Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Stealing Van Gogh's Thunder

This morning at 0930 Snouck visited the commemoration of the Assasination of film maker Theo van Gogh. As I wrote yesterday the event was organised by the Amsterdam Townhall and the opposition Labour party. In order to further enhance the standing of the event our "Conservative" Prime Minister Balkenende was invited to speak some words.

Friends and family of Van Gogh were not in anyway consulted by the organisers.

There was a respectable crowd gathered of respectable people. Lots of middle class locals and lots of press including various camera crews. I think there were quite a few people from Theo van Gogh's area, the affluent and white Watergraafsmeer, on the other side of the railroad track.

Commemorations or ceremonies in The Netherlands are almost always carried out with a minimum of aplomp, style or dramatic content. So I was not expecting much. I was to be surprised. There was a lady with two noisy young kids but otherwise the crowd was well behaved.

Then there was a tattoo drummed. Military style. I could not see the drummer but he was alone. The drum solo lasted a minute or longer and created an mood of hushed expectation. It even shut the brats shut up.

Then the local council head (Amsterdam is divided in 16 little councils, which administrate 16 little "council areas") spoke a few minutes. He mentioned a local woman who told someone off who denounced her for wearing a islamic veil. The speech was well-delivered. Prime Minister Balkenende was next. Again a strongly pronounced well delivered speech. What is going on here? Then a local mother spoke who had been bringing her children to the school just 15 meters around the corner from the spot where Van Gogh was cut up after having been shot repeatedly. She was very, emotional and on the verge of tears. Something she said piqued my interest. She had been talking to local Muslim women while making a documentary about the aftermath of the assasination. Then she criticised politicians and opinion makers who had been very hardline in there pronunciations in the months after the attack. She demanded that these people would tone down, would limit their speech in the name of her children who were growing up in an environment of threats and increasing mutual recriminations.

Then finally Job Cohen spoke, the mayor of Amsterdam the man who is appointed to "keep things together" (The Netherlands is the only country in Europe where mayors are appointed and not elected). And he told the crowd that had gathered that "we" should all come together and stop deviding into ethnic crowds who only work towards their narrow self interest. Which is something that is happening of course.

"Si monumentum requiris circumspice". He who requires a monument, let him look around. The crowd that Cohen addressed was 99 percent white, mostly middle class. I counted five blacks, two among the policemen, two among the camera crews, two in the crowd. And zero, zilch, nada Muselmen showing their solidarity with the martyr of freedom of speech.

Looking at the crowd reveals the truth, the awkward reality that the words of political speechmakers and the carefully selected mother/documentary maker were trying to hide. The reality is that a multicultural society is not a society at all. It is a alligator pond of warring ethno-cultural societies each with their own temples, martyrs, totempoles, media and holy books.

And the Dutch martyr for freedom of speech is being turned into a martyr for controlled speech.
The local councillor only mentioned hatred against a Muslim woman
The mother/documentarist pleaded for controlled speach in the name of her children
The Prime Minister only mentioned that "we should not let each other go" and should not practise hate and extremism, which are basically codewords for white ethnic solidarity.
The Mayor said that we should look further than our own groups collective interest, but that is only meant for whites.

Theo van Gogh would have written a great column on this event.

No comments: