by Hugh Fitzgerald (July 2006)
The Dutch government has decided that immigrants, by which is meant mainly Muslim immigrants, should have made available to them government-sponsored courses in the Dutch language, Dutch history, Dutch culture. And with those courses on offer, there will be new requirements. Immigrants will be required, within a very generous five years, to demonstrate a minimal knowledge of that language, that history, that culture. It is an act born of hope and despair. The hope is that these Muslim immigrants will, in learning these subjects, not simply be thereby better able to manipulate Dutch infidels, to make demands and to subvert the laws, customs, understandings of local Infidels using tools provided by those same Infidels, but will, instead, come to appreciate that Dutch society, (as Ayaan Hirsi Ali so clearly did), and instead of wishing to Islamize the locals or to have Islam dominate the Dutch, will themselves be in fact so transformed by this new knowledge, having acquired a knowledge of, and therefore deep appreciation for, Dutch freedoms, Dutch individualism, Dutch laws and understandings, Dutch thought and Dutch art, that they will not only profess loyalty to the Netherlands, but when they profess it, mean it.
To date Muslims in Holland, as elsewhere in Western Europe, have not demonstrated such loyalty or a desire to integrate through the acceptance of certain basic understandings. Instead, the younger generations of Muslim immigrants seem filled with fervor that increases rather than diminishes, and have created a situation that is unpleasant, expensive, and dangerous for Infidels in all of the countries of what Muslims call Dar al-Harb (the Domain of War) or the Bilad al-kufr (the Land of Infidelity, or Lands of the Infidels). They are taught to despise Infidels, to express hostility toward them, even at times to “cut off the heads” of the Unbelievers.This kind of sentiment, repeated so often in the Qur’an and the Hadith, has its effect.
The despair of the Dutch government is shared by the governments of other Infidel countries in Western Europe. They do not know quite what to do. Like other Western governments that of the Netherlands appears to believe that it simply has no choice, but cannot expel – why not? on what peculiar theory? – those who remain adherents of a belief-system that uncompromisingly divides the world between Believers and Infidels, and tells Believers that it is their duty to strive for the day when all parts of the world have removed all obstacles to the spread and dominance of Islam, so that the entire world will become part of Dar al-Islam. And the despair is felt most by those who have taken the time to thoroughly investigate the nature of Islam, not only the contents of Qur’an and Hadith, not only the example of Muhammad and the implications for Infidels of that example, but also to study the history, over the past 1350 years, of Muslim Jihad-conquest, and Muslim subjugation of many different non-Muslim peoples, all of whom suffered under Muslim rule in ways that one would, if one did not know about Islam, and the conception of the “tolerated” non-Muslim, the dhimmi, and his legal status, would be regarded as amazingly, rather than unsurprisingly, similar.
Whether they belong to the party of those Infidels who think the truth about the belief-system of Islam should be stated, or to the party of those who think one should avoid stating the truth, for fear of making that grim truth even truer, Europeans recognize that the belief-system of the millions of Muslims permitted into their midst poses an unprecedented and unique problem. For Islam is not quite like any other undeclared mental baggage brought by any other kind of immigrant. Dimly, or brightly, Europeans are beginning to understand that this business of a strict division in the world between Believer and Unbeliever, Muslim and Infidel. Muslims are taught, is taken to heart and is not theoretical. It is vividly alive for most of the world’s Muslims, no matter where they may be. T he Qur’an instructs them “not to take Jews or Christians as friends, for they are friends only with each other” and Muslims are taught never to participate in, nor to recognizae, the religious holidays of others. They are told to obey only those Infidel laws, in the Infidel countries they happen to live in, that Muslim scholars tell them do not conflict with Islam. They are taught that, as always, their sole loyalty must be to the Umma, the Community of Believers. Islam is a collective faith; it has no time for individualism or the individual. Muslims determined to carry on campaigns of Da’wa among vulnerable and carefully targeted groups of Infidels, ordinarily the psychically or economically marginal, are not trying to save souls so much as they are attempting to gather recruits for the army of Islam. And once recruited, those new soldiers are never allowed to leave Islam – or if they try to, they will be punished as deserters.
Muslims are taught that they are the best of people; that non-Muslims ideally should be subjugated to them; that the lands of the world’s peoples belong to Allah and to the Believers, and that in the end the entire world will, in fact, belong to them. They are taught to regard with contempt non-Believers, and the legal status of “dhimmi” that is imposed on non-Muslims (should they manage to be considered as “protected peoples”—which is only guaranteed to Christians and Jews as “ahl al-kitab” or “People of the Book”) is so onerous that over time many, to escape its burden, converted to Islam.
Holland needs to toughen its test for those wishing to become citizens of Holland. It should not be some multiple-choice farce, but so constructed as to constitute a serious inquiry into the mental makeup of the takeover. . To halt the tide of Muslim immigration that is now flooding not only low-lying Holland, but all member states of the European Community, more than a finger in the crumbling polder-dike of present immigration laws will be needed. The testing of would-be immigrants for Holland should make them no longer regard the country they have landed in as just one more part of the Bilad al-kufr, the Land of Infidelity or of the Infidels, an incidental variant on the them of the Kuffar. Those in England must learn all about England, those in France all about France, and those in Holland, all about Holland.
An immigrant must want to come to the Netherlands, for more than the free medical care, free education, free or subsidized housing and generous living allowances that Muslims all over Europe have become masters at exploiting beyond anything the creators of these welfare states ever contemplated. He must not merely be seeking an initial foothold to which he can be admitted, so that subsequently all of Europe will be open to him – to find the best way to be supported, and to work to undermine the very peoples and societies whose generosity he is exploiting for aims that those peoples and societies are only now beginning to comprehend.
It is a great privilege for someone from the world of Islam, a world that denies many forms of artistic expression, that discourages at every step free and skeptical inquiry by the Believers, that limits the freedoms of women, that encourages Believers to treat non-Muslims under Muslim rule at best as “dhimmis,” that is those non-Muslims subject to carefully constructed legal system, whereby all kinds of disabilities are inflicted on those dhimmis, the sum of which is a status of humiliation, degradation, and permanent physical insecurity. Mere geographic presence in Holland does not make one Dutch, and it certainly does not allow one to both inherit the legacy of a thousand years or more of Dutch history, and then to attempt to change, to mutilate, that very legacy, as one inferior to the only legacy that counts: that of Islam. .
The government of the Netherlands might wish to consider suggestions from outside. As a well-wisher, who prefers to keep Miep Gies in mind, or the retiring Professor van der Horst, rather than Menten or the wife of Wim Duisenberg, I have prepared a test that might fit the bill.
Here it is:
1) List five achievements of the Dutch East India Company from the time of its founding in 1602.
2) In appraising Dutch rule in the East Indies during the period 1880-1940, what acts of the Dutch were most deserving of praise, and what most deserving of blame?
3) When Jews expelled from Spain came to Amsterdam after 1492, many came and settled in Amsterdam. Why were they made welcome? How did this minority, quite foreign in many ways to the Dutch in language and culture, contribute in succeeding centuries to Dutch life? If you wish, you may concentrate on the figure of Spinoza and his role in the Enlightenment.
4) Who was Anne Frank, and why is the house in which she and others hid during World War II visited by people from all over the world? What is the historical significance of Anne Frank? Who was Menten, and what is his historical significance?
5) This question counts for one-third of the total grade on the entire examination.. So think carefully about its full significance before answering. Discuss three of the ten paintings listed below. Choose the painting that you find most appealing and the one you find least appealing and discuss your reasons for those choices:
a) Jan Vermeer's Woman With a Turban
b) Rembrandt's The Jewish Bride
c) Lucas van Leyden, The Last Judgment
d) Gerrit Dou, Young Woman Dressing
e) Henrick Avercamp, Winter Scene on a Canal
f) Geertgen tot Sint jans, The Assumption of the Virgin
g) Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights OR The Marriage Feast at Cana
h) Frans Hals, The Merry Drinker
i) Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait
6) Describe the part of the terraqueous globe most closely associated with each of the following:
a) Henry Hudson
b) Abel Jansz Tasman
c) Willem Barents
7) Describe briefly the significance of any three of the buildings listed below:
a) Pieterskerk in Utrecht
b) Grote Kerk in Breda
c) Mauritshuis in The Hague
d) Rembrandtshuis in Amsterdam
e) Erasmushuis in Rotterdam
f) Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam
g) Beguin Convent in Amsterdam
9) Among the famous foreigners who came to Holland seeking refuge were John Locke, Descartes, and Pierre Bayle. Choose any one of the three, discuss his significance, and explain why that person sought such refuge, and whether he found in Holland what he sought?
10) What was the effect on Holland of:
a) The Treaty of Utrecht
b) The Peace of Munster
c) The Treaty of Breda
c) The Maastricht Treaty
That's ten; there are two score more. Ten of those questions will be devoted to short but representative passages from Dutch intellectual history. The original Latin of some of the writers chosen – Erasmus, Grotius, Spinoza – will have been translated into Dutch. Ten more questions will be devoted to Dutch literature, and will range chronologically from Jacob Cats to Cees Nooteboom and Harry Mulisch. And a final twenty will be devoted to the most important text in Dutch history, the one which informs so much of its artistic and philosophical legacy. That text, or those texts, consist of the Old and New Testaments. Familiarity with the Bible stories without which no one can enter, say, the Rijksmuseum, and comprehend much of its contents, or without which so much of Dutch literature and history remains a puzzlement, will be essential for all those who will wish to partake of the civilizational legacy which the Dutch are generously inviting non-Dutch to share.
Extra credit? Well, we’ll give that a little thought. Possibly a paper, written outside of the examination room, on Pieter Geyl’s essays on historiography, or a paper on Huizinga’s “Homo ludens.” Yes, an essay on the spirit of “Homo ludens” will do nicely.
It won’t be an easy examination. But it shouldn’t be. Think of all the people who labored and invented and painted and wrote political tracts or a tractatus theologicus, and established joint-stock companies, and went exploring in distant lands austral and septentrional, from Van Dieman’s Land to Hudson’s Bay, and even from time to time went to war from time to time, all of which went into making the Dutch, the Dutch.
Standards will be high. The task of reading and judging examination answers should come to be regarded as among the most solemn duties for the citizens of Holland – that is, the indigenous Infidels who wish to keep Holland Holland. That is as it should be. No one has a right to complain, least of all those who come from societies far more violent, primitive, and collectivist than that offered to them, practically on a platter, by the people of The Netherlands, whose country it is. Obtaining Dutch citizenship, after all, is a very high privilege indeed. It can, and should, be made available only to the deserving – the deserving few.
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