- - Thursday, August 24, 2017


April in Paris. Autumn in Rome. White nights in Stockholm and Oslo. All suggest long, languorous walks through Europe’s great capitals. In Europe as nearly everywhere else, the cliche is true: the best way to see a city is on foot.

But like many pleasures of modern life, the pleasant stroll is more and more challenged throughout many European cities. The New York Times took a survey of the streets and avenues of Europe and found concrete barriers in front of Milan’s gothic cathedral and lining London and Westminster Bridges, bollards and steel fences obstructing access to the beach in Nice.

There may be no practical alternative to safe and ugly, as airline travelers learned years ago that making the trip to Europe is something to dread. Getting there is none of the fun. The cities of Europe now live under the constant threat of radical Islamic terror attack by car and truck. Nice, Berlin, Barcelona, London and Stockholm have all felt such violence.

Terrorists working with ISIS have discovered that running over innocent pedestrians is an easy and highly lethal way to terrorize the masses. One ISIS commander, now gone to paradise to count his virgins, once gave instructions on how to deal with the infidels in the West: “smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.” (After that, we presume, no more Mr. Nice Guy.)

Murder on the streets is the ISIS way of war in public spaces. ISIS now targets concerts, beaches, and cafes, places where people once felt safe. As a result, some European cities are forced to reorganize and strengthen defenses as if they are war zones, which, in fact, they are. It’s appalling and nothing short of tragic.

It’s also a darkly ironic. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a burst of appeasement of national guilt for the sins of the past, flung open Germany’s borders to more than a million unvetted “refugees,” and surprise: Her rash invitation has consequences. Some are economic. Many of the new arrivals are incapable of working in a modern economy, for example, and will draw welfare benefits, probably in perpetuity. Other consequences are social, asking whether Germany’s social cohesion will survive the strain of taking in so many new immigrants from cultures that are not only unfamiliar with basic Western standards of behavior, but are hostile to those standards.

Other consequences will, alas, be security related. Failed asylum seekers in Europe have committed terrorist attacks; others have been detained planning them. Inevitably, there’s more to come. Frau Merkel’s decision not to impose exterior barriers is forcing many European cities to erect interior barriers within their own cities. Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences. She should have known better.

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