In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

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Generous_J
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In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby Generous_J » Mon Jun 06, 5:57 pm

In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

A crisis of confidence in liberalism has left support for immigration and the European project at a very low ebb in this once progressive and optimistic nation

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From the 1970s the Netherlands was a laboratory for social and cultural change, boldly pioneering the legalisation of prostitution, soft drugs, euthanasia and gay marriage.’

Once a beacon of progressive politics, the Netherlands today is a traumatised, angry and deeply confused nation. Support for immigration and the European project are at all-time lows. Synagogues and Jewish schools need police protection from homegrown jihadists, and freedom of expression is under serious pressure. Leading pundits and comedians incite hatred against Muslims in much the same way that antisemites rage against “the Jews”.

It seems a long time since “Dutch” was synonymous with tolerance. A founding member of the European Union, the Netherlands developed from the 1970s onwards into a laboratory for social and cultural change, boldly pioneering the legalisation of prostitution, soft drugs, euthanasia and gay marriage.

Those were the days when Dutch politicians and opinion-makers would refer to the Netherlands, without any apparent irony, as a “gidsland”, or “guide country”: a small nation leading by example. Its proudest moment probably came in June 1988 when an ethnically mixed team of Dutch footballers won the European Championships, beating the all-white teams of arch-rival Germany and then Russia. It felt like the ultimate vindication of multiculturalism.

Fast-forward 28 years, and heading the polls today is Geert Wilders’ PVV or Freedom party. Elected “politician of the year 2015”, Wilders is the sole member of the party he founded, ruling over it as undemocratically as the Arab dictators he so despises. He wants the Netherlands to drop the euro and leave the EU. Like Donald Trump he demands an end to all immigration from Islamic countries. A typical Wilders tweet: “As long as we have ‘leaders’ such as [Dutch prime minister] Rutte, Merkel, Obama and Cameron denying Islam and terror are one and the same, there will be more terrorist attacks.”

Of course there was racism and intolerance in the Netherlands during the 70s, 80s and 90s, too, and the country of old has not entirely disappeared. A slim majority continues to vote for pro-EU parties that abhor discrimination against Muslims. The popular mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, is openly and proudly Muslim. The speaker of parliament, Khadija Arib, is of Moroccan descent; and in 2007 Dutch readers voted the book The House of the Mosque by Iranian-born Kader Abdolah to be the second “best Dutch book ever”.

Yet the influence of the PVV is widely felt, particularly because the steadily growing far-left Socialist party shares many of its views on the EU. And with every new terrorist attack, wave of refugees or expensive euro bailout, the forces of regression grow stronger, both on the far right and the far left.

Many of the reasons for the “Dutch turn” mirror those elsewhere in Europe. As the EU struggles to get on top of jihadist terrorism and the refugee crisis, some voters look for fresh faces promising simple solutions: torture, deportation, closed borders. And as the eurozone limps from panic to panic, people wonder whether the currency can and should be salvaged in the first place. Is “more Europe” really the answer to every crisis?

These questions, formerly taboo, are now being debated across the continent, reflecting a deep loss of faith in the competence and trustworthiness of traditional elites. Yet no country seems quite as disoriented as the Netherlands. One important reason must be the unprecedented series of catastrophes to have hit the country over the past 15 years. Three high-profile political murders. The country’s first mass shooting. An attempt on Queen Beatrix’s life in which eight people died. And finally the downing over Ukraine of an airliner, nearly two years ago, killing all 298 on board. Of those, 193 were Dutch, meaning that, relative to population-size, the country suffered a larger loss of life than the US did on 9/11.

These are major traumas that deeply shook the country’s complacent consensus that bad things did not happen around here. And when a frightened population looked to its elites for leadership, those elites looked painfully incompetent – a second reason for the Dutch turn. There were the lost wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – which the Netherlands was almost alone from mainland Europe in joining, where 25 died. There was the disaster of the financial crash that took the entire policymaking elite by surprise. And then there is the Greek euro-crisis.

Each of these debacles made the traditional elites look helpless and inept – in Wilders’ favourite slur, “naive”. When those same elites then implore their voters to trust them on the EU, the euro and immigration, many voters now think twice.

There are still those in the Netherlands who believe that the country needs to “sit out” the PVV. They point out that there have not been even low-level defections from the elites to the PVV and that, unlike Marine Le Pen in France, Wilders is not building a political machine. Quite the contrary. As soon as anybody in his party assumes any kind of profile they are quickly sidelined. In this respect Wilders resembles Nigel Farage – though with none of the latter’s cheerfulness.

Yet it would be a grave mistake to think that once Wilders leaves the scene, so will the questions that, beneath all the offensive and incendiary rhetoric, he has put centre stage. What if the European project is an edifice with fatally flawed foundations? How does an open society based on equality survive, when every year it takes in tens if not hundreds of thousands of immigrants from countries with no tradition of openness, equality or democratic debate? Especially when those immigrants consistently have more children than the native Dutch?

There was a time when mainstream Dutch politicians and opinion-makers would answer breezily that the EU was a work in progress and that successful integration would simply take a generation: why would the children of immigrants remain socially and culturally conservative if they could also be Dutch?

That self-confidence is gone and what will take its place is anyone’s guess. What seems certain is that the heady days of progressive optimism are not coming back.

As for the football, the Netherlands did not even qualify for this year’s European Championship.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre ... m-european

slither
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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby slither » Mon Jul 04, 4:17 am

Fuck Geert Wilders.
"Freedom of Speech is the Only Freedom."

Right.

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby modern roots » Mon Jul 04, 5:19 am

slither wrote:Fuck Geert Wilders.
"Freedom of Speech is the Only Freedom."

Right.


I suppose if he were a nigger loving, slant eyed Arab from Madagascar you'd agree with him.

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby modern roots » Mon Jul 04, 6:33 am

modern roots wrote:
slither wrote:Fuck Geert Wilders.
"Freedom of Speech is the Only Freedom."

Right.


I suppose if he were a nigger loving, slant eyed Arab from Madagascar you'd agree with him.


you should be ashamed you racist, bigoted, xenophobic twat.
oh wait, I'm responding to my own post.
lmao!!!?

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby Dazzler » Mon Jul 04, 6:57 am

You're a complete fucknut, mate. How old are you? You're a child, saying naughty words and running away.

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby winnie » Mon Jul 04, 9:23 am

Desperately lonely, isolated and craving attention is poor ol' rootsie

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby Dogbreath » Mon Jul 04, 2:00 pm

It's really a sad day for me seeing that Dutch tolerance, which I so admired upon discovering it during my frst 1996 visit, fading from the Dutch culture.

Dogbreath

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby modern roots » Mon Jul 04, 2:28 pm

winnie wrote:Desperately lonely, isolated and craving attention is poor ol' rootsie


I suppose your shit smells so good you're going to bag it and sell it to the world as room freshener.

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby modern roots » Mon Jul 04, 2:31 pm

Dazzler wrote:You're a complete fucknut, mate. How old are you? You're a child, saying naughty words and running away.


yes, we're all someone's child. tell me, the first ever man and woman, did they have belly buttons? go contemplate your navel, dizzy.

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby Bohannon » Mon Jul 04, 4:57 pm

Lordy you are a tosser. Please STFU!

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby slither » Mon Jul 04, 6:50 pm

Dogbreath wrote:It's really a sad day for me seeing that Dutch tolerance, which I so admired upon discovering it during my frst 1996 visit, fading from the Dutch culture.

Dogbreath



The world has definitely turned, DB.

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby worldcitizen1723 » Mon Jul 04, 10:40 pm

slither wrote:
Dogbreath wrote:It's really a sad day for me seeing that Dutch tolerance, which I so admired upon discovering it during my frst 1996 visit, fading from the Dutch culture.

Dogbreath



The world has definitely turned, DB.


yeah and not the way we expected....

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby Generous_J » Mon Jul 11, 2:51 am

Dogbreath wrote:It's really a sad day for me seeing that Dutch tolerance, which I so admired upon discovering it during my frst 1996 visit, fading from the Dutch culture.

Dogbreath


Indeed.

Sadly, it seems right wing sentiment is on the rise globally. I think the global financial crisis is partly at fault. People arent affluent anymore. Not optimistic about the future and they are looking for someone or something to blame.

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby Rudy » Mon Jul 11, 2:20 pm

Well, we`re just going to have to make Holland Great Again too.

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Re: In a traumatised Netherlands, faith in the EU is plummeting

Postby smokedpeppers » Mon Jul 11, 2:50 pm

to make any country grate again, ban all pre shredded cheeses .


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