Exclusion and neglect

As the world turns and days accumulate to weeks, there are various topics a weblogger might want to comment on. Why bother ? Let me mention some topics.

Frits Bolkestein (1933), former EU commissioner for the internal market 1999-2004, has changed his mind. He now advises that Northern Europe leaves the euro and creates its own new currency. In the past in Dutch parliament he voted for monetary union but now he accepts its failure. He accepts that leaving the euro will come at a large cost for the North, since claims in euro will quickly lose value. Perhaps to Bolkestein’s surprise, his article on leaving the euro did not cause headlines all over Europe and was pretty much neglected. It was also neglected by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, of the same party VVD (i.e. People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy).

Johannes Witteveen (1921), former IMF managing director 1973-1978, severely criticised the same Mark Rutte for lack of understanding of economics. Witteveen also criticised Jeroen Dijsselbloem that his background as an agricultural economist could cause a deficiency in understanding of macro-economics. Witteveen presented a proposal for less cutbacks, more investments and reduction of the Dutch surplus on the external account. Witteveen got a long interview in a rather prominent Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland (VN), with the quote in the title: “Rutte does not understand it.” Witteveen also explains that he is sidetracked in internal discussions in the same VVD party.

The VVD claims to be a conservative-liberal party but apparently has problems tolerating dissenting voices. One supposes that Bolkestein is not really surprised by this, as he neglected the arguments against the euro in the past too. “We had to follow Helmut Kohl and his Germany,” he argues now, but this is obviously false. The real lesson for Bolkestein would be that he should focus on how other voices get excluded and neglected. This might be hard for a man of 80 years – though he showed the flexibility to change his mind.

The Dutch musea published a report on art that may have been robbed during World War II 1940-1945. We may be surprised that they manage to do this already after 65 years and that they don’t wait a full century. The website contains pictures and some of the paintings are quite beautiful. The following has been taken from there, and presents a man in a yellow cloth, painted by Jan Sluijters in 1914. The title of the painting describes the man as a “negro” which is latin for “black” but nowadays we would regard this as an excluding stereotype. If the painting has been robbed from your family by the nazis then you should contact that website.

Jan Sluijters, 1914, "Neger met gele lendedoek" (Source www.musealeverwervingen.nl)

Jan Sluijters, 1914, “Neger met gele lendedoek” (Source http://www.musealeverwervingen.nl)

A major issue of exclusion and neglect in Dutch society occurred this last October on the topic of Santa Claus. The American Santa is helped by elves and reindeer, but in Holland by black human helpers and his white horse. This human helper is called Black Pete, made up with shoe polish, and dressed in medieval Spanish attire. Tonny van Renterghem (1919) explained in his book When Santa was a Shaman that the figure has prehistorical origins. Dutch Santa riding his horse on the roof tops is just Wodan riding his horse in the skies. When the sun appears to die in December, Santa fights the demons of darkness, and restores life. Black Pete is that German demon of darkness, transformed by Christian faith into a moorish helper. Another transformation of Santa is Father Time, and even Jesus Christ himself. Still, many Dutch immigrants from Suriname and the Dutch Antilles have little affinity with German prehistory. Black Pete reminds them of the period of slavery. This October showed a vehement discussion in Dutch media about whether to adjust our most cherished national celebration. Even the United Nations stepped in to develop some kind of opinion.


Tonny van Renterghem, When Santa was a Shaman (Source: amazon.com)

Earlier I wrote about the singer Anouk. She was okay with saying goodbye to Black Pete and then her facebook page exploded with racist comments denouncing her. It shows that there is an issue.

In 1992 at a Science Fiction & Fantasy convention, I read a story on Kidda Claus and Kidda Claudia and their Silly Petes, Renaming and rebranding the celebration figures resolves above problem. Holland has a solution available since 1992 but has been excluding and neglecting it. The PDF has been on my website for years but since 2012 there is a small booklet. The issue has international relevance, since the Dutch celebration of Kinderklaas (Kidda Claus) is much more fun than the American version. In Holland you give surprise presents and write verses that can mock your dearest ones, which is quite different from the American approach to give ever more expensive presents only.

Speaking about Kinderklaas’s horse, we ought to note that Bonfire (1983-2013) passed away yesterday. Salute ! This weblog is mainly about economics and politics but likes art, singers and horses. Anky van Grunsven’s website is clear about the euthanasia. Bonfire is lucky to be a horse and not an excluded and neglected mere human.

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