I woke up this morning and as always checked the latest news. Turned out this was the day I knew would eventually come. The numbers so far after three explosions at Brussels airport in Zaventem and the metro station of Maalbeek:
30+ people killed
These numbers will rise in the following hours and days.
I’ll write some more about this in a bit, but first this:
In November 2015, I wrote this article about the Paris Terrorist attacks and their connection to Belgium. It’s long, but I suggest you read it first to understand what I write next.
After I wrote this, I received a lot of negative feedback.
I was told I was a racist.
I was told I exaggerated.
I was told I was a coward.
At the end of that article, I commented on what I thought would happen next. Let’s look at those points now:
- The polarization of our society will accelerate. This happens at an accelerating pace. An increasing number of people who always believed in peaceful coexistence in a multicultural society are abandoning that belief. Instead, they now state both in private and publicly that it’s time to “clean house.” The “us vs. them” mindset is growing rapidly. At the same time, the reports are coming in of Muslim youth in the high schools of Brussels and Antwerp cheering and celebrating the attacks. The rift in our society is now wider and deeper than ever.
- Demagogues, from the left, right and center, will get more attention than they deserve, their non-solutions as well. We’ve had months of nonsense from our politicians. Self-evident actions that should be taken are derided as “Nazi tactics” and the opposition goes out of its way to paint the government as incompetent. Truth be told, they aren’t always wrong, but the point is that there is no unified political front to handle the issues. Instead, they launch soundbites in the media to get some airtime.
- The media once again go out of their way to obscure the facts. The level of media coverage has become even more deplorable than before the Paris attacks. We are inundated with good news shows about how things aren’t that bad in Molenbeek and we really shouldn’t worry too much. Dissenting opinions are either not invited to share their views or they are ridiculed and marginalized.
- The political will to change is not present. This is only partly true. Some parties want to take far-reaching action, but the coalition government isn’t unified in that approach. Obviously, the opposition shoots down everything the government proposes. But most of all, because of the dysfunctional way Belgium is organized, the Brussels government can block or ignore policy that comes from the Federal level. They have made their intentions clear on that front: they do not see the need for important changes…
- The Prime Minister announced his plans yesterday and the erosion of privacy has already started. There have already been some legal changes re. police procedures and more are on the way. After the attacks of today, this process will accelerate and we’ll soon wake up in a very different country.
- We’ve entered the next phase of an asymmetric war that has been raging for decades, but most people chose to ignore it or thought it wasn’t relevant here. Paris was a rude wake up call for them. I believe there is worse to come. I wish I would have gotten that wrong. There’s blood in the streets and corpses on the ground. For many people, they will only now understand that safety is an illusion. It never existed and never will. That includes our lives here in Brussels, Belgium and everywhere else in the world.
I wish I was wrong when I wrote that list after Paris happened, but I don’t think I am. I am not going to spend hours looking up all the links to articles and videos that prove everything I wrote in the above bullet list. If you want them, Google is your friend.
I expect things will get worse. Some thoughts:
- The rest of Europe. We’ve had the Paris attacks and now Brussels. I expect bombings and attacks to succeed in other EU countries in the near future. Belgium is now at alert level 4, which gives our police forces and government more leeway in going after terrorist. France is still in a state of emergency and has the same leeway now. This makes it harder for terrorists to execute their missions, but not impossible, not by far. However, other EU countries aren’t at the highest alert levels, so terrorists have more freedom of movement there. It also makes sense for them to attack as many countries as possible to achieve their goals.
- The Syrian war will change. Belgian Airforce already does raids on Syrian IS targets, soon our government will have to decide whether to do more of these. Other governments will have to ask themselves the same question. Increasingly, IS is striking in the homelands of the coalition that is lined up against them. Public opinion in these countries will pressure politicians to act. In the end, that can only lead to an escalation of hostilities and boots on the ground, which also means body bags returning home. We’ll see if our societies are ready for that too…
- The Belgian economy will bleed. Our government has a multi-billion Euro deficit this year and our economy is fragile, to put it mildly. Today’s bombings deal out a hard blow to our tourist industry (a key component of our economy) and will have consequences in many other sectors. This combined with the negative outlook for both the EU and world economy doesn’t bode well for the future.
- Belgian society will become even more divided. When I look online and on social media, I see a lot of outrage, which is to be expected. But I also see a huge increase in people who publicly voice their mind on what they perceive to be the root of the problem. For Belgium, this is unheard of and it indicates the tipping point in public opinion I’ve slowly seen building in the last few years. More next.
- People will push back. Our modern society doesn’t handle fear well, but it also increasingly refuses to be manipulated. As I explained in my other article, the debate about multiculturalism was sabotaged for decades and we were told to not be “scared, white racists.” The problems were left to fester and now we have the current state of affairs, culminating in today’s attacks. The media will find it increasingly difficult to sell the message of “it’s your fault” to the local Belgian population. The people will demand action and the politicians who fail to deliver it will be remembered in next elections. If the people don’t see rapid change (which they won’t, because that’s not how societal change works), they will take matters in their own hands in all kinds of ways. The hardening of out society that started a few years ago will deepen. As a result, our society will become even more divided, the Muslim population will close ranks to protect itself, and then we have a vicious cycle that only leads to more violence and terror.
There’s more, but I’ve delivered enough bad news already.
The future is bleak and we Belgians are now entering the next phase of asymmetric warfare I mentioned in the previous article. Our society will change rapidly and not for the better. There will be more blood and violence as people come to understand that you cannot negotiate with those who want to kill you. But stopping that from happening has far-reaching, lasting consequences for our society and people do not understand just what that means. Nor will they feel comfortable with what our government and law enforcement will have to do to protect us to the best of its limited abilities. We are entering “breaking a few eggs to make an omelette” territory and this should scare everybody who has half a brain.
The end is also nowhere in sight. We will be struggling with terrorists on our home turf for a very long time. I don’t expect this to be over in the near future and each new incident will spark even more changes in our society. Given the way news, true or false, spreads instantly by going viral, the potential for civil unrest and violence is huge. It’s safest to assume this will become the new normal and prepare accordingly.
All that said, life will go on.
I will still get up each day and go to work, spend time with my kids and loved ones and live my life as I always have.
Illegitimi non carborundum.
Not now, not ever.