Wither the Netherlands? I'm not surprised but I am a bit appalled at how little coverage the events in the Netherlands since the brutal murder of Theo von Gogh have received. The past week has seen arson and vandalism directed at both churches and mosques, infighting within the government and a crackdown that has already led to raids on terrorist cells and training camps within the Netherlands. It seems clear that opinion is shifting dramatically in the most tolerant country in Europe, and that is a very big deal.
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Unlike some, I'm not surprised that the Dutch are cracking down. The Dutch are renowned for their tolerance, but that tolerance is actually a manifestation of a virtue they truly cherish: practicality
The Dutch tolerate pot and prostitution (and all manner of things) because they've judged that the consequences of doing so are less bad than the consequences of attempting to eliminate them. In essence, tolerance is a policy decision, not a first principle.
The murder of Theo von Gogh and its aftermath raises serious questions about the practicality of tolerating fundamentally antagonistic elements of society. If the Dutch decide that intolerance is more practical in this case, they will move decisively to neutralize the threat. I hope they'd be as decent as possible about it, of course, but appeals to tolerance as a principle will fall on deaf ears.
Consensus is also very important and takes time to achieve. But if the scales of opinion continue to tip in the direction they appear to be heading right now, some very dramatic changes in Dutch domestic and foreign policy just might be on the horizon. For better or for worse.
:: Erik | 11/12/2004 10:21:00 PM | | ::