Libertarian Commentary #16-17D, for 19 April 2016 by Nathan Barton
After the attacks by Islamic terrorists in France and Belgium, the entire continent has been in a state of panic and turmoil. Nowhere more so than in Belgium, that tiny divided country that only exists because of a religion that most of its population no longer believe in. So this weekend, thousands took to the streets in Brussels for an anti-terror march, as reported in the BBC [http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36067404]. “At least 7,000 people took to the streets of Brussels in a march ‘against terror and hate.’ Heading the processions were some of those caught up in the suicide bomb attacks on Belgium’s airport and metro station that killed 32 people. A Belgian broadcaster described the march as ‘calm and silent.’ The march had been due to be held a week after the 22 March attacks, but officials asked for it to be postponed because of the security threat.”
I am sure that many of those 7,000 people thought that they were being brave, that they were taking a stand, and that what they were doing was going to make a difference. What a staggering thought: 7,000 out of 1,139,000 Brussels residents, out of 11,400,000 Belgian residents (not “Belgians” since a larger and larger percentage of those living in Belgium are not Belgians: many are various nationalities of Africans and even more are various subjects of the Dar-al-Islam). No doubt some feared that terrorist suicide-bombers would blow holes into their mass.
Most people today have grown up on stories of the brave, heroic mass marches of the like of Martin Luther King, Junior, and the protests against the Vietnam War in America, and the various protests in Europe in 1968 and the various “color revolutions” in Central (formerly Eastern) Europe in the 1990s.
Of course, they have also grown up with a steady diet of “democracy” and the essential role of the government as protector, nanny, guide, dispenser of both essentials and luxuries, and the benevolent role it plays. At least the role it plays once you discount and claim to have gotten rid of the evils of National Socialism and Fascism and all their variants, just 70 years ago.
The plain truth is that none of what they have grown up with is true. And certainly none of this applies to Belgium in 2016. Democracy? Even if those 7,000 people actually each represent 100 persons, that is only 700,000 people: not even 1/15th of the nation’s population. Hardly a democratic majority.
Of course, that does not mean that more than 10 million Belgians SUPPORT terrorism. We can safely assume that the vast majority of those just do not care one way or another. Or we can realize that, rather, we can assume that the majority of Belgians DO support terrorism. At least terrorism the way a rational person would define it: a rational person not warped by their childhood and training. The Kingdom of Belgium is, after all, is a founding member of NATO and the location of both the political and military headquarters of NATO, as well as home of the government of the European Union. Both organizations wage acts of terror against the people of a dozen different nations in the Dal-al-Islam on a nearly daily basis.
And I would imagine if you had an election or conducted an honest poll of Belgians – even Belgian residents, you would find 99.9% AGAINST terrorism – but just terrorism as THEY define it. Just as Belgian leaders and soldiers and citizens in the street do not define NATO’s acts of war in the Middle East and Africa as terrorism, so the Muslims now living in Belgium do NOT consider the attacks, including the suicide bomb attacks and assaults with weapons on businesses and public places, as acts of terrorism: they are acts of submission to Allah, and by definition NOT terrorism.
The truth is, the very few times that such “peaceful” protest marches have produced any measurable results at all in history has been when a society is fractured and in delicate balance in which just a few people changing their mind about an issue (segregation, for instance) can make a big difference. But even then, the march(es) are just a tiny part of a larger effort, even a mass movement in society. One in which INDIVIDUALS (admittedly by the millions) have changed their mind AND were willing to act on it. But this march, and this situation, is not such a time.
If the people of Brussels and Belgium want to end the threat of terrorism, either Islamic or European/Western, in Belgium and the rest of Europe, they need to take personal responsibility for their own defense, and hold their “leaders” personally responsible for their actions which promote and provoke acts of terror by anyone. And, as well may be necessary, they need to rise up against those who promote, provoke, and commit those acts. All the marches in the world will do nothing: the acts of a few brave and determined people to take action AND responsibility for their own lives and those of their families and neighbors.
A couple of centuries ago, that is what a few brave men (and women) did in Massachusetts Bay Colony. The protests, peaceful or not, did not make a difference: Massachusetts did not regain its lost liberty thanks to the Boston Tea Party or the Boston Massacre (actually a protest march that turned ugly), but due to those ordinary people who responded to and fought against tyranny in action: first at Lexington and Concord and then in the trenches around Boston. This still is true in 2016.