Wednesday, November 17, 2004

All right Football then ...

Andorra away: always tough

To bring some distraction from our daily turmoil let's focus on sports. Let's focus on the elegant sport of Football (soccer to some out there).

Our national pride, the Dutch national team, Oranje, will bring joy and fame to our people by going head to head in the stadium of Barcelona against the infamous national team of Andorra...

The post will probably delayed for a day because the postman is playing left midfield. The baker is closed for the day because he is reserve goalie. The match could turn into a national disaster if the central defender gets injured as he is the only bus driver of the nation.

Orange can only loose tonight. Anything less than 10 to 0 would be considered a defeat. Conceding a goal against and they should not be allowed back into the country. But then again most of our national squad live and play abroad.

Just one more reminder:

Andorra away: always tough

Going Dutch has a new meaning ...

.. and it ain't nice.

Since the brutal killing of Theo van Gogh a lot of disgusting things have happened in our dear little country. We have seen attacks on Islamic schools, mosques and churches. All as reaction on the extremist, fundamentalist background of the killing of the not-so-subtle film maker. Then we have seen a day long siege of a house with a couple of suspected would-be terrorists.

Going Dutch (already with a negative meaning) has now a new and even worse meaning to it. The simple minded violent and racist/discriminatory reactions on the killing and these reactions are now the Dutch Way. That in a country that has been so tolerant throughout the ages. At least, that's what we try to convince ourselves of by repeating it over and over again. Death threats to politicians with outspoken opinions are conceived as something normal. Something that goes along with the job. Something they had coming. If they wouldn't have had such an outspoken opinion then they would not have been threatened!. It's their own bloody fault!

Well, this is the atmosphere that still exists. After all these years. We have been so tolerant (lax) that we have allowed sub cultures to grow and grow that defy all that we think is part of our heritage: freedom of speech, equal rights for women, homosexuals, Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-believers, our tolerance. We (the political correct, civilized society) have even disallowed people critizing these sub-cultures. We have allowed these group to live among us, but outside our rules and moral values.

This is what has come to. There is in our society a group that is so easily insulted because they have a low pain level for taking criticism. They see every remark as an attack on all Muslims and all mosques and Islamic organizations.

I know I am risking my life here when I say that the soft approach of the past decades have led to this and that we should now push harder for this group to become part of our society. To be able to accept criticism and also to conduct some internal self control. To accept and practice our constitution. That means equal rights for all: women, homosexuals, Jews, non-Islamics. That means learning our language. That also means that if they feel insulted that they take the legal route and not the violent route.

Let's try to be Dutch again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The times they are a-changing ..

Bob Dylan was right, in a way. The times are definitely changing. Here, in the lovely, tiny country of Holland things have again changed dramatically. Last week a young guy has killed a Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, who had a very outspoken opinion and did not have the word 'subtle' in his dictionary. Yesterday he was cremated. Luckily he had his funeral all planned out in detail. This prevented hysterical scenes.

In the course of the last week many things have happened. The alleged killer is of Dutch-Moroccan background and the motive is extremist islamitic inspired. This has triggered a lot of reactions. Theo van Gogh has recently made picture about the treatment of women under the Islam. A quite explicit movie. This (and several not so subtle statements about the Islam) has angered a lot of people and death threats appeared on several web sites. His death now is seen by many as a direct attack on the Freedom of Speech. In a so called tolerant society this is something that caused a lot of outrage. Politicians and many others say that this needs to be stopped and that one should strike hard against extremism.

I agree with striking against extremism, but it sounds a bit too familiar. You're either with us or with the terrorists. Yes, we should act and we must act quick and with clear decisiveness. But we should also try to root out the cause of the problem. These extremist acts can be linked directly to the September 11 events and to recent events in Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel / Palestine. It is quite simple: The harder we strike the harder they strike back.

It is a time for thinking and acting, but please do it in the right order.

What really annoys me right now is the events after the killing of Theo van Gogh. Idiots have painted racist slogans on mosques and set fire buildings with islamic schools and other organizations and even a bomb has been detonated. In return a fire was started in a Catholic church. This could go from bad to worse. I think it is amtter of time before something really, really ugly happens. There are more death threats to politicians and other public figures. In return some nice white racists could jumped the wagon and exploit the chaos.

Again: It is a time for thinking and acting, but please do it in the right order.