By now there is a good chance you’ve heard about the recent ISIS attacks in Brussels. There’s an equally good chance you’ve heard everyone’s solutions to combat these sort of attacks.
The problem is that whenever this kind of attack occurs they always fit so readily into the viewpoints spectators and commentators already held prior to the attack. If you support multiculturalism, this is a clear indication that we need to do a better job of assimilating foreign cultures in with our own; if you oppose multiculturalism, this is a clear indication that the assimilation of vastly contrasting cultures is not possible. Do you blame unchecked immigration, or harsh immigration restrictions? Do you place more blame on Western imperialism, or religious fundamentalism? Is this a perversion of faith, or a reflection of faith itself? Wherever you lie on these spectrums of choices, there’s a good chance you were there already prior to hearing about the attack, and this will further serve as evidence for your views.
I don’t know what the right political or social response is to something like this. I grew up in northern Germany, and in many ways will always identify with the culture of my upbringing no matter where I am, so hearing about an attack like this hits very close to home for me. My first instinct is to not give in to the temptation of calling for vengeance, and remember that if this is to be called an act of barbarianism, becoming barbarians ourselves will not solve the issue. At the same time, the call for nuanced reasoning seems hopeless if the dialogue is one-sided, and little chance exists that the other side will abide by such decorum.
Right now, I think the most appropriate response that I can give is to remove my ego from the field. And to remove those who have died and suffered directly from this attack (and those who have died and suffered from similar attacks hitherto) from the debates that roam in their names. The victims of these attacks have no part in the political or ideological strives that claim their lives and/or cause their grief. Regardless of what you believe the underlying cause for all of this is, we can all agree there is one group of people completely innocent here, and that is the civilians whose lives have been lost; in Brussels, as well as across the globe.