Tjebbe van Tijen via Chello on Tue, 31 Jan 2006 11:59:32 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-nl] Double Dutch & a Dutch Wife*

As I have entered Rita Verdonk as a name on Google News Alert because of her statement on speaking Dutch in public places ...

God give that I am still allowed to do so without raising suspicion... as a children's song
"roodborstje tikt tegen het raam... laat mij er in" (red robin ticks against the window... let me in) became lately classified as a terrorist song)

... I am regularly posted on 'Verdonkania' related to this 'Dutch Wife' in the international 'news'.

I thought the following one from an ExPat site in the Netherlands should get a wider reading: subchannel_id=19&story_id=27162&name=Verdonk's+folly


* a 'dutch wife' (Datch Waifu in Japanese) is used for a special sleeping pillow, or a bamboo device to keep the sheets from a sweating body in the tropics, later also sex doll and prostitute)

Verdonk's folly
The Rotterdam Citizenship Code

 We Rotterdammers: -

1. take responsibility for our city and for each other, and don't discriminate against each other;
2. use Dutch (Nederlands) as our common language;
3. don't accept radicalization or extremism;
4. rear our children to be valuable citizens;
5. treat women equally to men, and with respect;
6. treat gay people equally to heterosexuals and with respect;
7. treat people of other religions and none equally, and with respect.


Most of the sentiments outlined in this code that was drawn up by the local municipality in Rotterdam are admirable. So admirable, Immigration and Integration Minster Rita Verdonk thinks it is a model for the entire Netherlands.

Critics - there were a lot of them - immediately attacked Verdonk's emphasis on point number 2. She came out and suggested Dutch should be compulsory in public. She backtracked later in face of widespread opposition (and ridicule). But it is clear Verdonk's sees the code purely in terms of another tool to chastise newcomers and foreigners. It is not about living together; it is about keeping people apart, as far as Verdonk is concerned.


Verdonk, it seems, is worried that autochtonen (real Dutch people, in her way of thinking) are frightened, or at least annoyed, when they hear another language spoken on the streets of the country's cities and towns.

Dutch people, the argument goes, are annoyed when immigrants choose to address each other in their native languages. When in Rome...

There is some sense to the notion that newcomers should learn the local language and customs, but that doesn't necessarily entail adopting them all. One speaks to communicate, not make a political statement. Yes, all residents - to the best of their ability - should attempt to speak Dutch when dealing with official matters or addressing a native-Dutch person.

What should the rule be for an expat? Must you learn Dutch if you are planning to stay here for three months, 12 months, five years?

Most of us have lost count of the number of times we have addressed a person in Dutch, only for them to reply in English.

Okay, we now have the Rotterdam Code and Verdonk's national code is eagerly awaited. We will all soon realise we have common responsibilities - and that we are equal.
The thing is we are not.


It is shameful Verdonk - the minister for Immigration and INTEGRATION - constantly makes the distinction between autochtonen (native Dutch, probably white) and allochtonen (immigrants, foreign residents).

For Verdonk, autochtonen are what we should all aspire to be; it is almost a higher form of being - hardworking, honest, considerate, but frankly tired of being taken advantage of.

Allochtonen, on the other hand, are lesser people, particularly those from "non-western" backgrounds. They have difficulty understanding right from wrong, and Muslims just have their brains wired all wrong.

The Leefbaar Rotterdam party in Rotterdam agrees. And like Verdonk, Leefbaar Rotterdam tries to act tough when faced with a problem. The party used its majority on the municipal council to foist this code on the city. The other major parties just went along for the ride.


Let's look at the Rotterdam Code and how it aims to make Rotterdam a more cohesive society.

Point 1: take responsibility for our city and for each other, and don't discriminate against each other

Nothing wrong here - except Verdonk, Leefbaar Rotterdam and co. think this is a one-way street. Newcomers need to take responsibility and not discriminate. The fact that many native Dutch employers won't hire a person with a Moroccan name isn't important.
Verdonk's answer to discrimination against allochtonen in the workplace? 'They should complain more.' Whom should they complain to as Verdonk doesn't seem particularly interested?

Point 2: use Dutch (Nederlands) as our common language

As a recommendation, it's fine. Verdonk initially wanted to impose the rule like one of God's Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai. The fuss she has caused has probably ruined any chance of success with this one. We need not dwell on the human rights issue – just go to the comment section in Expatica’s opinion poll.

Point 3: don't accept radicalization or extremism

Most of us would agree the type of Islamic extremism that led to the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh is a blight on society. It would be great if everyone would accept this. But how is it possible for the Netherlands to preach human rights and democracy when it wants to send back Mohammed Ramzy, a man acquitted of terrorism, to his native Algeria where he will probably be tortured?

How come the Netherlands and other European countries turned a blind eye to the abduction of people from Europe by the CIA so they could be flown elsewhere for torture?

Point 4: rear our children to be valuable citizens

This assumes the adults - both native Dutch and non-native residents - knows what this means.  Yet, all-in-all, a worthy sentiment.

Points 5, 6, 7:

treat women equally to men, and with respect;
treat gay people equally to heterosexuals and with respect;
treat people of other religions and none equally, and with respect

Absolutely. The next time an imam meets Verdonk he should shake hands with her. A woman should not be called a whore by passers-by in the street because her skirt is deemed to be too short.

In the same way, Dutch companies should stop paying women less for doing the same job as men. It will be interesting to see if Verdonk starts a campaign about that.

Verdonk should treat people with more respect. A person born in the Netherlands or one who holds a Dutch passport is a Dutch citizen and should not be insulted with the term allochtoon. It is only correct to use allochtonen when referring to non-Dutch residents. 
Where do expats fit into all this?

Nowhere, as usual. The minister, who thinks it is OK to take six months to issue a residence permit to people on assignment in the Netherlands, didn't even think of expats when she unveiled her 'language decree'.

Unfortunately, Verdonk is representative of a large and powerful class in Dutch society who sees the world and the Netherlands in black and white - autochtonen and allochtonen.

Perhaps expats suffering at the hands of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service should declare themselves as allochtonen. Then if you have to wait six to nine months for a residence permit, you could claim discrimination under the terms of the Rotterdam code.

God loves a tryer.

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