Terror in Europe

Europe Under Siege, Welcome To The Rest Of The World

Bewildering technology and savage capitalism fuels desperation and hatred against the West. War was declared a long time ago, and the underdeveloped world are the primary victims.

Europe Under Siege, Welcome To The Rest Of The World
Luis I. Sandoval M

BOGOTÁ The Nov. 13 attacks in Paris were a veritable slap in the face of the old Western world. While France actively participates in bombing territories ruled by ISIS, Western media hide the perversity of the situation: France bombing with planes, in representation of a legitimate international order, and ISIS responding with bullets, car bombs and kamikazes.

No form of terror is acceptable, rationally speaking, but it would be difficult not to see the link between conventional aggression and a terrorist action — both being undeniably political in nature.

France is taking the wrong path when its president declares it is at war and will be merciless with the terrorists and the states backing them. It's the same mistake President George W. Bush made in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York.

The measures being taken address the problem's effects, not its causes. Sealing borders, boosting checks, searching properties without court orders, sending troops onto the streets and declaring a state of emergency are perhaps necessary now, particularly because they give the public the impression that authorities are concerned and working.

But the problem is elsewhere, in the structure of international relations and the reality of a world where certain countries or blocks impose themselves on others, coveting their riches and despising their cultures. In this current crisis, the despotic, exclusive and predatory chain replicates itself in the family, the workplace, in the bureaucratic state and supranational institutions and in our relationship with nature.

France says it remains the land of liberty, equality and fraternity. Yet it is one of the places where xenophobia is most strident. Brotherhood is no longer one of the world's preachable virtues, as Antoni Domènech wrote in The Eclipse of Fraternity.

The Old World wants to shut out immigration in the middle of a recession. Catalonia no longer wants to be in Spain, so it can enjoy its wealth alone. These exclusive tendencies take their inspiration from a collective — and inflated — selfishness.

I suspect the attacks and massive migrations that are stretching European tolerance to its limits are part of a single trend. Insatiable capitalism and relentless technological advances have "globalized" or shrunk the world, but people are still not globalized. They don't have the same freedom of movement as capital or information, nor are all men and women recognized as citizens with equal rights or able to enjoy their full rights. Frontiers continue to obstruct the world.

As the author José Saramago said, displacement from South to North is inevitable. Walls and fences are no good. Millions will come, and the hungry will overwhelm Europe. They are coming to get what we took from them, he observed, and there is no turning back because they have been eyeing their "ration" for centuries.

A new division of riches is afoot. The trumpets are sounding and hate is staring us in the face. Where are the politicians who are able to handle this state of affairs?

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Society

Face In The Mirror: Dutch Hairdressers Trained To Recognize Domestic Violence

Early detection and accessible help are essential in the fight against domestic violence. Hairdressers in the Dutch province of North Brabant are now being trained to identify when their customers are facing abuse at home.

Hair Salon Rob Peetoom in Rotterdam

Daphne van Paassen

TILBURG — The three hairdressers in the bare training room of the hairdressing company John Beerens Hair Studio are absolutely sure: they have never seen signs of domestic violence among their customers in this city in the Netherlands. "Or is that naïve?"

When, a moment later, statistics appear on the screen — one in 20 adults deals with domestic violence, as well as one or two children per class — they realize: this happens so often, they must have victims in their chairs.

All three have been in the business for years and have a loyal clientele. Sometimes they have customers crying in the chair because of a divorce. According to Irma Geraerts, 45, who has her own salon in Reusel, a village in the North Brabant region, they're part-time psychologists. "A therapist whose hair I cut explained to me that we have an advantage because we touch people. We are literally close. The fact that we stand behind people and make eye contact via the mirror also helps."

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