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Dutch tolerance and Zwarte Piet a personal view

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This is the first and last post that the Shallow Man will write about Zwarte Piet this year. Like many of you I’m sick of the whole thing. Today the Raad van State will make a decision with regards to the appearance of Zwarte Piet and the recent court ruling in Amsterdam that Zwarte Piet is racially offensive. Amsterdam city council, being reasonable people, plan to make some minor changes to the appearance of Zwarte Piet, so that he actually does look like a white man that has been down a chimney. Most sensible people would agree that this is a reasonable compromise, however, there’s a hard core of what I’ll call neo Zwarte Piet supporters who insist that there should be no changes to his appearance at all. I’ve decided to use and explain the logic of the neo-Zwarte Piet supporters

The logic of neo Zwarte Piet supporters

A well dressed black gentleman is walking along a street in Amsterdam. There are several Dutch women standing outside a bar smoking. One of them says to the black man,

“You’re a well dressed neger”.

The rather shocked gentlemen replies

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“what did you just say?”

“I just said that you’re a well dressed neger”

Her friends whisper something to her

“Oh are you shocked that I’m calling you a Neger? Don’t be offended, I’m Dutch and we Dutch don’t use the N word in the offensive way that it’s used in the US or the UK. The intention is not to cause any offence, so actually, I’m offended that you would take offence at something I said when it’s not meant in that way. I’m Dutch and I have the right to tell you, a black person, what you should find racially offensive, that’s just the way it is.

You can’t come to the Netherlands, the most tolerant country IN THE WORLD and tell us which words we’re allowed to use. You’re attempting to import the American racial experience to the Netherlands and cause problems that we don’t have in this country.  In fact, ninety nine percent of Dutch people think the same way, and two million of us signed a petition on Facebook that gives us the right to continue using the N word.

We’ve been calling black people the N word for over a hundred years. It’s a traditie! It’s our right to continue doing so, no matter who it offends. It’s anti-white discrimination, to tell us, the majority, to adapt our language to not offend a minority.  In fact if you don’t like it, you should go back to your own country, and if you’re a “nieuwe Nederlander” well you should go back to your country of origin if you don’t like our traditions”.

 

The downside of understanding Dutch

I wish that I couldn’t read Dutch. If that was the case, I wouldn’t have been exposed to, or understand the many comments posted on the forums of AT5.nl, Het Parool and the Volkskrant on the Zwarte Piet debate. There appears to be a huge undercurrent of intolerance and downright racial hatred that is brought to the fore whenever the subject of making changes to the appearance of Zwarte Piet is brought up. I’m aware that many of these people are internet warriors, saying things that they would never have the guts to do in person, but it’s still pretty disturbing to read.

Dutch Tolerantie

Dutch tolerance is fine for same-sex relationships, attitude towards drugs and prostitution, but there appears to be a blind spot, or better said a black spot when it comes to Zwarte Piet. Anger, hysteria, and hatred are often displayed by ZP supporters with even death threats being made to people that suggest making changes to the appearance of Zwarte Piet. Last year the Dutch singer, Anouk, who happens to be in a relationship with a black man, made some negative comments about Zwarte Piet. She was called a black man loving whore and received death threats.  There wasn’t much evidence of the famous Dutch tolerance visible there.

My personal view is, by all means, keep Zwarte Piet, don’t make any changes to him, in fact, do as Groningen are planning this year and make him even blacker, by all means. My only request is for the Dutch to stop describing themselves as ‘tolerant’ when the actions of so many neo-Zwarte Piet supporters in recent months appear to prove that the opposite is the case and that the famous Dutch ‘tolerantie’ is a thing of the past.

The Netherlands is no more tolerant than many other countries I’ve lived in or visited, and the general attitude towards people using their democratic rights here to attempt to make changes to something that they find offensive is overwhelmingly negative and downright hateful in many cases. The Polder model and the famous Dutch attributes of open-mindedness and willingness to hold a civilized debate have been replaced by hatred and now violence as well.

 

Dutch tolerantie, nothing offensive about this at all
Dutch tolerantie, 2014
Zwarte Piet example
US Lynching 1889

Yes, I’m a bloody foreigner, and what gives me the right to comment on a “Dutch” issue? Well this allochtoon lives, works and pays taxes here, and the Netherlands is toch een democratie hoor!

No open minded Dutch female singers were hurt during the writing of this post.

A prize to the first person that tells me “if you don’t like it here, go back to your own country”. Why do people say this? Do they not realize that there’s Internet access in the UK as well? If I was to move back to London, why would that stop me commentating on Dutch society? Dom, dom, dom.

Till next time. Speak your mind, freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Dutch constitution.

 

 

 

 

About Simon Woolcot

Infamous blogger, annoyance and self-confessed Shallow Man. Simon is a British expat who has lived in Amsterdam since 2004. As well as writing this blog, Simon also has a YouTube channel of the same name, writes and directs videos and hosts seminars about life in the Netherlands. He also works as a content marketing and SEO specialist.