Dutch Tolerance, the myth (1960’s -2002)

There is a lot of talk during the last.. well… decades if not centuries, about the so called “Dutch tolerance” and yes, if you check our past the Dutch have been a very tolerant people. First of course there s the multicultural aspect.. If you check cities like Amsterdam or Utrecht you will see that we have many nationalities roaming across the city streets. You can see a lot of people from the former colonies like Suriname and Bonaire whom have been part of our Dutch culture for many centuries. Most of these Dutchman you will find in Amsterdam and Rotterdam as where the Hague is more the city where you will find the people that originate from areas like Indonesia. Since the mid 60 there has been a huge growth in Dutchman that originate from the middle Eastern areas like Morocco and Turkey and with the things happening in central and north Africa in recent decades the amount of people originating from the African continent has been growing as well.

Of course where cultures meet lot of things happen, always has been doing that always will be doing that. These “things” can be positive and negative but they almost always come from either lack of knowledge about a certain culture or (more positive) curiosity about these different cultures.

Of course all these “new Dutch” had their reasons for coming to the Netherlands. When it comes to people from the former colonies many things can be the reason ranging from economic to family related issues, although clearly not “original Dutch” I don’t think there are many Dutch that are counting them as “allochtoon”

An “Allowhat?” you might ask yourself now. In the Netherlands there is a distinction between the people that are “original” Dutch and those that are “Import”. If you are Born and bred Dutch with Dutch parents and grandparents you are considered “Autochtoon”. Anybody else is considered “Allochtoon”. I Highly doubt  if there is a translation for these words in English (or any other language for that matter). It has been “invented” as political correct alternative for the many words depicting “others” that might be offending to the subject in question such as “Negers” (litteral “Negros” but more regarded in the same way by many as the dreaded “N” word” in English)

So..back to the reasons of moving to the Netherlands. As said, the former people from our former colonies could have many reason like work or family related. Then there is a large group of people that originate from either Morocco or Turkey. In the post WWII era there was enough work in Holland, in fact there was so much work that the Dutch where feeling to “high and mighty” to do the dirty work themselves. If you where Dutch in those days you would opt for a job as manager or salesman, working in a store or in an office building. Jobs like Garbage collector, factory line worker, cleaner and maid where “sourced out”. Many small temp job agencies came to live that had a representative in these countries and they where recruiting the Moroccan and Turkeys people for these “Dirty jobs” Many came to Holland invited by us to do the jobs we didn’t want to do ourselves. Although many came here as “temp workers” or as we called them “Gast Arbeiders” (Guest workers) most of them ended up staying either marrying someone they met over here but in many cases bringing wife and kids over as well. No real efforts where made during those days to have these people integrating into our society since “they would not stay anyways”

Here is where the main problem started, although we did invite these people most of us never really tried to actually “get to know them”. If you where lucky, people greeted each other when they met but more interaction then that was not really there. However as it goes with people, most of us get kids eventually and these kids grew up in a split world. In one world they where at home wit their family, the language was Arabic (Moroccan, Turkeys, Kurdisch etc etc) and there was (and still is btw) a big chance that at least one if not both parents where unable to speak proper Dutch. Since these kids grew up never hearing Dutch they entered the school systems with a severe disadvantage since all classes in Dutch schools (some university classes excluded) are. in Dutch. Imagine being 6 and going to the first grade for the first time and being greeted by a lady that is talking to you like your deaf (why are people shouting when they talk to deaf people, they can’t hear you). often in typical Dutch “high speed talking” Kids at the playground laughing at you or with you? or are they even laughing? could be crying, or shouting or, or, or). So these kids start with a disadvantage that often only gets bigger with time passing since teachers simply don’t have the time p go one on one with a student.

And so this first “Dutch born” generation grew up in relative anonymity. Although these kids did learn the language, the cultural gap between home and school still made them relatively lost between two worlds and many if not most of these kids left school after primary school. However by then the jobs we Dutch didn’t want to do when there parents came over we now needed ourselves and so the unemployment within this generation grew bigger and bigger.

It was the 2nd and 3rd generation after WWII (basically my generation) and the things that happened in WWII was something we only knew from History class and the things our own parents still knew. Since our own parents where typically around 5 or 6 in”45 the seriousness of what had happened did not sink in for a lot of people. Yes, we knew there had been war, people had been killed and we did understand that such a war should never happen again however the reasons and motives… we just didn’t mirror it onto how we treated our Moroccan class mates unwillingly creating a generation of kids that grew up with bullying and in some cases even flat out hatred towards them. Then the extreme right wing started to show it’s ugly face.

Old pamflet of the CD saying: You can choose before it is too late

First there was Hans Janmaat , This man was from the WWII generation (born in ‘37) and should have know better but he was the first really racist, right wing politician in our country. Janmaat wanted to represent the indigenous Dutch workers and middle class. His views were based mostly on economic and materialistic arguments rather than an underlying ideology.Disappointing economic growth, unemployment and government cutbacks could not be addressed while large numbers of immigrants were flowing into the country Janmaat was against a multicultural society: he argued that immigrants should either assimilate into Dutch culture, or return to their country of birth. His best known slogans were “Holland is not a country of immigration,” “full=full” and “we will abolish the multicultural society, as soon as we get the chance and power”; he was convicted for the last two statements. According to Jan van de Beek, Hans Janmaat often used economic arguments in his tirades against immigrants.

He was often accused of committing acts of hate speech, and received fines and a conditional prison sentence for incitement to hatred and discrimination against foreigners.

He often made controversial remarks about immigrants and other politicians. He argued that Ernst Hirsch Ballin should not be allowed to hold a high office because of his Jewish heritage  and said he was not saddened by the sudden death of political opponent Ien Dales.

Other parties erected a cordon sanitaire around Janmaat, ignoring him while he spoke in parliament. A taboo on discussing negative aspects of immigration existed in the Dutch political climate in the 1980s.

Meindert Fennema, Emeritus Professor of Political Theory of Ethnic Relations at the University of Amsterdam, argued in 2006 that Janmaat was convicted for statements that are now commonplace  due to changes in the political climate (caused in part by the September 11 attacks, and the assassinations of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh).

More in the following blog

This entry was posted in history, Human rights, peace, racism, the Netherlands, Uncategorized by Mavadelo. Bookmark the permalink.

About Mavadelo

Dutch, Pothead, Married since 1999, once homeless officially homed since uh...I guess somewhere around 2006. Music lover (anything but techno) Animal friend (in general, dogs and cats more specific, wolves rule though), Happy (most of the time) Pacifist, optimist but also sarcastic, cynical and philosopher (big word, if I find a better one....) oh... Gamer, PC freak, Software junky, bottom level hacker (lol i can "hack" some of my games but t.b.h others did the work, I just apply their knowledge) all around "can you fix my pc Martin" guy did I mentioned married?

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