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Dunkirk and Brussels

I saw Dunkirk today. For a WWII movie, it was surprisingly low-violence, nothing like Saving Private Ryan, the opening scene of which so movingly illustrated the pointless slaughter of war. Yet in another way, the first few seconds of Dunkirk was more disturbing. We are used to WWII movies set on the bombed out ruins of shattered cities, but the Battle of Dunkirk was right at the start of the war. There is something just profoundly disturbing about seeing soliders flee machine guns in a charming European city, no different from the Belgian sea-side towns of today.

My first thought was revulsion, I hope to never see the military occupying my beloved home cities. My second thought, following rapidly, was anger - I do see military vehicles and machine-gun wielding soliders on a daily basis. For the last 18 months, Brussels has been living under military occupation. This cowardly and repressive action does nothing for our safety; it is designed to bolster fear and feed upon that fear for short-term political gain. 18 months in, this seems like the new reality, with the government too gutless to admit it was wrong to respond to a criminal situation with tanks instead of police and social workers. I love Belgium, but I hate, and will always hate, living in an occupied city, where my 6 year old son doesn't blink twice at casually seeing machine guns.

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