A specter is haunting Europe. The specter of Islam.
George W. Bush used to say that we had to fight the terrorists over there, in the Middle East, so we wouldn’t have to fight them here at home. A long period of relative security made that claim seem overblown, like a lame justification for interventionism. But it just might turn out that he was right, and that it is even more true for Europe than it is for us.
I was reminded of this reading about the curtailed New Year’s Eve celebrations in Paris.
About 60,000 police officers and troops were deployed across the country, and revelers said that made them feel safer. “The same troops who used to be in Mali, Chad, French Guyana or the Central African Republic are now ensuring the protection of French people,” said Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
In Belgium, the New Year’s Eve festivities were canceled entirely.
In Brussels, 2016 was rung in without the customary fireworks display and downtown street party…. Earlier this week, Belgian authorities announced they had arrested two men suspected of planning to stage attacks in Brussels over the holidays…. On Thursday morning, forklifts and trucks removed generators and other equipment from the Place de Brouckere, the broad square in central Brussels where the fireworks show was supposed to happen.
In Paris, they were significantly scaled down.
Paris canceled its usual fireworks display in favor of a five-minute video performance at the Arc de Triomphe just before midnight, relayed on screens along the Champs Elysee, where people chanted. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the show was aimed at “sending the world the message that Paris is standing, proud of its lifestyle and living together.”
Well, no, if Paris were standing tall, it would have had its usual celebrations. Fireworks have an interesting symbolism, recalling the sights and sounds of war. Presumably that’s the problem this year: fireworks would be good cover for another shooting rampage. In the United States, legend has it that the reason we have fireworks on the Fourth of July is to remember the wars we fought to gain and keep our independence — the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air. But you only want to remember that if you won the war. If you’re losing, I can see why you wouldn’t be so excited about the fireworks.
Continuer reading below…
Source: The Specter Of Islam