The range of words said after any terrorist attack is, by now, quite predictable. This morning in Brussels, Belgium, more than 200 people were killed or seriously injured (including one who is First Degree Kevin Bacon from me). Right away, the world's leaders and television pundits started using words like, "solidarity," "we stand with Brussels," "despicable acts of violence" and "our prayers go out to the victims and their families."
Here's what Republican presidential leader Donald Trump said on his favorite medium, Twitter: "Do you all remember how beautiful and safe a place Brussels was. Not anymore, it is from a different world! U.S. must be vigilant and smart!" Doesn't that make you feel more secure? It sure does me. Trump has not only apparently been to Brussels (and you haven't), but he added that he'd engage in water boarding and beyond to gain intel from captured, suspected terrorists. Nobody lies to Donald, after all, save his several wives and mirrors, perhaps.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton clichéd it: "Terrorists have once again struck at the heart of Europe, but their campaign of hate and fear will not succeed. The people of Brussels, of Europe, and of the world will not be intimidated by these vicious killers. Today Americans stand in solidarity with our European allies. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded, and all the people of Belgium. These terrorists seek to undermine the democratic values that are the foundation of our alliance and our way of life, but they will never succeed. Today's attacks will only strengthen our resolve to stand together as allies and defeat terrorism and radical jihadism around the world."
Her Hobo Stew response is simply a pile of recycled crap.
Gov. Kasich used Twitter like an old hand, redirecting people to his website with, "Gov. John Kasich's statement on the terrorist attacks in #Brussels." Once on his campaign webpage, it's quickly obvious that Ohio Republican is a simple man, barely moving in his several hundred words from the trifecta of mass murder responses: "Solidarity," "democratic values" and "thoughts and prayers." Just change the location and his response is already in queue for the next event.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, also redirected his Twitter followers to his campaign homepage where he kept it simple, echoing the sentiment in his original Tweet: "We offer our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this barbaric attack and to the people of Brussels." Well, now we're getting somewhere. Sanders didn't stop at "deep condolences." He also added a most appropriate label to the Brussels perpetrators: Barbarians.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz was predictably predictable, continuing his presidential race against Barack Obama and promising that he'd superhero morph into a tough guy come January. Said he, "Radical Islam is at war with us. For over seven years we have had a president who refuses to acknowledge this reality. And the truth is, we can never hope to defeat this evil so long as we refuse to even name it. That ends on January 20, 2017, when I am sworn in as president. We will name our enemy—radical Islamic terrorism. And we will defeat it."
Never mind Cruz has no plan (nor friends outside of Sen. Mike Lee), just like all the rest, he simply says we will defeat what he calls "radical Islam." Words, just words and more words, Mr. Cruz. Politicize this all one must, but those words have been used before. Like in 1983 when the Marine barracks in Lebanon were leveled by a suicide bomber, killing 200 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers. The iconic hero of the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, was president.
He didn't do much. Reagan called the act "tragic...brutal...despicable" and later termed the killers "insane." His vice president, George H. W. Bush, opined that, "It's awfully hard to guard against that kind of terrorism; people come out of nowhere to perform these acts," and then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said, "nothing can work against a suicide attack like that, any more than you can do anything against a kamikaze flight." So, those Republican leaders—the same ones currently hailed by Cruz and company for being tough in the Middle East did what everyone has forgotten: They blamed former President Jimmy Carter for security intelligence lapses and ran. Our troops were evacuated from Lebanon.
Press pundits and Reagan critics immediately proclaimed such a move would embolden terrorists, and we could expect more attacks against U.S. targets. Someone got it right, and it doesn't appear to be Reagan. We've attacked, we've left. We've attacked and threatened, all the while exposing ever deeper onion-skin layers of cultural and religious hatreds and rivalries that have spread from Middle East desert villages to downtown Paris, London, Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid and New York City.
Describing today's killers, Sanders used one of the first words I learned: Barbarian. My grandfather spoke it often when describing the Muslim Turks who occupied his beloved island of Crete for 400 years. "They note ceevalized, people, Yiani. They barbarians. They keel," he'd say. And he would know. His seldom-seen father spent his life as a guerrilla fighter in the hills surrounding the Apokoronas region of Crete where his rifle hangs in the village museum in Gavalochori, Crete. It was used more than once.
It took 400 years in Crete, but the barbarians were expelled. Today, we know that bombing will not work. Ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan did not work. And so-called liberals like me best be prepared to go to bat for Belgium and Europe, because they're going to tire of being blown up, and they will soon enough blow back. And it will not be a war of words.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org