As the terrible news of the terrorist attacks in Brussels continues to come in, we should understand a few important things in the days and weeks ahead.
First, we should expect European leaders and the media to double down on their pious exhortations not to conflate Syrian refugees with terrorists and to resist “Islamophobia,” as if suspicion about unassimilated Muslim enclaves in Europe is a greater threat than the terrorists hiding in them. We heard this almost before the smoke cleared from the Paris attacks in November, and we will continue to hear it.
Never mind that some of the Paris attackers slipped into Europe posing as refugees. Never mind that the relevant data suggests a majority of those entering Europe are not refugees at all but economic migrants. Never mind that Salah Abdeslam, the mastermind of the November attacks in Paris whose capture on Friday likely triggered Tuesday’s attacks, was running a still-active terrorist cell likely made up of ISIS fighters from Syria and European-born Muslims. European leaders, such as they are, understand these things. They have simply chosen to bear the consequences. “We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened,” Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel said at a news conference Tuesday.
Europe must answer a question it has been avoiding since the end of World War II: what is the purpose of immigration?