Sunday, May 15, 2005

Go Dutch or go elsewhere

During the recent election campaign, I was rather perturbed by the Tory posters which all contained the statement: "Are you thinking what we're thinking?". It was meant to show that the Conservative party was in touch with voters concerns. It might have been better suited to describe the new Dutch immigration campaign.

Yesterday's Daily Telegraph has reported that the Dutch are to introduce new measures to ensure that new immigrants integrate (or should I say conform) with Dutch society.
From July, would-be newcomers over 17 will have to pass examinations requiring a basic knowledge of the language, history and culture of Holland. Those from within the European Union are exempt.

In preparation, immigrants must watch a video showing not only windmills, tulips and ancient cities, but also homosexual weddings and examples of Holland's liberal mores and tolerance of drugs.

The video is so liberal that a "clean" version has been produced for Islamic countries with the scenes of two homosexual bridegrooms kissing and a topless beach excised.

Those of you living in the UK may remember the Harry Enfield sketch with the two Dutch gay policemen, Ronald and Stefan. In one scene they describe coming across some elderly people who are offended by a gay orgy, their solution is to encourage the elderly people to join in.

Holland can sometimes seem a parody of itself, except the reality is less funny. Dutch liberalism and creeping Sharia may not make for easy bedfellows, but there's nothing "liberal" about making people watch videos of topless beaches and gay weddings. The Dutch may find it's not only the Muslim immigrants they're scaring away.

Holland has every right to demand it's immigrants respect the rule of law, but forcing immigrants to embrace ideas they don't agree with contradicts the very principles that Holland claims to stand for. Dutch values were always something of a contradiction. Where they once tolerated those with no respect for democracy, they are now intolerant of anyone who merely thinks differently.

Imagine immigrants being excluded from the UK because they were opposed to the Labour party's reform of the health service. Or immigrants being turned away from the US because they supported abortion.

Freedom of speech or for that matter freedom of thought presumes the right to be wrong. I can't tell other people how to lead their life, but if I don't agree with same-sex marriage, I have the right to say so. But increasingly, in both in Holland and the rest of Europe, I don't. Witness the Rocco Buttiglione affair, where the candidate for the European Union's commissioner for Justice had to withdraw his candidacy. Whilst few doubted his ability to enforce European law, his private views on homosexuality did not sit comfortably with other members of the European Commission.

It goes a long-way to explain what's wrong with Dutch and for that matter European liberalism. American values thrive because it's a society where same-sex couples co-exist with anti-abortionists. European values in contrast are about tolerating one attitude over the other. Whilst going the extra mile to reconcile same-sex marriage with Islamic jihadists, Europe's political elite has rather more difficulty accommodating all the other shades of opinion in between.