Manhattan Institute

No Place Truly Safe

The Barcelona attack reminds us that jihadists declared war on the West long ago—and that the war goes on.

We hadn’t traveled together outside the country—the country, in our case, being Norway—all summer, so a few weeks ago we decided to plan a brief, cheap trip to somewhere else in Europe. We put together a list of our favorite cities, plus a few we haven’t yet gotten to. We checked out airfares and hotel prices. And we consulted a color-coded map of Europe that I’d run across online. The darker the color of the country, the greater the likelihood, according to experts, that it will be a terrorist target in the near future. We love Berlin and Munich, but Angela Merkel’s madness has made those cities unappealing destinations, so we crossed them off immediately. We also love Paris, but the recent terrorist attacks there, not to mention the ever-worsening immigrant crime situation and the pictures we’d seen of refugees camped out on the streets, led us to cross it off our list.

Mind you, it’s not just a matter of not wanting to be blown up. It’s about the fact that places like Paris and Berlin just don’t feel the same. It’s also about not wanting to make even a piddling contribution to the economy of a country that has pursued irresponsible immigration and integration policies. London? No. I don’t want to spend my vacation money in a country that lets in jihad-preaching imams while banning Robert Spencer.

I’d go to any of these places for work reasons, but not for a vacation. Even a war correspondent doesn’t vacation in a war zone.

A sensible choice would have been Prague or Budapest: on the color-coded map, the nations of Eastern Europe, owing to their sensible border policies, are white or pale yellow, meaning very safe. But we just didn’t feel like Eastern Europe this time around.

So we decided on Barcelona. We’d been to Spain multiple times, but never its second most-populous city. It seemed a sensible choice: it didn’t come up often in discussions of possible terrorist targets.

We were planning to go sometime around now. We’d picked out a hotel and found a decent airfare. But at the last minute, we decided that we didn’t feel sufficiently adventurous. It would have involved long days of walking and visits to several must-see places, from the Sagrada Familia to the Picasso Museum. So we opted for Copenhagen, a more familiar, closer destination, where we could drop in to our favorite bars, wander around Tivoli, and have some nice dinners.

We’d only been back home for a few days when news broke of the Barcelona attack. People had been mowed down by a truck on La Rambla, a popular tourist street. It was Nice and London Bridge all over again. Reportedly, at least 13 people are dead—people who, in the seconds before their murder, had been strolling down a pretty, sunny boulevard. We could’ve easily been among them.

A quick search just now led me to an article from last May noting that terrorism fears had diminished American tourism to Paris, London, and Berlin. Barcelona, however, perceived as safer, had “become one of Europe’s tourism hotspots,” with La Rambla “packed from morning well into the evening” during the summer months.

Forget the color-coded maps. It’s all a crapshoot, all guesswork. No place in Western Europe is truly safe from the warriors of Islam. Their goal is nothing less than the conquest of the continent. They’re at war with us, and the easiest victims for them to pick off are those of us who—on holiday in some unfamiliar city, map and camera in hand—are, for the moment anyway, the least aware that we, too, whether we like it or not, are at war with them.

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