Bedenkingen, mijmeringen, oprispingen.

vrijdag 28 maart 2014



Dear All,

I’m reminded that when President John Adams used to walk from his modest home to the White House there was nary a bodyguard hovering solicitously near him. Any citizen could come and greet him and exchange greetings or opinions. I went to a lecture in Brussels on Wednesday, unaware that President Obama was in Belgium and was descending on that city for various official functions including an invitation to address a conclave of 2000 persons.

After lunch with a friend we tried to wend our way to the lecture and we spent the next 90 minutes looping around in the fashion of the Red Baron as avenue  after avenue and road after road were closed off and manned by various tough-looking police. Rubbish bins were sealed; manhole covers bolted; many subways were closed; and there was an incessant clatter of helicopters  up above trying to photograph me for the “ Scraggly Pensioner of the Year Award.’ What caused me really to gawp like Gary Cooper playing a winsome country boy innocent was that President Obama had brought with him some 300 security personnel plus 600 other persons such as business tycoons and foreign affair specialists.  I saw for the first time ever masked snipers on top of buildings. It gave me a frisson of excitement. I was also told by my short of sleep friend, that an AWACS had been flying around Brussels the previous night until 3.00 AM.

Some hundreds of thousands of people were inconvenienced and business suffered that day. All very democratic. Now I wonder since Belgium has splendid castles in the countryside; similarly large hotels in pristine rural settings;  and Gothic follies ( not to speak of my follies) why couldn’t the whole travelling charabanc go to somewhere more isolated and pontificate in a peaceful setting leaving the rest of us alone.

The real irony of the day for me was that  I was going to the first of two lectures on Muslims. Hence the extraordinary security measures. All sorts of plot possibilities exist - from deranged individuals to the extreme right or left, but  it seems to me at the head of the list of probabilities are the hyper mobile Muslim terrorist jihadists. The lecture was superb, given by Professor Emeritus, Felipe Dassetto, analysing the origins of Moroccan and Turkish migration to Belgium in the early 1960s. He approached the subject from the point of view of a sociologist, cultural anthropology and economics. I certainly  learned a great deal. After the war Belgium had a great need of manpower to power up its industries, especially the mines in Wallonia. Southern European workers came, especially Italians from their war devastated country. What is so fascinating is the survey done 10 years or so after, when many italians expressed a sense  of dislocation and felt more Italian than Belgian.

The Muslims started to arrive  in the mid-sixties. The first generation worked hard and lived in very humble circumstances. It is with their children or grandchildren caught between two worlds and responding to the tumults in Muslim countries that one sees some plunging into criminality or jihadism. What is so disturbing is the incapacity of so many Muslim youngsters to acquire more than a superficial education and to get work. The unemployment rate among Arab youngsters is the highest of any group in Belgium and I suspect they have the same difficulties in many stagnating European economies. The Professor felt that it would take four generations for the job of integration to function. I hope he is right - I have my doubts.

Best regards,

4 opmerkingen:

  1. Been through the hassle trying to get to our condo every time Obama came home to Chicago. Every thing shut down hours before he showed up. The thousands trying to get home, work or whatever were irrelevant.

    I particularly enjoyed your last paragraph.


  2. Tony .. ..

    Interesting and no doubt completely correct.

    I spent a six month internship with Swiss Credit in Zurich during the Winter of 65-66. Germany was then importing many "temporary" Turks to fill its labor ranks, and there was doubt about the wisdom of it even then.

    As for the "Emperor", I suspect that all of the protection really was intended to divert notice that he has no clothes.

    Regards .. .. Chip

  3. Thanks. Interesting.

    On a minor point but one of annoyance: whenever the President goes anywhere the entire city is shut down. When he comes to Boston, you cannot move anywhere. It is a regrettable fall-out of the times we live in, but then again it is nothing new. For example, in 1987 I was in central Paris during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the French Republic (of course, Republic(S) as the French went through more governmental forms than bottles of wine) and we were totally hassled; could not even get to our hotel a couple of nights without a huge fight. People with machine guns on every roof. The Louvre was shut along with many other places which you expect to see when in Paris. The reason: heads of state visiting for the celebration. But particularly, said the press, the US President; seemingly the Secret Service had taken an aggregate of 500 hotel rooms in various locations; maybe urban myth but it was believed given the dislocation. And this 24 years before 9/11. Cops really love this stuff, you know....

    If I can, when Obama comes to Boston I work from home. If he wants to see me, he and Michelle just have to come out to Newton again....

  4. I have my doubts too. De islam kent nu eenmaal geen libido sciendi! wat vroeger eventueel aan wetenschap bestond, kon bestaan ondanks de islam of werd geleverd door Arabisch sprekende christenen, Byzantijnse christenen, nestorianen en Joden.
    Leopold II kon zijn hondje ook alleen uitlaten, van ver gevolgd door één politie-agent....