I'VE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE

Posted in Uncategorized on July 15th, 2016 by Ed

No Politics Friday is canceled. For obvious reasons.

I'm not the smartest person in the world, but I've read enough to know where this is going. To know how it ends. To see what happens when people become sufficiently fearful of The Other to weaken their attachment to civil liberties and embrace authoritarianism as it seduces them with promises of greater security. We've seen this before and I don't like where we're heading at all.

In Mexico, for example, the insane levels of violence that have resulted from the so-called Drug War have left better off Mexicans more than willing to give up rights, freedoms, and liberties (at least in theory) in exchange for greater security. In Europe, no matter how much they enjoy looking down their noses at the United States for our obvious problems with race and state-administered violence, their commitment to cultural liberalism crumbles fairly easily in the face of non-European immigration.

The ISIS plan all along – and without commenting on the morality of it, it's hard not to recognize its brilliance – has been to radicalize European Muslims by provoking extreme reactions from European non-Muslims. Despite the prejudices and social isolation they no doubt encounter, European Muslims have developed an appreciation for life in Europe over the last three decades. Yes, there is no doubt that they experience prejudice and racism and the sharp end of the stick of xenophobia, but if you asked the average Muslim immigrant to Europe how life there compares to life in Syria or Turkey or Iraq, they're going to look you in the eye and say "This is just fine." So ISIS endeavors to create enough chaos to provoke a far-right reaction from European governments which will allow them to tell European Muslims, "See? We told you so! Look at how these white Europeans treat you!"

I'm afraid, given the number of major terrorist attacks in Europe over the past year, that the strategy is on the verge of working. Far-right nationalist parties have been doing better than usual in European elections for the past few years, and xenophobia is on the rise everywhere. A nation partial to cultural hegemony like France is not far away from getting a decent amount of public support behind an idea like "Let's round up all the Muslims and put them in camps." It's plausible because there really is no means for a modern nation-state to stop attacks as low tech as what we've seen lately. The attack in Nice required nothing more than access to a truck. The pool of people in Europe who meet that stringent criteria number in the tens of millions.

What has been seen recently in Europe is not 9/11, not the London 7/7 bombings, not the Madrid train attacks. We have seen attacks lately that literally cannot be stopped because they are so low tech. It takes no sophistication, no ISIS coordination, no detailed planning to mount an attack along the lines of, "Let's go somewhere with lots of people and shoot a bunch of them" or "Let's find a big crowd and drive a truck into it." As people across Europe try to come to grips with the inability of states to grapple with these one- or two-man terrorist attacks, far right wing authoritarianism is going to appeal to more and more of the population. There is no way to stop one man acting alone driving a truck into a crowd of people; so, anyone pushing the message, "Let's get rid of all of Those People" will have the upper hand.

I do not like where this is headed. I do not like it one bit.