As I write this, a terrorist bomb has gone off in Belgium. The news reports are still early, but so far they tell us that at least 31 people are dead and dozens more injured. The bombs were in a crowded airport and a jammed rush-hour commuter train. People were killed as they went about their regular daily activities, coming home from work, traveling to see relatives, headed out on a business trip, going sightseeing. Regular people who never bothered anyone, for as far as I know, the people of Brussels have not gone on any rampages to hurt other nations in recent weeks.
This is on the heels of the terrorist attacks in Paris about four months ago that killed 130 and wounded 368, and the attacks in the offices of a Paris magazine a year ago that killed 17 and wounded 22.
Those responsible for this latest attack in Belgium have not yet been determined. Let’s see if we can guess the responsible party. Perhaps marauding Methodists? Radical Presbyterians bent on a rampage? Maybe it was insane Baptists pushed over the edge by the idea of someone dancing across town. Or maybe it was crazy Buddhists who had meditated too long. Violent Bahai’s? Jealous Jews? Murderous followers of Confucius?
Somehow I do not think so. If the pattern holds, it will be followers of Islam, which those in America have labeled “the religion of peace.” If the pattern holds, those on the social left will be quick to tell us that most Muslims are peaceful and that the US is not at war with Islam. This is true of course. But they seem to fail to recognize that some members of Islam have been at war with us for quite a while now. They also fail to tell us that a small percentage of Islam, perhaps 15 percent, are following a long, long historical tradition of violence that is bred in that religion. If 85 percent of Muslims are peaceful, the violent 15 percent makes up over 200 million people in the world who have declared war on western civilization and are actively seeking to kill innocent people who are going to work, playing with their children, or sightseeing.
Today’s news quoted French Prime Minister Manuel Valls as saying “We are at war. We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war.” While an iron boot to the throat of the violent Muslims will perhaps do some good — Saddam Hussain kept the peace by killing them in the back room — we are fighting a war of ideas, one for which a secular west is quite unprepared. Only until we return to fighting as Thomas Aquinas did in his work Summa Contra Gentiles will we have a chance of ultimately winning. That work was a manual for missionaries who were going to interact with a culture influenced by Islam.