Dutch government backtracks on migrant family reunions

Of note:

The Dutch government on Wednesday backtracked on restrictions that it placed last year on family members joining asylum-seekers who are granted residency in the Netherlands, after courts ruled the move was unlawful.

State Secretary for Justice and Security Eric van der Burg said in a letter to parliament that he expects other courts to follow suit “as a result of which the useful effect of the measure is temporarily absent.”

Van der Burg said he is temporarily suspending the family reunion restrictions pending a definitive ruling by a Dutch administrative court.

The justice ministry introduced the restrictions last year as part of a raft of measures aimed at reining in the high numbers of migrants arriving in the Netherlands that led to a housing crisis and overcrowding at asylum-seeker centers.

The problems came to a head in the summer when hundreds of people were forced to sleep outdoors in unsanitary conditions outside the country’s main migrant reception center in the northern village of Ter Apel.

The conditions at the camp were so bad that the Dutch branch of humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders sent a team to tend to the migrants, the first time the agency had deployed in the Netherlands.

In an attempt to ease the overcrowding, the government in late August announced measures including a move to temporarily rein in family reunions until migrants are permanently housed, provide more housing for people whose asylum requests are honored and process and repatriate people quicker from countries that are considered safe.

But a number of courts have since ruled that such family reunions can go ahead.

The Dutch council for Refugees has been highly critical of the policy, calling for it to be scrapped and labeling it “politics at its most ugly.”

Source: Dutch government backtracks on migrant family reunions

Photos That Helped to Document the Holocaust Were Taken by a Nazi

Of interest, and the importance of what is “outside the frame” and context to understanding these and other photographs:

On June 20, 1943, bewildered and terrified families, laden with baggage and branded with yellow stars, were forced into Olympiaplein, one of this city’s most recognizable public squares. Few knew where they were going, or for how long, so they wore their winter coats despite the blazing sun as they registered with the Nazi authorities.

A Dutch photographer, Herman Heukels, moved through the crowd, taking pictures of people who would soon be deported to concentration camps. His images would be the final portraits of many of these people, who were among 5,500 sent that day from Amsterdam to Westerbork transit camp, and then on to “the east.” The vast majority would never return.

Heukels’s photos are some of the strongest visual evidence used by historians to illustrate the Holocaust in the Netherlands, which took the lives of more than 102,000 of the estimated 140,000 Jewish civilians who lived in the country before World War II.

Yet despite their ubiquity in books and films, few people outside of scholarly circles know that these images were actually taken by a Dutch Nazi. He intended to depict Jews in a demeaning light. Instead, he ended up paying stark witness to the atrocities of the Third Reich.

“These are very famous photos, some of the most requested photos in our archive from across the whole world,” said René Kok, a researcher at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam. The institute holds an archive of about 30 original Heukels photos from the Dutch Ministry of Justice, which confiscated them as part of his postwar collaboration trial.

In recent months, a deeper sense of Heukels’s beliefs and motivations has emerged from a biography published in Dutch this spring that reveals how an ordinary young man from Zwolle became radicalized as a member of the Dutch Nazi party. The book, by Machlien Vlasblom, a Dutch World War II historian, provides new insights into how Heukels betrayed Jewish people from his town, looted their businesses and property, and recorded their history as a press photographer for the Dutch S.S.

“He captured them at their weakest moments,” Vlasblom said in an interview, “and the way he acted there was rude and brutal. Of course, he put the Nazi ideology into these images.”

How does this new information change the way we might look at these photos? Or how historians might use them, or contextualize them in the future?

The photos are “quite exceptional,” said a NIOD researcher, Kees Ribbens, a professor of Popular Historical Culture and Mass Violence at Erasmus University Rotterdam, because they “show the Holocaust taking place in a very well-known place in the center of Amsterdam. They show how the whole bureaucracy of deportation worked.”

Yet, these are “not innocent images,” said the Amsterdam-based Israeli artist Ram Katzir, who recently used one of Heukels’s pictures as the foundation for a memorial he created for the site of deportations. The artwork, “Shadows,” unveiled on the 79th anniversary of the raid in June, reproduced the shadows of the deportees from the photos, in the exact locations on Olympiaplein where they were last documented alive.

“We had no names of any of the victims,” said Katzir, so he deliberated a lot about whether to include Heukels’s name on the information plaque. In the end, he decided to do so. “It’s a double-edged image; and if you hide that, you hide the role of the collaborator.”

Katzir added, “When you look at the information plaque, you’re standing exactly where the photographer stood.”

In fact, a majority of the surviving images of Jewish persecution in the Netherlands were “made from the point of view of the persecutor,” Ribbens said. These include those by Bart de Kok, a member of the Dutch Nazi Party, known as N.S.B., and a German press photographer, Franz Anton Stapf, who captured some of the last images of Amsterdam’s Jewish community before it was decimated.

Janina Struk, author of the 2005 book “Photographing the Holocaust: Interpretations of the Evidence,” said that in the postwar period, photos taken by bystanders, perpetrators and victims were “all kind of mixed together,” and hardly anyone asked who had shot the photos or for what purposes.

“Until quite recently, historians have not really been so concerned about who took the pictures, and why they took them and what they were for,” she said. “It’s been rather historians using pictures as illustrations of a text, rather than being a text themselves.”

In recent years, she added, there has been a greater emphasis on contextualizing the images, explaining how they were made, so that viewers have a better understanding of what they’re looking at — and so people can make better ethical choices about how to present them.

Ribbens said that in learning that Heukels’s aim was to publish his photos in Storm S.S., a Dutch Nazi propaganda weekly (they were never published there), we can think about what he chose to leave out of the frame. In his series, he said, we don’t see the Nazi officials or the Dutch police who were forcibly rounding up civilians.

It doesn’t automatically raise the question: Who organized this, who is responsible for this persecution?” he said. “People show up, and it’s not clear what kind of stress they’re under, why they’re sent here, what choice did they have in leaving their homes, why they didn’t find a hiding place? What was so threatening about it?”

The official policy of the German occupiers was that no images of Jewish people could be published in the “legal” Dutch press, explained NIOD researcher and photography expert Erik Somers. Propaganda newspapers, however, could print such images alongside articles with expressly antisemitic content.

As a result, a high proportion of Holocaust images, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere, were taken by Nazi-endorsed propaganda photographers who had explicit permission to carry cameras, Struk said. Other images came from German soldiers who specifically sought out “souvenir” images of Jews who they thought fit a physical stereotype.

“We know that the Germans used photography as a weapon, and they invested a great deal in propaganda photography,” said Sheryl Silver Ochayon, program director for Echoes & Reflections, an educational arm of Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel.

“Photographs never killed anyone,” she added, “but what photographs can do is they can justify an ideology. If you present your victims as low or passive, or like vermin, you can justify a genocidal plan of action, as the Germans did.”

Vlasblom began her research when a friend from church, Gerard Visser, asked her to look at a box of family letters he had inherited. Although he knew the papers concerned his two great-uncles, Herman Heukels and Jan Heukels, who was also a Nazi collaborator, he said in an interview, “I didn’t really know the family structure, so I didn’t know who sent what to whom or why.”

Not everyone in Visser’s family is pleased that Vlasblom’s book, “We waren supermannen (We Were Supermen),” which also includes information about Jan Heukels, called attention to these two ancestors who were collaborators.

“You hear all the heroic resistance stories from Holland,” Visser said, “but there are people like the Heukels, who really did bad things. I felt that part of a country’s history should also be told.”

Does knowing more about Herman Heukels’s personal biography imply that historians should use these photographs in a different way — or even use them less often?

Somers from the NIOD, the Dutch archive, said these images continue to be a valuable historical source, but the Heukelses’ story underscores the importance of providing context to pictures.

“You have to find out from the beginning the elements of those photos,” he said, “who made the photo and for what purpose, and in what context?”

Struk added, “We need to move away from the idea that a photograph is just a window on the world. It isn’t. It’s a very edited version of what the photographer chose to photograph.”

Source: Photos That Helped to Document the Holocaust Were Taken by a Nazi

Netherlands: University funding row raises Chinese influence fears

Not unique to the Netherlands:

The Free University of Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam or VU Amsterdam) in the Netherlands has said it will return Chinese funding for its Cross Cultural Human Rights Centre (CCHRC) after an embarrassing row over Chinese influence on academia when it emerged that several of the centre’s academics publicly denied China oppresses Uyghur peoples.

But the row in the Netherlands amid other recent controversies over Chinese funding of university centres and Confucius Institutes in Germany and the United Kingdom has also made university disclosure of foreign funding more urgent, academics said. 

In 2018, 2019 and 2020, the CCHRC at VU Amsterdam received a subsidy of between €250,000 (US$282,000) and €300,000 (US$339,000) from the Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing, China. 

According to documents obtained by Dutch broadcaster NOS, the Chinese university was the sole financial contributor to the CCHRC during those years, which has raised eyebrows. 

VU Amsterdam has said it would return the money it had already received from China for this year, NOS revealed last week. But the university only backed down after the damaging revelations prompted a public outcry and strong statements by the Dutch education minister and others condemning the activities of the centre. 

On Wednesday NOS said the activities of the Centre were being suspended, with all its lectures for students cancelled, ascribing the decision to the executive board and deans of the university. The Centre’s activities were already in doubt after the return of funds, making it dependent on the university or other donors for its continued survival. 

The row blew up just as the Dutch education ministry is due to present its National Guidelines on Knowledge Security on 31 January and to announce its ‘Government-wide knowledge security front-office’, which is expected to have an advisory role and support universities in identifying risks. 

It also followed the publication last week of the European Commission ‘toolkit’ for universities on how to deal with foreign interference. 

Dutch Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf responded swiftly and unequivocally to the report, saying he was “very shocked” that the funding arrangement signalled possible academic dependence. 

“It is urgent and sensible that the Free University now takes action quickly. Scientific core values such as academic freedom, integrity and independence must always be guaranteed,” he said in a statement. 

The minister added: “It is important that Dutch knowledge institutions are and remain alert to possible risks of undesired influence by other countries and that they take adequate measures to safeguard academic core values, especially when it comes to universal values like human rights.”

The centre runs an academic journal and organises conferences. Its mission, laid down in the financing agreement with the Chinese university, is to draw attention to a “global view of human rights”, and specifically to the way in which non-Western countries such as China view human rights.

University’s lukewarm initial response

After a lukewarm initial response when the university merely underlined that “as befits the Free University, the research of the CCHRC is independent, interdisciplinary, dialogical and socially relevant”, it added to its statement just hours later, saying “even the appearance of dependence is unacceptable” and announced that it was “taking appropriate measures”, including halting the funding from China. 

The university said it has not yet decided whether it will also refund subsidies from previous years, but it said it would first conduct an investigation to determine “whether the independence of the institute’s research has been safeguarded on all fronts”.

The CCHRC website noted in October 2020 that a delegation of people affiliated to the centre ‘recently’ visited the western Chinese region of Xinjiang. 

Western researchers estimate that over a million ethnic minority Uyghurs are being held in  ‘re-education camps’, widely regarded as a euphemism for concentration camps, in Xinjiang. Several countries, including the United States, have accused China of genocide against the Uyghurs. 

However, the CCHRC website noted: “The situation we encountered in the four cities in this trip did not reflect the grim situation as depicted in the Western reports. There is definitely no discrimination of Uyghurs or other minorities in the region.”

CCHRC Director Tom Zwart, who is also a frequent guest at Chinese state events and on Chinese state television, told NOS any similarities between the centre’s positions online and those of the Communist Party were “coincidental” and were not steered by any direct influence. 

Zwart described the CCHRC website as a place for “uncensored free thought”, ascribing the comments on its webpages to individuals “who do not represent the organisation as a whole”.

On 26 January CCHRC released a new statement on its website saying the website would be “temporarily taken offline” in order “to check whether a sufficiently clear distinction is made between statements made on behalf of the Centre and opinions and observations made in a personal capacity.”

It added: “[The] Centre explicitly endorses the conclusions of the United Nations regarding the systematic violation of the Uyghur human rights. In this vein, the Centre’s director, in the presence of members of the Chinese State Council and the Politburo, called on 8 April 2021 to respect and protect the rights of Uyghurs and stop repressive anti-terrorism policies.”

Is academic freedom compromised?

Ingrid d’Hooghe, an expert on China-Europe relations and senior research fellow at the Leiden Asia Centre, Leiden University in the Netherlands, said: “The director of the Centre said in an interview which was also on TV that they were fully independent, there was nothing that made them say what they were saying. But apparently it did not cross their mind that even if they are independent, it doesn’t look like it.”

Dutch academic Lokman Tsui, a researcher on digital freedoms and a former assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said via Twitter: “Important to note: until this year, they [the university in Chongqing] were the only funder. Problematic, because it’s hard to be independent if your research centre relies on one single funder. Problematic also, because public universities in China are closely affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party.”

Tsui added: “But whether the research centre is independent or not is also beside the question. The more important question is: Why is the university allowing its integrity and its reputation to be compromised by accepting money meant to validate China’s atrocious human rights record?”

Andreas Fulda, associate professor at the University of Nottingham, UK, and an expert on Europe-China relations and academic freedom, said: “If they had also received funding from the Dutch government or from the EU or whoever else, they could say they are not dependent on just one funder. But if you’re completely dependent on one funder and you lose autonomy, you are more likely to bend your research in one way or another.” 

“A member of the Dutch public will not know whether this [research] is the genuine article or whether this is something that is deeply problematic – this is the area where we enter the field of idea laundering and reputation laundering [by China],” Fulda told University World News

Need for disclosure legislation

“We need legislation that universities have to make funding public,” Fulda said, pointing to Section 117 of the United States Higher Education Act which requires universities that receive foreign gifts of US$250,000 or more within a calendar year to file a disclosure report to the government. 

Other draft foreign influence bills, including the Senate Bill S.1169 in the US, are currently attempting to tighten those rules, including reducing the amount that has to be declared by institutions and individuals if the funding comes from certain countries such as China, after a number of universities failed to report substantial foreign gifts under Section 117

An amendment to the UK Higher Education Bill tabled on 12 January in the House of Commons would require disclosures of foreign funds of £50,000 (US$68,000) going back 10 years. 

“The question is, if the Dutch government or other governments in Europe issued new regulations where universities were forced to make these contracts public, whether it would change things, and I think it would,” said Fulda. 

Leiden Asia Centre’s d’Hooghe said: “There is no regulation that forces people to register somewhere what kind of collaboration they have. With new regulations in Australia and, to a certain extent, in the US and Canada, you have to become public with that kind of information. Not so in the Netherlands.”

“It’s not necessarily that people want to keep it a secret, it’s just not something that is done routinely. So at top levels in the university, but often even at the faculty level, the departments don’t have a good overview of exactly what kind of research is being done with whom, and how this is financed,” she said

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) published a “Framework for Knowledge Security” in July 2021 that outlined risks and the need for monitoring research collaboration, as well as recommending that universities set up their own internal ‘knowledge security advisory team’ to include experts such as cybersecurity specialists.

The focus is on building risk awareness but does not go as far as requiring disclosure of foreign funding. Some universities have pointed out that they cannot ‘police’ research or researchers on behalf of the government. 

Who will investigate?

The Netherlands Inspectorate of Education has not indicated that it will carry out a broader investigation into China influence at universities in the country, saying in a statement following the VU Amsterdam row: “No other signals about Chinese influence are known to the inspectorate.”

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement that the Inspectorate of Education “would be wise to do more homework in this area”.

“In a decade of documenting Chinese government threats to academic freedom around the world, Human Rights Watch has found threats at universities from Australia to the United States, and proposed a code of conduct to help mitigate these risks. 

“One key step: universities should publicly disclose all direct and indirect Chinese government funding and a list of projects and exchanges with Chinese government counterparts on an annual basis,” she said.

“In showing its permeability to Chinese government influence, the Free University shouldn’t limit its response simply to returning the funding. It should urgently assess whether students and scholars of and from China on its campus are subjected to harassment or surveillance,” which she noted had been well documented elsewhere, notably in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. 

“University leadership and scholars should assess whether censorship and self-censorship have eroded the curriculum or classroom debate,” Richardson added. 

“The Free University should also join forces with counterparts across Europe – from Berlin to Cambridge to Budapest – who have faced similar problems, and agree to share information and adopt common standards with the goal of collectively resisting Beijing’s efforts to curtail academic freedom. The list of potential participants – supposedly ‘free’ universities – is disturbingly long.”

EU toolkit for universities: will it make a difference?

The EU issued a toolkit for universities on 18 January. Although it is comprehensive, d’Hooghe noted that “these rules are not binding because the EU has no competence in the area of education”. Universities are outside Brussels’ remit.

She saw it more as a “service to EU member states who still don’t have national rules, who find it very difficult to develop them or don’t have the capacity to develop them”.

While many ongoing collaboration projects with Chinese universities continue, despite academics and researchers being unable to travel due to pandemic restrictions, d’Hooghe said she knew of many who “are staying away” from starting new projects with China, in part due to risks, including reputational risks. 

But she noted that legislation on a national level regarding foreign influence could be tricky. “University autonomy is regarded as an important value and very important for science to advance, so universities are very reluctant to be limited by binding regulations.”

Source: https://www.universityworldnews.com/post-nl.php?story=20220126093628860

Dutch king won’t use a royal carriage that’s been criticized for a colonial image

Wise move:

The Dutch king ruled out Thursday using, for now at least, the royal family’s “Golden Carriage,” one side of which bears a painting that critics say glorifies the Netherlands’ colonial past, including its role in the global slave trade.

The announcement was an acknowledgement of the heated debate about the carriage as the Netherlands reckons with the grim sides of its history as a 17th-century colonial superpower, including Dutch merchants making vast fortunes from slaves.

“The Golden Carriage will only be able to drive again when the Netherlands is ready and that is not the case now,” King Willem-Alexander said in a video message.

One side of the vehicle is decorated with a painting called “Tribute from the Colonies” that shows Black and Asian people, one of them kneeling, offering goods to a seated young white woman who symbolizes the Netherlands.

The carriage is currently on display in an Amsterdam museum following a lengthy restoration. In the past it has been used to carry Dutch monarchs through the streets of The Hague to the state opening of Parliament each September.

“There is no point in condemning and disqualifying what has happened through the lens of our time,” the king said. “Simply banning historical objects and symbols is certainly not a solution either. Instead, a concerted effort is needed that goes deeper and takes longer. An effort that unites us instead of divides us.”

Anti-racism activist and co-founder of The Black Archives in Amsterdam, Mitchell Esajas, called the king’s statement “a good sign,” but also the “bare minimum” the monarch could have said.

“He says the past should not be looked at from the perspective and values of the present … and I think that’s a fallacy because also in the historical context slavery can be seen as a crime against humanity and a violent system,” he said. “I think that argument is often used as an excuse to kind of polish away the violent history of it.”

The Netherlands, along with many other nations, has been revisiting its colonial history in a process spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement that swept the world after the death of Black man George Floyd in the United States.

Last year, the country’s national museum, the Rijksmuseum, staged a major exhibition that took an unflinching look at the country’s role in the slave trade, and Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema apologized for the extensive involvement of the Dutch capital’s former governors in the trade.

Halsema said she wanted to “engrave the great injustice of colonial slavery into our city’s identity.”

Source: Dutch king won’t use a royal carriage that’s been criticized for a colonial image

Denmark to classify immigrants from Muslim countries separately in crime statistics

If it covered more groups than just Muslims, it would both be more useful as well as less identity politics based (Canada would benefit from regularized breakdowns by visible minority groups for crime, health and other statistics):

Immigration and integration minister Mattias Tesfaye has signalled his support for the statistical differentiation of people in Denmark with Middle Eastern and North African heritage.

Categorising people according to region is beneficial in understanding patterns of crime and employment in people in Denmark with foreign heritage (indvandrere og efterkommere), the minister said in an interview with newspaper Berlingske.

“We need more honest numbers and I think it will benefit and qualify the integration debate if we get these figures out in the open, because fundamentally, they show that we in Denmark don’t really have problems with people from Latin America and the Far East. We have problems with people from the Middle East and North Africa,” Tesfaye said to the newspaper.

Under the current system, Denmark differentiates between ‘Western’ and ‘non-Western’ heritage in official statistics on immigrants and their children.

All EU countries, along with Andorra, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Vatican are considered ‘Western’. Everywhere else is ‘non-Western’.

A person is considered to have Danish heritage if she or he has at least one parent who is a Danish citizen and was born in Denmark. People defined as ‘immigrants’ and ‘descendants’ do not fulfil those criteria.

While an ‘immigrant’ was born outside of Denmark, a ‘descendant’ (efterkommer) is also considered to be ‘foreign’ for statistical purposes, despite being born in Denmark.

But the Ministry of Immigration and Integration is to further separate the two groups of immigrants and their children into the so-called ‘Menapt’ group, meaning people from the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey, according to Berlingske and Ritzau.

All are Muslim-majority countries or regions.

The nationalities encompassed by the group are over-represented in crime and unemployment statistics, Ritzau writes.

According to a ministry note reported by Berlingske, women with heritage in Menapt countries had an employment rate of 41.9 percent in 2018, compared to 61.6 percent for women from other non-Western countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: Denmark to classify immigrants from Muslim countries separately in crime statistics

George Floyd’s Death And Years Of Dialogue Are Helping The Dutch Disown Black Pete

Of note. Signs of change:

The Dutch Sinterklaas differs from Santa Claus in a few key respects. His physique is slimmer (less paunch under the white beard), he resides not in the North Pole but in Madrid — and instead of driving a reindeer-powered sled, he travels by boat to Dutch shores to deliver presents.

And instead of relying on helper elves, Sinterklaas is assisted by a character known as Zwarte Piet or Black Pete — traditionally depicted by white people wearing blackface, Afro wigs and red lipstick.

After long defending the character and even admitting to painting his own face black in the past, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced in June that his views on Black Pete had changed. Though he stopped short of calling for a ban, he said that societal pressure would soon force the character to retire. He also admitted that there are “systemic problems” with racism in the Netherlands.

Rutte’s announcement came in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minnesota police, as large crowds of protesters took to the streets of Amsterdam and other Dutch cities to demonstrate against racial injustice.

For Jerry Afriyie, who leads an Amsterdam-based advocacy organization called Kick Out Zwarte Piet, Rutte’s words were long overdue. Getting others to understand Black Pete as racist has been his mission for a decade.

Over the years, for his stance against Black Pete, Afriyie has been pelted with beer cans and bananas and targeted with death threats. Last November in The Hague, a group of masked men armed with baseball bats and fireworks tried to break up a peaceful meeting between Afriyie and fellow activists.

Still, Afriyie (whose middle names are Luther and King) is committed to dialogue. Every Sinterklaas season, he leaves his home in Amsterdam and travels to Dutch cities and towns where Black Pete is still publicly celebrated to try to build consensus on admitting that Black Pete is racist.

“You talk and talk and talk and talk until you reach consensus”

Last year, committees in several Dutch cities agreed that Black Pete should not appear in their city’s Sinterklaas parades, but more than a dozen smaller towns affirmed the opposite: Black Pete would be welcome in their parades and school plays.

Many of Afriyie’s fellow activists have told him that achieving consensus on the issue of Black Pete is impossible; the country is too divided. But building consensus has a unique place in Dutch politics and society.

Some scholars say the Dutch value placed on collective action is engineered into the landscape. Much of the Netherlands would be underwater if not for a system of dikes that protects the country from flooding. The Dutch polder model” of consensus-building takes its name from the Dutch word for land below sea level that used to be seafloor.

Former Prime Minister Wim Kok used his polder consensus-building skills to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001, making the Netherlands the first country in the world to do so.

Amma Asante, a former member of Parliament and the only woman of color to serve during her term, says the polder model means “you talk and talk and talk and talk until you reach consensus,” and it “works the best when we are able to lay aside our strongest convictions of how things should be done or how the world should look like.”

From Black Pete to Chimney Pete?

Black Pete attained prominence in the 1850s, around the time when minstrel shows became popular in the United States. The Netherlands banned slavery in its colonies in 1863, but prior to that, some wealthy families brought enslaved people from those colonies to work in their Amsterdam homes. The original costume of Black Pete, with colorful, satiny sleeves, mimicked the way the families would dress enslaved Black children.

And yet, defenders of the tradition often claim that Black Pete is simply “dirty” from coming down the chimney — he isn’t even Black.

Afriyie always saw the chimney explanation as a way to silence Black perspectives. He, Asante and many other Black Dutch citizens have been called “Black Pete” as an insult.

“What the country tells you is ‘Try to unsee it,’ ” Afriyie says. “Like what you are seeing is not true.”

But he came to wonder if this denial of the problem might in fact offer a solution. He started to suggest replacing Black Pete with a new character called Chimney Pete, with just a smudge of soot on his face — someone like Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins.

Defenders of Black Pete hated this idea. Blackface was the tradition, they argued. But many Afro-Dutch thinkers objected as well. Gloria Wekker, author of White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race, says Chimney Pete was “a surface solution.” Soot or blackface, the tradition itself was tainted.

But Chimney Pete has caught on. In cities where Black Pete has been banned from Sinterklaas parades, Chimney Pete has taken his place. This November, the boat carrying Sinterklaas will once again arrive at Dutch shores, accompanied by an entourage of Chimney Petes.

Asante admits she was doubtful that consensus-building could work when it came to racism, and she was surprised when she saw large crowds gather in the Netherlands this spring in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. If not for all those years of “poldering” and engaging in dialogue about Black Pete, she wondered if the killing of George Floyd would have started a conversation about racism in the Netherlands.

“There’s quite a risk that we could have said, ‘Oh, that’s in the United States. That’s not us,’ ” she says. “And now there’s no denial anymore.”

Source: George Floyd’s Death And Years Of Dialogue Are Helping The Dutch Disown Black Pete

Netherlands: Media and politicians, get over your pessimism about integration

Interesting overview of Dutch debates contrasted with minority group outcomes:

It’s time for the media and politicians to overcome their pessimism about integration, says Leiden professor Leo Lucassen.

Twenty years ago the Netherlands witnessed the rise of Pim Fortuyn. In the wake of his death on May 6 2002, his party Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF) scored 26 seats in the elections.

Many were taken completely by surprise by the massive win and the social discontent about immigration and integration that was at the bottom of it. Journalists and commentators, as well as many politicians, were beating themselves up for not having seen it coming.

Yet the groundwork had been laid as early as the 1990s by then VVD parliamentary party leader Frits Bolkestein, Fortuyn’s columns in Elsevier magazine and Paul Scheffer’s article ‘The multicultural tragedy’ in the NRC.

But it was the death of Fortuyn and the explosive rise of the LPF which kicked off the pessimism about integration which is continuing to this day. Driven by guilt for having been too politically correct during the 1980s and 1990s, many a journalist and politician made a complete u-turn.

Central was the idea of a ‘clash of civilisations’, proposed by American political scientist Samuel Huntington and introduced in the Netherlands by Bolkestein among others. It predicted a new conflict between ‘western civilisation’ and Islam in the wake of the implosion of the Soviet Union, and generated a generally pessimistic climate with respect to the integration of Moroccan and Turkish migrants and their children in particular.

Second-generation problems, such as criminality and radicalisation – the murder of Theo van Gogh by Mohammed Bouyeri, for example – unemployment and school dropout numbers were not only highlighted but also considered as the ultimate proof that the multicultural ideal was a left-wing utopia that has crashed and burned.

The members of a parliamentary commission on integration policy, led by the then VVD MP Stef Blok, which concluded that integration had been a completely or partially successful barely escaped being tarred and feathered. Their findings, it was assumed, simply could not and should not be true.

With hindsight. the commission’s conclusions were right: there were all sorts of problems and disadvantages but all the trends pointed in the right direction.

And now, 15 years later, despite the dominant pessimism about integration, the children of low-skilled labour migrants are continuing to do better, both in education and the jobs market.

In 2016, socio-cultural thinktank SCP found that Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese and Antillean representation in the crime stats had almost halved since 2006.

A survey by the same think tank published at the end of last year showed that a considerable number of Dutch people, particularly those with a lower level of education and the elderly, are paying scant attention to these facts and continue to think that newcomers are barely integrating.

Over half think that former migrant workers and colonial migrants from Suriname and the Antilles should adopt ‘Dutch cultural traditions’ and distance themselves from their own. Many also think ‘they’ are out to ‘do away with’ ‘our’ traditions, such as blackface Zwarte Piet.

An 80% majority think migrants should, at any rate, adopt ‘Dutch values and norms’. That is not an unreasonable stance, and is certainly valid when it comes to  learning the language, paying tax and abiding by the law but on closer inspection many people take it to means something completely different.

To them ‘Dutch values and norms’ are unique cultural characteristics which, they assume, are new to immigrants and their children. Many of these values are in fact not so uniquely Dutch and many newcomers have similar outlooks. Moreover, many Dutch citizens do not share such lauded ideals of women’s and gay rights, as radical right-wing Tweets and Facebook entries demonstrate every single day.

And lastly, a Dutch person with a migration background is, like any other citizen, perfectly entitled to question certain traditions, such as the blackface Pete.

But as long as people perpetuate the artificial division between ‘them’ and ‘us’ they contribute, perhaps unwittingly, to the exclusion of immigrants. It should not come as a surprise that the children of many immigrants are saying they have done their bit to integrate and that it is now up to the majority to do theirs.

Journalists, commentators and politicians should finally shake off the Fortuyn trauma and stop treating immigrants to this country as a separate category. That would not only recognise the true measure of integration but also contribute to a more pleasant and healthier social climate.

Source: Media and politicians, get over your pessimism about integration

Netherlands: Immigration emerges as key 2020 issue as CDA calls for new targets

Of note:

The next general election may not be due until March 2021, but immigration is already emerging as a key issue, thanks to various pronouncements by ruling party stalwarts over the Christmas break.

Christian Democrat member and deputy prime minister Hugo de Jonge became the latest to add his voice to the debate at the weekend when he said he backed new limits on immigration. His comments followed the publication of new figures from national statistics agency CBS which showed immigration from European countries was largely responsible for further growth in the population of the Netherlands. De Jonge said in an interview with the NRC that the Netherlands needs extra skills and workers, and that it should continue to take in refugees.

The Netherlands, he said, does extremely well when it comes to solidarity ‘but, if we want to continue in this way, we have to set limits’. De Jonge declined to give exact figures, preferring instead to talk about ‘targets’. Allowing in 80,000 migrants a year is too many, he said ‘if you calculate how that adds up over time’.

Earlier in the break, prime minister Mark Rutte gave an interview to the Telegraaf in which he said that the free movement of people within Europe is coming under pressure because countries on the edge of Europe were failing to differentiate between refugee and economic migrants. ‘They have to stop the second group,’ Rutte said. ‘If that does not happen, then the Schengen agreement has had it.

The main point in Europe next year (2020) will be migration.’ Poland Refugees made up just 6% of the 132,000 total increase in the population last year, the CBS figures show. Most new arrivals are from Poland, followed by Germany and India.

Also last year, ChristenUnie from the government coalition and the opposition Socialists said they wanted to make it possible for the Netherlands to agree deals with Poland, Romania and Bulgaria about how many and what type of worker should be allowed to come and work here.

‘Ukranians are replacing Poles. Poles, sometimes working in poor conditions, are replacing the Dutch. And [Dutch] people on welfare benefits are being written off,’ ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers said at the time.

Source: Immigration emerges as key 2020 issue as CDA calls for new targets

Gov’t obliges Dutch schools to give good ‘citizenship’ lessons | NL Times

Basic civics appears to be the focus (“freedom of speech, equality, understanding others, tolerance, autonomy, rejecting intolerance and rejecting discrimination”):

All Dutch primary- and secondary schools are obliged to give good “citizenship” lessons focused on the “basic values of the democratic constitutional state” in a new legislative proposal by Minister Arie Slob for Primary and Secondary Education, NOS reports.

“After all, children are not born with a ‘democratic gene’,” the Minister wrote in the explanation of his legislative proposal. “Therefore schools have an important task in educating our children to know their rights and respect the rights of others.” The new law applies to all schools, including private schools. The Education Inspectorate can intervene if schools do not provide enough citizenship education. Now the inspectorate can only intervene if no citizenship lessons are given at all.

Schools have been obliged to give separate lessons on citizenship for the past ten years, though how and when they did so were left up to them. “Some do it perfectly and have citizenship in the DNA of the school”, Slob said, according to the broadcaster. “With others, citizenship is done with one lesson per year.” The Minister wants to put an end to this non-commitment. According to him, the “government aims to oblige the entire school community to make an effort to put into practice the clearer concept of citizenship.”

Under the new law schools must include their approach to citizenship in the school guide and teachers must be a good example for their pupils. There is no detailed curriculum in the law, because schools have the freedom to chose their teaching methods and materials themselves. The law does state that schools must focus on freedom of speech, equality, understanding others, tolerance, autonomy, rejecting intolerance and rejecting discrimination. Things like Liberation Day, the Wilhelmus, the National Remembrance of Dutch Slavery and the Keti Koti Festival can be used to reflect on “historical development and the meaning of living together in the Netherlands”, Slob recommends.

The Dutch government considers the separate lessons on citizenship, in addition to other lessons, to be very important given the “current situation of increasing tensions and declining ties”. It is important for pupils to come into contact with cultures other than their own during school time, and to learn to embrace the democratic constitutional state, according to the government.

The internet consultation of the new law starts on Tuesday. Anyone can comment on the law. If the Tweede Kamer and Eerste Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament and the Dutch Senate, passes the law, it will be implemented in the next school year.

via Gov’t obliges Dutch schools to give good ‘citizenship’ lessons | NL Times

Brexit: Dutch nationals living in Britain will be allowed dual citizenship | The Guardian

Dutch pragmatism:

The new Dutch government will allow its citizens living in the UK to take up dual citizenship, according to a coalition agreement announced on Tuesday, which pledges to prioritise both its people and EU unity in the Brexit negotiations.

After a record 208 days, agreement was struck between four parties on Tuesday to form a centre-right government led by the liberal prime minister, Mark Rutte.

The blueprint – agreed by Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the Christian Democrats, the centrist and pro-European Union D66 party and the faith-based Christian Union – spells out plans for tax cuts, lessons in national identity and an experiment with state-sanctioned cannabis plantations over the next four years.

It also pledges to fight for the Dutch fishing industry in the Brexit negotiations, maintain solidarity with the EU in the talks with the UK, and legislate to allow its citizens living in Britain the chance to have dual citizenship.

The document says: “The cabinet will prepare proposals for the modernisation of nationality law. It concerns an extension of the possibility of possession of multiple nationalities for prospective first generation emigrants and immigrants.”

Until now, Dutch nationals who take British citizenship to avoid having to leave the UK after Brexit would have been stripped of their Netherlands passports due to limits on dual nationality.

Even as late as July, Rutte defended the policy, telling reporters that “countering dual nationality remains one of this cabinet’s policies”, in response to a petition with 22,000 signatures calling for a government rethink.

About 100,000 Dutch nationals living in Britain face an uncertain future after March 2019. The UK and EU are yet to reconcile their differences on the citizens’ rights issue.

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch MEP, said her party, the liberal D66, had pushed for the change to help Dutch citizens in the UK.

She said: “It is a major step forward, but it doesn’t apply immediately. We will have to legislate. But when we do, people who emigrate will have the right to dual nationality, although their children will have to choose their single nationality at some point.

“The document also pledges to maintain EU solidarity in the talks, which may disappoint some in Britain but that is the way it is.”

Source: Brexit: Dutch nationals living in Britain will be allowed dual citizenship | World news | The Guardian