PALM BEACH — As a reporter in these parts for 20 years, I’ve run into Donald Trump more than any other celebrity, and he’s done me tremendous professional favors over the years.
As a presidential candidate, however, I believe Trump has been trash.
Except for this: He’s been right about my birth country of Belgium, especially as the smoke clears on Brussels after this morning’s terror attacks killed 30 people and injured 230.
And if these United States of America, my adoptive country, never remember a thing about Trump when the election is over, we should for ever heed his warnings about immigration.
European governments have lost control of who’s coming and going within their borders, and now war scenes are playing out on a routine basis.
Trump obviously spent some time in Brussels a few decades ago, about the time I served in the Belgian NATO forces.
Both he and I remember a comfortably open world-class city where murder was practically non-existent.
Brussels, Trump rightfully told the world, has become a rat-hole.
And how the city, and the country around it, got there should serve as a lesson for the United States.
A series of factors led to today’s attacks — not the least of which is festering Muslim radicalism in suburbs abandoned by overwhelmed local authorities to poor, uneducated immigrants from the Middle East and, mostly, North Africa.
The problems that boiled to the surface today also include the traditional permissiveness of the Belgian government, permissiveness fostered by the belief that only extreme crime should lead to punishment.
And today brings into the spotlight other issues:
— The opening of borders to immigrants who, from the inset, have no chance to be gobbled up into the mainstream, immigrants who have no desire to assimilate into a society that doesn’t want them
— Radical government-imposed accommodations for those immigrants, including the appearance of mosques and Islam classes in the tax-funded schools of once-homogeneous villages and towns
— Political correctness that stymied a real debate about immigration imposed on a society that, until 40 years ago, was 95 percent Christian, uni-racially white and socio-economically uniform
Today’s bombings are not the only signs something’s deeply wrong.
Until he was arrested last week Salah Abdeslam, one of the Nov. 13 terror suspects in Paris, had been hiding FOR FOUR MONTHS in diverse apartments in and around Brussels.
Abdeslam’s protection logically involved dozens of accomplices, dozens of individuals ready to sacrifice everything to hide someone partly responsible for the deaths of 129 people in Paris.
Today’s terror attacks involved at least four suicide bombers, two at the airport and two in the Brussels subway.
How many accomplices?
Hundreds may have helped, even if their only involvement was to keep silent.
Trump’s contention that U.S. borders should be shut to all Muslims or that a wall should be built on the Mexican border is utter nonsense.
But Trump rightfully has revived the immigration debate by taking Belgium as an example.
He should keep at it until November, and constantly remind us that, while 9-11 was the result of cowardly acts from outsiders, terror now comes from within.