ARE THE DUTCH BECOMING MORE COLOUR SENSITIVE?
This is a post about the international links of the Netherlands and its jerk towards the right of the political spectrum, with uncharacteristic, overt racism expressed freely in the national discourse.
WHOSE COUNTRY IS IT ANYWAY?
When I left the country in 1982, openly racist attitudes were not tolerated among the general population in The Netherlands, with the history fresh on our mind that saw the Dutch Jewish population decimated–more so than in other Nazi-occupied nations–without much resistance from the general population, and in certain areas with the extensive police collaboration with the Nazi Security SD agents raiding and arresting the Jewish-Dutch at their homes.
Since my departure, I observed the tolerant and open society of the Dutch changing at my regular visits to my home country. The Netherlands has reached a higher density of immigrants and migrants–especially from North-African regions–in certain areas. Although the percentage is much lower than assumed, the feeling among many Dutch is that a saturation point is reached.
Dutchnews.nl: Dutch overestimate size of the Netherlands’ Muslim population.
“The average Dutch estimate is that 19% of the population of the Netherlands is Muslim, but the real figure is 6%. These Dutch also expect the Muslim population to grow to 26% by 2020, while official estimates say Muslims will make up 6.9% of the Netherlands’ population by then. In comparison, the widest gap between perception and fact was in France, where the average estimate of the size of the Muslim population was 31%. In reality, the actual Muslim population stood at 7.5%, according to figures from the Pew Research Centre.”
Counter-intuitively, the areas with the highest levels of white supremacist attitudes are not the regions with the highest density of non-white residents. On the contrary, those attitudes are found overwhelmingly in the white enclaves of smaller villages, especially in the south and north of the country, and areas around the IJsselmeer. In the large cities with more diverse populations, more integration led to more harmony and realistic expectations.
Let’s be clear. Racism is not new to the Dutch. Historically, Europeans escaped to Holland when persecuted for their religious beliefs in their home country: Jewish and Huguenots from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition, German Amish and Mennonites on their way to the US, etc. In more recent waves of immigration, the white Dutch population slowly got used to the residents of former Asian and Caribbean colonies mixing in amongst the Dutch, with excesses of actual discrimination always a factor in that adjustment period.
When I still lived in the Netherlands, cops stopped our black employee from the former colony of Surinam more often. The stats indicate non-whites are arrested more often for an offence that a white Dutch might get off on, or for no offence at all. Everybody knows what systemic racism looks like—non-whites overrepresented in jails, earning lower incomes, harder for them to land a job, a rental more often refused, services refused on a whim, etc. etc.
The migrants are generally not earning the highest incomes, so often they end up in the low rent areas of the larger cities, with the side effect that some identity can be maintained among people of the same ethnic group. When different-looking residents moved into an area, the white Dutch then generally moved out. It’s a real phenomenon in this dynamic that the whites (that don’t want to mix) will not integrate, even if the new settlers (migrants, or allochtones) are integrating in the Dutch neighbourhood. The intolerant, white Dutch (autochtones) moved to another, all-white neighbourhood, further away from the older city centres, and into the suburbs, while those that are more open to integration stay. Those autochtones that moved away are able to maintain the myth that they live in a mostly white, Dutch society: out of sight, out of mind.
Until a critical mass of migrants is reached in a certain area or town (or the autochtone Dutch think it is reached), or until they have to move more than once, to avoid the “different” new residents. There is a Dutch saying a jar only lasts in water until it bursts: “de kruik gaat zolang te water tot ze barst”, meaning that only a certain amount of stress, or risk, can be tolerated.
If you think you have to move once, because a Moroccan moved in next to you, or a Somalian refugee, you might accept that. But if you “have” to move again, and again, you are going to be resentful of those that you think “caused” your move, and you are going to be angry. Once an individual, white Dutch (autochtone) reached that point, all of a sudden, the Dutch landscape seems to have too many migrants; never mind that the real issue is, the migrants are integrating and making a life for themselves in the Dutch society, and yes, they do so change the landscape of Dutch society. Then that Dutch person can no longer maintain the myth of living in a white society, or maintain the myth of their own tolerance for other ethnicities.
Some of those autochtone (white) Dutch are vocally resisting the integration of migrants, and are holding on to some sort of birthright–being born white in the Netherlands–that they think should guarantee the country will remain unchanged. Geert Wilders, the fascist politician of the Freedom Party appeals to that sentiment.
Familiar comments are heard in the US, as well as in the UK and the Netherlands about migrants:
- We are losing our country as it was. Our culture is disappearing.
- The Muslims are taking over. We are muslimized.
- The new migrants are changing our laws.
- They are making demands.
- They get more financial support, while we don’t get the same.
- They are taking our jobs. Etc.
Prior to the Dutch federal elections, I listened to Geert Wilders on U-tube and I heard many Dutch state in street interviews they would vote for him. I heard him preach in the US at fascist meetings as well. My blood started to boil. I recognize the fear from what I also hear in Canada among the fearful–that whites are losing their cultural heritage and monopoly, and soon might have to change themselves too, if they want to keep up with the nation’s developments. Imagine that! Change! I say that in a truly democratic nation: No citizen should have more rights than another.
From Vox.com. Updated by Sarah Wildman Mar 15, 2017, 4:50pm EDT the following excerpt summary of Wilders’ activities in the US, with links to the references in that article.
In April 2015, he was invited by Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King to address the Conservative Opportunity Society, a coalition of right-wing politicians in the US House of Representatives. “There is no moderate Islam. Islam has changed Europe beyond recognition,” Wilders told the audience. “Our duty is clear: In order to solve the problem, we have to stop mass immigration to the West from Islamic countries.”
This past summer, he was invited to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. As my colleague Zack Beauchamp wrote at the time, Wilders spoke at a party hosted by internet instigator Milo Yiannopoulos. “I hope that Donald J. Trump wins the election,” Wilders told the crowd. “There is only one Islam, and that Islam has no place in a free society. … We should de-Islamize our societies. It’s a matter of our existence.”
It’s not just ideas that are flowing between the Netherlands and the US, but money. The Dutch press began reporting in 2014 that far right activist David Horowitz of Freedom Center had donated to Wilders in 2012 and 2014. Daniel Pipes, who runs an ultra-conservative organization called the Middle East Forum, has helped support his legal fees.
Last week, the New York Times reported that funding was far more extensive. Horowitz gave Wilders nearly $150,000 over two years. In an interview with the Times, Horowitz described Wilders as “the Paul Revere of Europe.”
THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
We live in a world with large differences between poor countries and rich countries. The world is a changing place and borders have become permeable and international travel became easier, at least in Europe. Politicians’ calls to close the borders, to stop migrants from coming in, are readily absorbed and parroted.
In the meantime, the global corporations are buying into public-funded services, moving production of industries offshore to areas with the lowest labour costs, laying off even more workers in higher paid areas, and the implementation of automation.
Rightist governments in those rich nations are trying to bust the unions and force lower wages, privatize public programs, like education, national security and the military, and allowing corporations (and banks) high incomes from raising interest fees and allowing tax breaks and putting large sums into their own shareholders’ pockets. The lower income and the middle class pay the bill; this is a global trend. An underclass of labourers from abroad are (often illegally) doing the dirtiest jobs. Corruption would be the correct word for this, but the electorate might not see it that way.
I would advocate that citizens everywhere pay more attention to their governments, instead of to their neighbour. If they understood what really is going on within their country’s politics and how it relates to the industrial world, I suspect the issue of race and ethnicity (and its cousin, religion) would quickly disappear.
Trump understands that very well in the USA (and Wilders in The Netherlands). He, the master of smoke and mirrors, magically raised hate to unseen levels by blaming those “others” for the country’s lay-offs and economic decline for the lower and middle class. His message for whites allows them to express what they really think: get those blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, Jews, or brown people out of my backyard.
Anti-Muslim, anti-black, anti-Mexican, in short anti-other, is raised to such levels that the world shakes. Trump and Geert Wilders both play the game of divide and conquer. Both lie and manipulate. OK, I am not a psychiatrist and cannot confirm their mental illness diagnosis, so bite me! We all see there is something seriously wrong with the picture of leaders seeking mass adulation at all cost.
NATO POWERS AND THE UN—LESSONS FROM WORLD WAR II
In history, a small number of overwhelmingly white countries economically exploited the rest of the world, causing poverty, civil strife, and human disasters. Traditionally, rich countries have sent weapons to the poor nations that they have an economic interest in, causing those nations to end up even deeper in debt. Weapons are used to suppress rebel resistance to maintain the status quo, or gain more advantages, for exploitation and to exert influence. In my view, these rich, former colonial powers have a responsibility to assist these poor nations and help solve the civil strive, not to establish a new government that will let them continue to exploit that country for their own profits. The responsible thing to do is to forgive the poor nations’ debts to the IMF, in exchange for the civil strive to end and to restore peace, while utilizing the international bodies, established for that purpose after World War II, like the UN and NATO.
However, that is not happening. Instead, the global corporations try to keep a finger in the pie, just so they can extract more resources, and harness the (increasingly rightist) governments in the rich nations to reach that goal. The best example is the USA: Trump and his cronies caused a coup by appealing to the lowest and basest of all sentiments: Racism and white supremacism and won the election, with (suspected) interference from Russia to discredit the Democratic candidate. Representatives of global corporations have now infiltrated the US government and run it–of course all members within the conservative Republican party and its fascist sub groups.
When powerful nations do not acknowledge their responsibility for international collaboration, like Trump, (yes, and Russia) and willy-nilly bomb other nations-in-trouble on an impulse (Ukraine, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria), our world is increasingly unsafe. NATO was not even consulted; Trump declared it obsolete. We cannot expect that developing nations sit on their hands and watch the usual suspects rape and pillage the world some more. China and North-Korea are excellent examples of nations that are going rise to the challenge of an aggressive, self-serving US.
THE FUTURE OF THE NETHERLANDS
I am happy that the Dutch didn’t fall (yet) into the trap of the Americans and didn’t give Wilders more votes. Well Done! In spite of that, the writing is on the wall that the pressure from the fascists have not ended with the election. The Dutch rightist party that won the most votes campaigned on the slogan: Do normal, or leave. That sounds to me that intolerance for everything “different” than the white Dutch identity, is already fact and acceptable. Harking back to a time in the past, when a homogenous, all-white population existed, will create more problems.
Instead, moving forward is needed, with true acceptance of the new Dutch, and the development of a new identity as a diverse nation of Dutch is essential. To reach that new identity, extensive education is warranted for both newcomers and Autochtone Dutch to convince the Dutch that all citizens are needed and valuable and to set down what those parameters within the Dutch laws are. That must be the message, not the threat of punishment as consequence of not standing up to “normal”, whatever that is.
Netherlands: Beware for the move to the right. Yes, the US was a friend and liberated us from Hitler, but those days are over. It wasn’t only Americans that rescued us; a number of other Allied joined the war: Canadians played an important part, the British, Polish, Russians. Now that the US is turning into a force for bad, not for good, consider the Dutch moral debt to the USA over and its life expired. Misogyny, racism and exploitation of the weak has become the norm for the USA government. Especially in a changing world under the threat of the EU falling apart, and a conservative jerk into isolationism (which allowed World War II to break out), it would be wise for the Dutch to stay on the good side: True democracy and equality for all its citizens.
Europe, you were my light, a shining example of what cooperation and rational negotiations could do to a diverse continent with a history of strive and wars, your wide-open borders a balm for the soul. Netherlands, you were my pride with your leadership in tolerance and acceptance.
As an observer, I would suggest to my fellow Dutch: Look at the facts, educate yourself, and then choose where your loyalty should be.
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