This is not a great week to be Dutch.
In fact, this week it is somewhat of an embarrassment to be associated with that cowardly, insincere and sanctimonious part of the Dutch political class that is making headlines around the world these days.
Much has been said about the situation around Ayaan Hirsi Ali already. The most succinct and sharp minded commentary comes to us via Peaktalk. Also on Peaktalk a convenient little list of high profile persons that started a realistic debate on the future of Dutch society and the influence of Islam on same:
Frits Bolkestein: Retired
Pim Fortuyn: Murdered
Theo van Gogh: Murdered
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Humiliated and expelled
Rita Verdonk: Disgraced
There's a host of others, of which I will name but a few:
Afshin Ellian, lawyer and Iranian immigrant: Shunned
Paul Cliteur, philosophy professor: Retired from public debate after receiving death threats
Paul Scheffer, journalist and publicist: Marginalized
Hans Janssen, Arabist and islamologue: Shunned *and* marginalized
Why Peter included Rita Verdonk in that list I'm not really sure. As far as I'm concerned she does not belong among the likes of AHA, van Gogh, Fortuyn and Bolkesteijn. After witnessing the emergency meeting of parliament last night I have become completely disenchanted with Verdonk. I've uttered my doubts about her before, but I was hoping my worries were unfounded. Yesterday evening those worries were confirmed in spectacular (if somewhat disheartening) fashion: Verdonk is not a conservative liberal, she's a "rightwing collectivist" (if there is such a thing). Worse: She openly admitted she sees her job as minister as strictly applying the rules, with no discretionary powers. That is not being a minister, dear Rita, that is being a civil servant, an apparatchick.
But it is not just Verdonk who failed. It's parliament and the cabinet in toto who have earned nothing but contempt. During the emergency session the cabinet was absent, safe Verdonk in her capacity as minister for Immigration and Donner (minister of Justice). The PM, Balkenende, was hiding under a rock somewhere, except for a brief moment to mumble into a microphone he thought that Verdonk was awfully fast with her retraction of Dutch citizenship for Hirsi Ali.
The different fractions in parliament, the whole range from left to right, acted outraged and out for blood. But as the Great Poet said: All sound and fury, signifying nothing. In the end all they could muster were a couple of very lame motions ordering the minister of Immigration to review the Hirsi Ali case. And thus Verdonk was let off (for the third(!) time) after parliament has a chance to show their righteous indignation.
Funny thing though: Nobody stood up for Hirsi Ali. All of them were after Verdonk, rather unconvincingly. But nary a word of encouragement, solace or sympathy for the woman the emergency session should have been about. If parliament gave of a signal last night, it was one of relief to be rid of Hirsi Ali. It is just as Melanie Philips wrote, even before the emergency session of parliament:
So [Ayaan Hirsi Ali] is being used as the classic scapegoat. Drive out Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and they will drive out (or so they think) the threat of the jihad. Thus the authentic voice of appeasement; thus courage is punished and resistance abandoned; thus the murdered Theo van Gogh is doubly betrayed. A shocked friend of Ms Hirsi Ali says that the mood in the Netherlands today reflects a thirst for a public hanging. But this public anger is being funnelled not at the clerical fascism that has caused Dutch public figures to be guarded day and night against the threat of murder, but at one of those very figures. Thus the victim of violence is turned into its cause, and her institutionalised lynching will purge the terror from the people.
It is a mindset as medieval as it is misguided. Shame on them.
Yep, shame on them.
Them? I hear you thinking. Yes, them. As of last Monday I cannot consider myself to be of the kin of those in The Hague and elsewhere that apply such soviet style machinations (btw, that link leads to a post on Zacht Ei, who's done some excellent blogging on the whole AHA saga) to get rid of dissidents. I cannot consider myself kin of those 75-80% who agreed with VVD old-timer Hans Wiegel that Hirsi Ali's forced exile is 'no great loss' for Dutch politics and the Netherlands at large.
In the mean time things are returning to 'normal' in the Netherlands. The furore of Ayaangate has been derailed into a anemic discussion on Verdonks chances as VVD fraction leader. Just as the van Gogh murder was derailed into a discussion about muslim sensitivities and the Fortuyn murder was derailed into a discussion on political mores. Anything, anything to side step the awkward questions: The Zembla episode of last Thursday (11th of May) was by broadcaster VARA, which has strong ties to both the PvdA (Labour) and the trade unions. Somebody must've exerted their influence to get that disgraceful piece of character assasination transmitted(1).Who were they? What was their aim? Why the sudden and rather blatant coyness of parliament during the emergency session? Why didn't anyone during the emergency session point out to Wouter Bos and Femke Halsema the brazen hypocrisy of their 'indignation' , while it was their buddies over at Zembla that were the perpetrators of the hatchet job on Hirsi Ali? And why oh why is nobody, and I mean nobody standing up for Hirsi Ali?
The Hague really starts to look as the Inner Party, with parliament as the politburo, acting like there are fundamental differences between the fractions. But if you squint your eyes a little, you'll see they're all the same Party. One that can't bear those that do not toe the line. One that'll do anything to get rid of those that are threatening their hegemony. The Church of the Left has become the ruling party, deciding who it will tolerate in its inner circle and who will be thrown out into the fire, where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And this isn't limited to the big three (PvdA, GroenLinks and SP)in parliament either. It has it's metastases well established in the CDA and the VVD as well. Verdonk herself has confirmed her loyal subservience to the Left with her fast-as-lightning denunciation of Hirsi Ali's citizenship(2).
One thing is clear. The parliamentary elections in the Netherlands next year are going to be as phoney as elections in Saddam Husseins Iraq(3). Sure, we get to vote on different people campaigning under different acronyms. But if you look beyond colourful make-up and diverse dresses of those acronyms, if you look beyond that stage set for our television viewing pleasure, you'll find the same grey mass of niggard, holier-then-thou, joyless members of the elite that will use everything in their power to prevent the play from turning on it's directors.
We are fast becoming a totalitarian state. Not by force, not by revolution, but because we want it so, we made it so. Because we couldn't be bothered to leave our comfortable little lives and do something to prevent it. We had an Hirsi Ali. We had someone who reminded us forcefully what it was we once stood for, what it is we are still saying we stand for. Even if it was a foreigner who had to remind us, we at least had one. But now we've puked her out as one does with leftovers left too long. And we have nothing. Nothing except our tacit admission we do not value freedom, we do not value democracy, we do not value independent thought, but we value ruthlessly enforced egalitarism in thought, in behavior and in everything. We *value* collectivism and we *value* overlords telling us what to think about what.
We are not the Netherlands anymore, not that proud country that withstood the Spanish, the French, the Germans and the English. We are not the country of William of Orange, Spinoza, Huygens and Erasmus anymore. We are lowlanders; sad, boring grey huddled citizens of Department Northwest of the EU. And slowly but inevitably the light is fading.
(1) Oh, and btw: For tomorrow another such public execution is planned, same day, same frequency. Zembla on Rita Verdonk. She may have survived this week, but will she survive Zembla as AHA so clearly did not?
(2) You think you have saved your skin by catering to the Powers that be, my dear, but the beast will eat you yet. There are some still sour over your speech at the van Gogh manifestation that evening on November 2nd, back then.
(3) Maybe even more so. At the very least elections under Saddam were so transparently fake everyone knew what it was they were taking part in, even as they filled out the ballots.