Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pork and Wine

I feel like I ought to say something about Brussels, but really, what can I say? Having just been there a few weeks ago, the attacks make me think back on that day, on my explorations of the city and the people and places I encountered. I thought of my super-angry, super-secretive assailant, and whether he could have been involved in this plot, or one like it. You just never know.

When I walked through the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, I was just a block or two away from where Belgian police captured the Paris bombing suspect last Friday.

I don't have any answers. They are above my pay grade. I do wonder if Europe will have to tighten its internal borders and restrict the free flow of people between its member nations. That might help at least keep tabs on potentially dangerous individuals and their locations. You hate to think that we need to surrender some of our own freedoms to fight terrorism, but we're doing it every day already, taking our shoes off at airports and walking through metal detectors at countless public venues. An obligatory stop at an international border doesn't seem so far-fetched.

We don't yet know who the bombers were, but I think this nonetheless shows why it's essential to control and organize the flow of refugees out of the Middle East. I'm not saying refugees perpetrated these attacks -- in fact it's unlikely -- but we have to know who's here, at least as much as is possible in this era of potentially forged documentation and scant available public records. I'm all for helping refugees, but it has to be done in an orderly fashion, and it has to be a global effort -- not one that falls solely on the shoulders of Europe.

As an only tangentially related aside, I mentioned that Dave was in Doha, Qatar, last week with a student group. Apparently Qatar is a dry country, so alcohol was not easily available -- in fact, at the airport, the guards confiscated alcohol they found in passengers' luggage. It's apparently very safe overall and Dave said his group had a good time, but he wasn't impressed with such restrictions. When he got home the first thing he said was, "We're having pork and wine for dinner!"

(Photo: A tile mosaic of an alligator in a doorway in Soho.)


  1. Pork and wine for dinner. Yes, right.

    And Brussels, I was thinking this morning about your super-angry, super-secretive assailant and what might have been behind his attitude. I'm quite despondent (maybe not the right choice of words) about the situation. When I chose to holiday in Belgium 2 years ago I never envisaged something like this happening. It's terrible. As for the reasoning behind it - everyone has an opinion but I feel you need to know the people and their circumstances to really know the reasoning, however crazy it might appear to everyone else.

    I'll step down off my soapbox now.

    Ms Soup

  2. It's everywhere now... But living in London I suppose it wouldn't stop you travelling here again as it happened over there as well. Craziness!

  3. Ms. Soup: I'm despondent too.

    MWA: Well, exactly. It could happen here just as easily as there. I'll keep traveling to all these places as long as I possibly can!

    (Addendum: And now it seems the bombers have been identified -- and they're common criminals. They may have delusions of religious belief but it sounds to me as if they've led distinctly un-Muslim lives.)

  4. I somehow missed the post about your Brussels assailant, so I just finished reading it. I then read the comments, which in light of yesterday's attacks, seemed so innocent. The general thought was that your attacker was just a sad, unbalanced individual. Now I'm convinced that he was more likely part of some dark and lethal plan.
    We have a trip to Europe coming up in a couple of weeks. Gotta say I'm having a few mixed feelings about it now.

  5. I hate to say this but I am relegating all of this new horror to a category which is probably labeled "Things I Can Do Nothing About."
    It's horrible and I feel terrible for the victims and their families and for the entire country but I have no answers whatsoever.

  6. I don't know the process in Europe for admitting refugees but here it can take up to two years. much easier for a terrorist to just get a travel visa. and really, we are in far more danger every day here from all those gun toting yahoos who think guns are the solution to every problem. and what with the anger and hate ratcheting up...well, you get the picture. I don't have an answer but I'm pretty sure more violence isn't it.

  7. What you have said is very reasonable (much appreciated!). Also agree with Ellen Abbott when she points out that in the U.S., we are in more danger from gun-toting yahoos who believe that guns are the solution to everything.

    Was in Dubai a few years ago. Alcohol was available in the major hotels and at designated stations out in the desert, where only foreigners with special ID cards could buy it. Pork, I imagine, would have been harder to come by.

  8. Above my pay grade, too. But you've offered a thoughtful analysis here. I was happy when one of our new prime minister's first actions was to open Canada to 25,000 refugees. But it's still a trickle compared to Europe's situation. I read an interesting article recently about Germany's efforts to encourage refugees to go home by offering them money to start businesses in their home countries. It's a fresh idea that appears to be accepted well by many of them.

  9. My son is traveling around Europe with a friend, leaving in three weeks or so, and Brussels was on the itinerary. I am quieting the irrational part of me that worries for their safety. It's so random in a way, and yet, planned. I have no answers. I only know we cannot hide in our homes and remove ourselves from the world at large. Honestly, this is when I pray.

  10. Recruitment seems to be a challenge. they can recruit European born people to carry out terrorist acts.