s hand only works in the movies. It is next to impossible for the average police officer to pull this off , it’s just too difficult. If you don’t believe me, go to the range and try it. Then, factor in adrenal stress, fear, having to make a the split-second decision to take that shot, the bad guy not standing still like a paper target, etc. See what I mean?

Also, the officer is responsible for that bullet. If he misses (as he likely will with such an impossible shot) and hits an innocent bystander, he’s liable. So by default, he has a vested interest to make sure every shot hits the bad guy. Aiming for the larger target that is center mass (the torso) makes a whole lot more sense and is actually possible, given enough training.

If your response is that officers need more training, then I agree. Not because it will teach them to shoot the knife out of an attacker’s hands, but because they are typically under-trained as is. Go ask a LEO how much firearms training he gets from the PD every year (get ready to weep…). Not what he does on his own time and dime, but as a part of his ongoing training. Then, go find out how much that costs. Then, figure out how much extra training the officers would ideally receive to conform to whatever standard you feel is needed. Tally up that sum times the number of officers. It’ll be a pretty penny, even in small departments.

Final questions: are you prepared to pay extra taxes to fund this? If yes, awesome; you are putting your money where your mouth is and I applaud you. If not, fine, but which departments should get their budgets cut to free up those needed funds?

In other words, it’s easy to say the police need more training. It’s another matter making it happen. [Read more…]

Street Fighting Mistakes: expecting bystanders to help

I recently posted a video on my Facebook page that sparked many comments and noticed the same question coming back: why didn’t anybody do anything? This triggered this post in my “street fighting mistakes” series about expecting bystanders to help when violence breaks out. I’ll go into that below, but first, look at the video in question, if you haven’t seen it already.

Apparently, the attacker has been arrested and will get his due, so there’s that.

Some more thoughts now.

Street Fighting Mistakes: bystanders will help you

There are several aspects to this issue and the first one is that, in most modern Western societies, people assume certain things are generally true:

  • There is the rule of law.
  • People are not inherently violent.
  • Certain lines cannot be crossed.
  • People are helpful to each other.

For the most part and for the average person, these assumptions are mostly correct. Meaning, in their daily lives, these assumptions hold up consistently. As long as they don’t stray too far from their social comfort zone, this remains true. It is entirely human to then eventually expect these assumptions to hold up all the time, simply because they always have before.

That’s where the problems start.

At the fringes of these societies (with homeless people and street thugs as is the case here), the rules are different:

  • Rule of law is replaced by rule of might.
  • Violence is a tool that is used to get what you want. It is often the preferred tool.
  • The lines are drawn elsewhere, much further than in regular society.
  • You look out for yourself first and foremost.

To regular folks, this is unheard of and unacceptable. In a fringe society, it is normal. That’s the first disconnect. As a result, when many of these folks are suddenly a bystander to a violent street fight, they have two typical reactions: they freeze as they try to process what is happening or they step in, unaware of the danger to themselves. I believe the freeze is the most common one.

A secondary aspect is the dynamic where, once engaged, the human brain develops a certain inertia for the chosen course. I’m blanking on the correct term but in short, it means that the more and longer you pick a course of action, the harder it is to change it: the longer you remain a bystander while a street fight is going on, the harder it is to get yourself to act. This is an oversimplified explanation of a much more complex subject, but you get what I mean. You often see this in action when a street fight breaks out and nobody acts but when one person steps in to break it up, suddenly the rest moves too. It takes that one person breaking the collective freeze before they also act.

A third factor is decades of increasingly alienating regular people from how violence works, why it happens and how to handle it and you create an average citizen who is out of his depth when confronted with violence. It is alien to him and he does not have the tools or skills to handle it, so avoidance is an instinctive choice. Society cannot have it both ways: you can’t have zero tolerance for fighting in schools, indoctrinate generations with microaggressions, trigger warnings and the cliche of “violence never solved anything” and similar nonsense  and also expect people to know how to handle violence. It takes repeated exposure and personal experience to discover the reality of violence and develop those skills. Expecting each person you meet in the street to have these skills is a mistake.

Street Fighting Mistakes Expecting bystanders to helpCombine all this together and you have a bad mix that makes it more likely other people will do nothing. So if you end up fighting in the street for whatever reason, it is a mistake to expect the bystanders to help you or anyone else for that matter. It if does, great. Hurrah for humanity. But more likely than not, it won’t happen. Would it benefit society if this changed? Probably, depending on certain factors, which is a whole other discussion. But my main point is this:

Self-defense means defending one’s self. It does not mean expecting others to do the work for you.


Woman throws baby so she can fight

In this video, you see a woman who throws her baby so she can fight another woman on the bus. If you find that hard to watch, don’t click on the video below. That said, there are a few points worth considering if you do watch it, in particular relating to female violence. First, a short introduction:

  • We don’t see the beginning of the incident, it is well underway when the footage starts.
  • There is a lot of cursing and shouting but we can’t say who instigated the incident. What is clear is that both parties are more than willing to continue engaging the other; there is virtually no de-escalation.
  • As a result, one woman snaps and throws her baby at another passenger to start the fight.

Here’s the video:

Earlier this week I taught a thirty-something woman self-defense and female violence is is one of the topics that came up. Here’s why:

There is the assumption in modern society that violence is strictly a male issue, but nothing could be further from the truth. Women fight and use violence too, but it tends to get less press than when men fight. There are several reasons for that, one of them being that women tend to do less damage when they fight (except when they use weapons.) Regardless, woman-on-woman violence and fighting is real and more prevalent than you might expect. The video shows a few interesting dynamics in this regards, so here are some thoughts: [Read more…]

Common sense and self defense

Watch this first before you read my thoughts on common sense and self-defense:

Next, read Kathy’s thoughts on this video. She’s a firearms instructor and author of a good book on firearms for women. It’s a short piece and she makes a point I want to expand upon.


Common sense and self-defense

First, look up “anthropomorphism” if you need to.  Since when does it work to treat a bear like a person and argue with him, plead with him, threaten him or whine his ears off? The answer: since too many people have lost touch with nature and are increasingly shielded from danger in daily life. As a result, they don’t know how to handle things like dangerous animals and other high-risk situations.


Second, Kathy’s comments are spot on: certain types of criminals don’t care about your whining or pleading. They just hurt or kill you regardless of what you think or feel. This used to be common knowledge and common sense too. Not anymore, like a lot of other things. Some examples…
One of my students works in third world countries. He told me the story of having a new (young) colleague come over to Ethiopia and they were driving around to show her the place. All is well until she accidentally runs over a goat on the road.

He urges her to drive on. She doesn’t.

He tells her to just drop some money out the window and not get out. She doesn’t. [Read more…]