Racist populism has now taken on the guise of respectability in Holland
Scene from Onibaba (watch it in its entirety here)
The foreign press is quite jubilant about the Dutch election result, stating that ‘Wilders’ far-right party has been beaten’ (CNN), ‘Dutch election defeats far right’ (The Guardian), ‘Geert Wilders Got Crushed’ (Buzzfeed), ‘Trump May Have Pushed Dutch Voters Away From Populism’ (NY Times), and so on.
Unfortunately all these media could not be further from the truth. As I wrote (in Dutch) on the night of the elections: the racists have won. Not only did the PVV, Geert Wilders’ islamophobic anti-social anti-immigrant party, win five additional seats in parliament, bringing his total on a solid twenty seats, making it the second largest political party, this past decade Wilders has poisoned the whole political spectrum with his racist rhetoric, contaminating even the most leftist parties GroenLinks and the Socialist Party.
The party which got the most votes, the conservative VVD, led by prime-minister Mark Rutte, is just as populist, or let’s just use the words really meant here: just as fascistoid and racist as the PVV.
Nullify human rights
You probably think I am exaggerating, but let me offer you some evidence. About a month ago the Dutch Order of Attorneys presented the results of a research of the election programmes of all the political parties in parliament. One of the most shocking discoveries was that the VVD wants to nullify the effect of universal human rights in international treaties, finding it a hindrance in its struggle to close the borders for immigrants and to counter the spread of islamism and terrorism.
Furthermore, the VVD has these past years joined in on the aggressive anti-immigrant rhetoric, spreading such nonsense as that Muslims form a threat to old Christian traditions as Christmas and Easter. Dutch people of Turkish descent refusing to talk to the Dutch press (continuously being portrayed as violent jihadis or Erdogan supporters by that press) were told by Rutte to ‘bugger off’ if they didn’t like Dutch values. In an open letter Rutte blamed immigrants specifically for virtually everything that was wrong with Holland (even littering) writing that they ‘mess up everything, while having come to our country to enjoy our freedoms’.
Together with coalition partner PvdA, which used to be a socialist party but now has adopted Tony Blair’s ‘Third Way’, a blend of conservative rightism with what is supposed to be left-wing policies, the VVD conducted a policy aimed at curtailing the rights of immigrants and Muslims, prohibiting certain religious ways of dressing and even forcing them to sign a contract, under penalty of a considerable fine, in which they promise to agree with certain Dutch values like equal rights for LGBT people and women. Implying, of course, that only non-Western immigrants are a threat to those values.
Funny thing is that this contract, approved by a vast majority in parliament, is the brain child of the leader of the PvdA, Lodewijk Asscher, who as a minister for the Cabinet Office made specific efforts to stigmatise, offend and discriminate against immigrants, Muslims and Dutch Turks especially, by inciting hatred against these groups every chance he got.
When international organisations like Amnesty International and even the UN warned the Netherlands against certain racist tendencies like racial profiling by the Dutch police and even a debate about the ‘Moroccan Problem’ in parliament, Asscher would stone cold deny that the Netherlands was in the least bit racist. This is an inclination almost every Dutchman has, vehemently denying immigrants, Muslims and people of colour have anything to complain about. He will even paint his face black and put on a black slave’s costume from the 17th century to prove how devoid of racism he is.
Dutch Justin Trudeau
The left-wing party GroenLinks gained a lot of seats (fifteen), mostly due to its charismatic and handsome young leader Jesse Klaver, often referred to as the Dutch Justin Trudeau. Proof that there is still considerable support for an anti-racist, immigrant-friendly stance, right?
Wrong. GroenLinks too has recently contributed to the current discourse separating people supporting Western values and therefore belonging to our country from people who don’t support those values and therefore don’t belong. That people with immigrant background don’t necessarily have to entertain certain backward (or Trumpian, if you will) ideas about LGBT’s and women to be considered unworthy by GroenLinks proves the case of Ilhan Tekir, a local politician for GroenLinks of Turkish descent who got kicked out of the party and pilloried (in no uncertain terms: he was told to ‘fuck off’) for having expressed a nuanced view of the president of Turkey, Recep Erdogan (whom he considered to be the lesser of different evils).
This election campaign two candidates on behalf of GroenLinks were outspoken sympathisers of the extreme right, one having worked for The Post Online, a kind of Dutch Breitbart, which is a racist, xenofobic website specialising in intimidating and vilifying anyone invoking the anger of TPO’s chief editor Bert Brussen, the other candidate openly supporting a racist condemned for inciting violence against immigrants, calling him a ‘martyr of free speech’. He now has a seat in parliament.
Also, Jesse Klaver recently said in an interview that people have a point when they say our government takes better care of refugees than of our ‘own people’ (refugees were freezing to death in Greece this past winter, due to the ‘Turkey-deal’ with the much despised Recep Erdogan) and the Netherlands has admitted very, very few of them. Read this CNN article about how well they are taken care of here).
And so no party has been free of populist tendencies, joining in on the anti-immigrant rhetoric or the xenofobic hysteria surrounding the referendum, last spring, about the Ukraine Treaty, like for instance the Party for the Animals (five seats) and the Socialist Party (fourteen seats). Virtually every party, except for the liberal D66 and especially the Christian parties, considers Islam to be a threat.
There were two parties joining the past election with a clear stance against discrimination: DENK, founded by two men of Turkish descent and an Afro-Dutch woman, and Artikel 1 (the name being a reference to the constitutional guarantee of equality for all in the Netherlands), founded only a few months ago by an Afro-Dutch woman. DENK was vilified in the media, by every Dutch press outlet, continuously, from the start. Everyday the two Dutch-Turkish founders were accused of being spies for Erdogan, islamists, islamo-fascists and supporters of the Turkish extreme right by virtually every journalist and columnist in the country, without even a shred of proof. They won three seats.
Angry black woman
Artikel 1, focussing on discrimination not only against immigrants but also on equal rights for LGBT’s and women, did not win even one seat. Its leader, former TV presenter Sylvana Simons, met with an avalanche of racist and sexist hate by white men of the Right and Left. Although she turned out to be quite the intelligent and eloquent debater, never ever losing her cool, even when the vilest things were said to her face, she kept being portrayed as an angry black woman who did not have the intellectual capacities to represent the people in parliament.
The party that did win two seats is the Forum for Democracy, led by Thierry Baudet, a conceited fop advocating rape and spouting old fashioned racist theories like it’s nothing, always demonstrating a complete lack of knowledge about even the the most basic principles of law, democracy or science (he fancies himself quite the rationalist, relying on scientific evidence), but nevertheless hailed during the election campaign as some boy wonder, enjoying postive media attention like no other new-comer in politics. He even seems to have replaced Geert Wilders as the media’s darling.
Rebellious super villain
So no seats for anti-discrimination party Artikel 1, two seats for the fascistoid racists of Forum for Democracy, the fascist anti-immigrant party PVV wins five seats and the biggest party, conservative anti-immigration party VVD, wants to do away with basic human rights altogether.
I’d say populism wasn’t dealt a blow at all in the Netherlands. On the contrary, our country is front runner in the normalisation of fascistoid racism. It is no longer hiding under the rogue mask of rebellious super villain Geert Wilders, but has taken on the guise of respectable moderationism.
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op 18 03 2017 at 16:07 schreef Murat:
Ik deel ‘m met mijn vrienden in het buitenland!
op 18 03 2017 at 18:12 schreef Jeroen S. van den heuvel:
Lessons learned: vote D66. ;-)
op 18 03 2017 at 20:16 schreef Chakir:
Spoken like a true podigy!
op 18 03 2017 at 21:30 schreef G.J. Brethouwer v/h Cactus:
De VVD heeft veel zetels verloren, terwijl de PVV 5 zetels heeft gewonnen.
Dus, wat nou het racistische populisme heeft verloren.
op 18 03 2017 at 21:36 schreef Niek Holtzappel van Nes:
For the economic program I should have voted for VVD. But because of the underbelly attitude of the VVD I voted D66
op 19 03 2017 at 01:07 schreef Sasha Berkman:
Niek, so you favour the VVD economical program above the rest?
op 19 03 2017 at 16:05 schreef Achmad Al Ghazzawi:
The Nethelands are scaring me as well. I have been looking for a less racist country to move for some time now. Without much succes regretfully. Any suggestions anyone?
op 19 03 2017 at 23:36 schreef Sasha Berkman:
Achmad Al Ghazzawi: i dont think there is a country that needs you :)
op 20 03 2017 at 07:09 schreef Murat:
How so? Maybe Achmad has a lot to offer.
op 20 03 2017 at 10:20 schreef MNb:
@Achmad: my son is considering Uruguay.
op 20 03 2017 at 11:01 schreef Yvon Arendsen:
You forgot to mention our precious CDA, the christian democratic party, that also gained seats again and will most likely be part of our new government. After the recent spat with Turkey, their leader Buma, fell over to pronounce that all double passport holders would have to denounce their other nationality to prove loyalty to the Netherlands. Demonising everybody from a mixed background.
op 20 03 2017 at 13:20 schreef carmo da rosa:
Achmad Al Ghazzawi, I have the same problem, constantly looking and asking the illuminates for a less racist country to move, but I never get an answer!!!
op 20 03 2017 at 14:34 schreef marco meijer:
@ Achmad, I would consider Turkey. Lots of interesting and promising developments there.
op 20 03 2017 at 16:23 schreef babs:
I shared this with some friends in Spain and there are some issues with this:
1. Even after reading this, they still do not really, truly believe that in the Netherlands de Social Democrats proudly claim in a debate with Wilders they actually beat the shit out of the Turks, while Wilders is only tweeting about it.
2. Still better to be discriminated in the Netherlands than gaining 600€ per month in Spain, if you find any job at all.
3. All is fine as long as these Dutch pirates do not break up the EU.
op 20 03 2017 at 19:39 schreef Sasha Berkman:
Murat: i could be wrong but I think he’s trolling.
op 21 03 2017 at 06:51 schreef Kshatriya:
Just a random list of the “13 Least Racist Countries In The World” (The Netherlands isn’t in it, ofcourse).
op 21 03 2017 at 07:52 schreef Murat:
Het feit dat België in die lijst staat betekent dat het abominabel slecht gesteld is met de wereld als het gaat om racisme.
op 21 03 2017 at 09:03 schreef Dennis:
So, you must be the first to take listicles seriously.
op 21 03 2017 at 09:17 schreef Kshatriya:
Het is zonder meer een merkwaardig lijstje, Murat. De meest vreemde eend in de bijt vind ik persoonlijk misschien nog Australië.
Racisme blijkt maar lastig uit te roeien, als dat überhaupt al mogelijk is.
op 21 03 2017 at 09:47 schreef Murat:
Of de nummer 1: De Verenigde Staten. Wat een grap.
op 21 03 2017 at 22:43 schreef Nagi:
Wat Murat zegt, lachwekkend dat lijstje. Alle landen waar blanken wonen horen sowieso niet op dat lijstje.