What happened to the Dutch awakening?
articles have we read over the last few years telling us that, as a result of the murders of Pym Fortuyn and Theo van Vogh and the death threats against Geert Wilders and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the attitude of the Dutch toward their Muslim immigrant population had changed from acceptance and tolerance to alarm and wary-eyed skepticism—a change registered not only in public opinion but in official policy? Yet now the Dutch integration minister, Ella Vogelaar, tells a newspaper that Muslim immigrants must feel appreciated and that the Dutch have to help “Islam take root in the Netherlands.” Has the spark of resistance been extinguished, and Netherlands placed back on the unobstructed path to Islamization?
There’s much else in Paul Belien’s article worth reading.
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“Snouck Hungronje” writes from the Netherlands:
You wrote: “How many articles have we read over the last few years telling us that, as a result of the murders of Pym Fortuyn and Theo van Vogh and the death threats against Geert Wilders and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the attitude of the Dutch toward their Muslim immigrant population had changed from acceptance and tolerance to alarm and wary-eyed skepticism—a change registered not only in public opinion but in official policy? ”
Good question. Skepticism of Muslim immigrants in official policy used to exist in a very limited way between 2002 and 2006. But we are under a new coalition now. The government coalition that ran our government between 2002 and 2006 lost its majority. Amongst other things due to the appearance of a genuine Conservative party, Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV). The new coalition of Christian Democrats, Christian Union with Labour has its centre of gravity more to the left than before. Minister Ella Vogelaar, the new intergration minister is a former Communist.
Our political system may start to look like Israel’s: with a permanently weakened centre and a strong right wing and a strong left wing. If the right wing is kept out of government coalitions, this will mean that the left is actually strengthened from the perspective of power politics.
What has happened however is that Minister Vogelaar has come under strong criticism for her pronouncement, in the press, parliament and from a right-wing minority of the people which used to be inarticulate before 2002.
Political correctness has weakened in The Netherlands. Not just amongst the population, but also in a very minute way in Government. An example is the Ministry of Justice’s annual report on crime (see English language summary at p. 53 of the report) broken down by ethnicity, which this week showed again the overrepressentation of non-Western immigrants (Muslim and Caribbian Blacks) in violent and other crime.
It is very slow going. The new right wing opinion mill is mostly an imitation of U.S. neo-conservatism. Lots of calls for the strengthening of government power against Islam in defense of what is in fact Liberalism, but what is called Dutch or Western culture. I call this “Leftist solutions, for Leftist trouble.” Liberalism is still very strong not just in government, but also in the people. One does get exasperated every now and then.
Olivier writes from the Netherlands:
Things seem to have slowed down in the Netherlands, but I am certain that the general attitude towards Islam has indeed become even more negative. I believe there are a few things that slow the improvement of the Dutch situation.
The first is that the Dutch people are still very much liberal. Many moan and complain about the ever increasing presence of Islam, yet uphold their liberal principles in a fatalistic manner: “I don’t like it, but there is nothing we can do about it.” While they loathe Islamic reality, many still believe in the possibility of a moderate, “European” Islam. These people are to be found in the entire political spectrum.
The second is that Geert Wilders, who represents the hard right in the present situation, is indeed a bit of a clown, with his bleached hair and blunt rhetoric. His main thrust is on Islam and immigration, which makes him look one-dimensional. These things do not add to the respectability of the right. Although he is a big improvement compared to the dodgy fringe groups of earlier days, he has liberal tendencies as well (i.e. he defends the rights of homosexuals in the face of Islam), but less so than the flamboyant Pim Fortuyn.
The third is that most Muslims vote for the large and very much established leftist Labour Party (of which the aforementioned minister Ella Vogelaar is a member). Whatever their intellect or common sense tells them about the Islamic reality, that party tries to keep its voters. However, they are gradually losing their seats to the Socialist Party, which is EU-sceptic and a bit more nationalist.
But overall, I would think that we Dutch have a problematic sense of self. Most consider our tradition one of great tolerance, and we have less of an ethnic identity than, say, the Danes. Our past tolerance is said to have bloomed in the Golden Age of the seventeenth century, yet this was mostly in the spirit of commerce and opportunity. It was the Dutch sense of business which made them throw their Bibles overboard to get the Japanese to trade with them. And they did, as the only Western power, for centuries.
At present, even as the attitude towards Islam is very negative, past and present multicultural reality, or what is perceived so, makes it hard for the average Dutchman to embrace a more traditional view on things. Add to that the temptations and riches of modernity, the firm grasp of progressive ideology, and we still have a long way to go.
Nevertheless, I believe there is still strength and hope here, and that things will improve. But I fear more tragedy must occur before the Dutch find themselves and act.
I asked Olivier to explain about the Bibles being thrown overboard, and he replies:
There is much to tell about the Dutch and their unique dealings with the Japanese in those days of commerce. They traded everything, including most if not all Western knowledge on all things imaginable. Even after the Dutch lost their key part, “Western Learning” was still referred to as “Dutch Learning” (Rangaku).
Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 19, 2007 09:07 PM | Send
I have translated a telling bit from the authoritative Dutch history website Anno:
Around 1600, The Netherlands were an important trading country and sailed with large ships throughout Asia. The Dutch had a trading post in many countries and they wanted one in Japan as well. But at that time Japan was almost completely shut from the outer world. The shogun, the Japanese ruler, even threw the Portugese traders out of the country, as they tried to convert Japanese to Christianity. To prove they had only come to trade the Dutch had to abjure the Bible, as they did.The reason I mentioned this particular situation in history is that one of my close friends, who is a history major, once expanded to me the story of the trading mentality of the Dutch, and how few things stood in the way of commercial aims, as far as the Dutch were concerned. There is definitely a dark side to that part of Dutch history, but of course it was also a time of glory. I just wanted to show that our supposed and famed historical tolerance was a financial and not an ideological matter.
As I said, there is a lot to tell, so I suppose the (pretty concise) Wikipedia articles can draw you a better further picture.
On the island Dejima.
On Dutch Studies in Japan.
On Christianity in Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries.