Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Berlin Christmas Market Terrorist Attack - A Call for Action Now

Terror in Berlin Dec. 2016/ Marian Kamensky
Another terrorist attack in Europe: now in Berlin.  A truck ploughed through a Christmas market in the Charlottenburg district in Berlin and killed twelve people and injured 48 others. No, it's not an accident, as some pundits initially assumed,  and frankly it's not relevant whether the perpetrator(s) is crazy, a lone wolf, self-radicalized in his basement, inspired by Isis, instructed by Isis or part of a terrorist network. That's for the security agencies to investigate and find out and for the political leaders to act upon. And no, this is not something we in Europe need to get used to, as some others seem to imply. Also it's not relevant that driving a car could be riskier than walking through a Christmas market in Germany - or elsewhere in Europe. Lastly, another false argument explaining or even defending the lack of action against terrorism is that there is nothing we can do to protect everyone in every public space against these kind of attacks. 

These are all false or irrelevant arguments. The bottom line is that this has been another atrocious attack against innocent victims, and even if it never happened again at least twelve people died and their families and friends will never be able to see them again. Besides this human loss of life,  there are the injured survivors, like Iñaki Ellakuria, a 21-year-old Erasmus exchange student from the Basque town of Bilbao, who was written about in The Guardian:

"...he said a black truck had smashed into the market’s wooden booths and “rolled over everything. It rolled over me and both my legs.” He said that the pain was unbearable, the worst he had experienced. Other people helped him as he lay shivering on the ground. The attack left him with a broken tibia and fibula, a broken ankle and a broken hip...."

In addition to these human tragedies, there is the emotional carnage. This was an attack during the Christmas festivities, when many Christians celebrate this most important of religious holidays, but also many non-Christians celebrate being with friends and family during the dark days of winter. This was an attack against European culture.

This is not something we should get used to. Politicians or pundits who claim so, are no longer credible. It's time for......

....a concerted effort and action now, not next month, not next year. It's time to call things as they are, to use common sense, be smart and tough and come up with a plan of action. This can be at the individual level such as speaking up for civilization and for humanity, for the rule of law and for intolerance of destruction and barbarism. This can be at the community level, where people get together and discuss openly that something needs to be done to stop this disaster from spreading through Europe as an infectious disease. This can be at a political level, where politicians and government representatives stop believing in fairytales and actually do something to protect its citizens and its civilization. Many suggestions have been made, some more sensible than others, hardly any by current political leadership in Germany or elsewhere in Western Europe. I will elaborate on possible approaches to this problem a next time, but for now it suffices to say that as the proverb goes it doesn't make sense to try to empty the ocean with a thimble.

The current situation is dramatic for those Europeans who fought and died for our liberties and freedoms during the last century and many centuries before, and those other Europeans who created and built our culture  and civilizations from the Greeks to the Romans and Byzantines, from the Venetians to the Flemish and Dutch merchants, from the British industrialists to German businessmen, from the many artists, composers and painters to the writers, architects, philosophers, and scientists. These "founding fathers" of Europe would turn in their graves if they knew that in the 21st century our so-called European civilization squandered their heritage and let the barbarians take over.

If the current German and European leaders do not see this situation for what it is, a clash - maybe not a conventional war, but a clash nonetheless between civilization and terrorism, between Western values and radical islam,  between innocent citizens and twisted individuals - which needs immediate planning and action, then our European liberties and civilization will atrophy slowly but surely and more people will perish. I can't say I am terribly comfortable waiting for actions by the European leadership, but for now I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. They are on notice, however, and the clock is ticking.

Europe doesn't want its public life under siege, it doesn't want more senseless victims, it doesn't want more solemn but obligatory speeches by its political leaders, candlelight memorials or more cartoons depicting these tragedies. The time has come that every European needs to ask itself what kind of society do you want to live in and what are you willing to do to maintain it, on an individual, community or political level. The time for misconceived tolerance, passivity and inaction has passed.

Charlie Hebdo Attack Jan. 2015:

Paris Attacks November 2015/ Jean Jullien

Brussels Attack March 2016/talendblog

Nice Attack July 2016/ Carlos Latuff

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