The Netherlands – another election coming?

The promise of a quickly formed government by leading Dutch party figures has most certainly failed from birth.   The beginning of July figure has passed us by and we are now into the fourth negotiator.  

The demand for a coalition from the right of politics dies because of Wilders’ bigoted and ugly demands, a “Purple Coalition” even more so fails as Labour and others will have nothing to do with the racist anti-Islam party.   A minority of left and centrist parties seems to be ignored because they are a minority and had screwed-up Holland’s economy and social welfare system in the past.   The Netherlands opportunity for creating a government now is stuck in a quagmire of its’ own making – a combination of an antiquated and flawed electoral system that allows one-man political parties and encourages coalitions; and the previous governments failing the people in social and economic areas that when unheeded breeds radicalization.

It is simply time to admit the people screwed-up, fell for well worded ugly propoganda and broke the traditional mold of voting serious in national elections and protests in local ones.  Had the Dutch people understood that in the current electoral system, giving a mad-man and wannabe Jorg Haider around 13 per cent of the vote will cause this mess – they would most certainly change their votes.  

The possibilities of forming a government appear to be zero and the greatest of errors now would be the feeling that they are obliged to form one with what they have regardless, is scary to say the least.  

Last Sunday (25 July 2010) Robin Pascoe wrote in the Opinion section of DutchNews.nl a very well worded item called “Talking about talks may not get us anywhere“.     He correctly says that:

CDA leader Maxime Verhagen has made it quite clear that a number of elements in the PVV’s manifesto are non-negotiable.

A ban on immigration from Islamic countries, the closure of all Islamic schools, a ban on the Koran and the introduction of a tax on headscarves… none of these are ever going to become a reality in a cabinet involving the CDA.

Nor is a foreign policy based on combating Islam. The Dutch will not start calling Jordan Palestine.

On radio this weekend, senior VVD member of parliament Frans Weisglas (an old friend of mine) called on his leader Marke Rutte to stay clear of Geert Wilders and the PVV stating that ‘I do not think a Liberal party like mine, the VVD, should work together with a party which systematically discriminates against an entire part of the population’.

Equally, in the Financieele Dagblad, Arie Oostlander and Bert de Vries, leading figures of the CDA called forming alliances with Wilders as a recipe for “hiking up opposition rather than bridging tensions”.  Additionally, Oostlander stated that Wilders would not sit quietly in a minority government and play every moment to his advantage.  He called Wilders “far to slippery”.

According to Pascoe, the only real commonality between the potential coalition of VVD and the PVV is that “both the VVD and PVV are opposed to any tax increases – or passing the cost of reducing the budget deficit onto the man in the street” and then raises the very understandable question about how could they achieve it when the rest of the manifestos are so different (let alone the PVV platform is not based on workable experience).

I reported just after the election that exit polls and then another a day after hinted that if they knew what the results were, the population probably would have given Labour a workable majority.   As a former PVV party member and city Councillor for them, that pains me but nevertheless consider that a better option.   I wonder what a new election would produce now?

Time to find out I think.

Dove World Outreach Center – Radical Christian Hate Mongers

The Dove World Outreach Center is not new to controversy, they have been active for years issuing “Islam is of the Devil”  T-Shirts, condemning homosexuality with near violence, condemning basically anything or anyone that disagrees with them, to put it simply – nothing really “dove” like at all.

They now plan on September 11 to burn copies of the Muslim Koran in stark defiance to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) whom said in a statement:

“The NAE calls on its members to cultivate relationships of trust and respect with our neighbors of other faiths. God created human beings in his image, and therefore all should be treated with dignity and respect”

The leader of Dove World Outreach Center is Pastor Dr Terry Jones, author of “Islam is of the Devil“, a hate-for-profit book that simply claims examples of historical events as some form of devilish proof (and conveniently ignoring the equally ugly history of Christianity) and then tying it to literal and fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible.   It is ironic that much, if not most, of Islam’s problems is with equally ugly individuals taking religious texts in a literal and fundamentalists manner.  He blames Islam for 9/11……

If we try to consider the logic behind such an ugly and frankly un-Christian excercise, we can only come to a number of conclusions.

a) He and his wife (why is it always the most successful fruitcake profiteering Evangelists are a husband & wife combo?) are seeking controversy to catch dollars because it sells so well.  

b) They are truly radical fundamentalists and simply blinded.

Why I think it is the former and not the latter is because of the book by Jones.  We must assume that he had to do some research to write a book and then in that case he knows his work is a lie.  He follows the baseless lines that other hate-for-profiteers do by noting the acts of (other) radicals and extremists and then assuming that all Muslims are as such.  Alternatively, following the Spencer-farce by pushing that the radical Islamists are obviously real Muslims and the rest are heretics.    Jones may very well have written his book from inside his closet and based all of his work on guess works and from questionable bloggers like Spencer, either way even the most closed mind that bothers to look at the world knows it is pure rubbish.

I personally do not care if a group of obviously blinded radical evangelists with a lack of knowledge and facts burns books, though it is ugly and hurtful to the Muslims, but what it most certainly will do is be used as proof by the just-as-ugly radical Islamists as proof that Christian America is on a Crusade to wage war on Islam and thus they must do the same.

Thanks Dr Jones, you have done everything to make sure the division stays and gets worse.

Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam

I wonder what the much more famous and respectable Terry Jones would think about this person, considering he directed The Life of Brian and the best of the very sacriligeous Monty Python sketches, including the “not the Spanish Inquisition” skits.

Question for Debate: When does religious views cross the line?

I read in DutchNews.nl today an item called “Bible Belt says no to football on Sunday, whatever the occasion” which at first I thought was just “a bit funny” and then started wondering.  

As it is not a long item so I will quote it in full, with full acknowledgement and respect to DutchNews.nl.

Friday 09 July 2010

The Netherlands may be on the brink of its first football World Cup title, but in some parts of the Dutch Bible Belt, watching tv on a Sunday is totally forbidden, the Telegraaf points out on Friday.

And Kees van der Staaij, leader of the fundamentalist Protestant party SGP is one of those who will not be following events in South Africa.

‘Absolutely not,’ a spokesman told the Telegraaf. ‘He may watch television occasionally for work but never to relax and absolutely not on Sunday.’

In the village of Urk, which has 20 plus churches for its population of 17,000, three cafes have aroused the ire of religious leaders for deciding to open their doors during the match.

But in the Bible Belt heartland of Staphorst people who actually have a tv will watch quietly at home, a town council spokeswoman said. ‘Someone might run outside with a tooter, but they will go back in again straight away’.

In the village of Elburg the local minister has prayed for Oranje to lose. He has even advised parents to put a filter on their children’s computers so they do not watch such a ‘sinful’ match. © DutchNews.nl

What does this item tell us?    For me, many things.  I dislike the SGP for many reasons, that they want to ban women from any public office being amongst them.   Having said that, the right to religious belief is a fundamental principle that I share with my country and consider that sacred.  The question does comes at what point does a faith that control the lives of its followers cross over the line of the rules, standards and morals of the country as a whole.  Also when does those followers start impacting on those that disagree with that faith’s standards?  History, recent past and even the present has endless examples of what that causes around our now very small planet.

We all know the grave problem of how radical Islamism forces not only other Muslims to follow a certain line, but how it also makes unwarranted and unjustified demands on western societies that these radicals are present in.  That radicalism is not only subject of media attention, albeit much real and some often exaggerated, but it is also used and abused by other radicals to fulfill their own ugly agendas.  My blog is full of such examples.   Nevertheless, if radical Islamists are willing to go that far, what about Christian Fundamentalist groupings like that which the SGP represent –  will they go that far if they are able to get away with it?

That is the question that I wish readers to consider.   What would happen say if the SGP took the second largest number of voters or the largest?    They would demand women not be allowed to take public office, that is a clear agenda platform – even though that would require a constitutional alteration.   Would they forbid football on Sundays?  Would they force Christian teachings in Government Schools?  Would they limit or ban non-Christian schools?   Limit the growth, sponsorship and funding of non-Christian organisations that are involved in serious community work?

What is the limit when a community thinks something is sinful and requires actions?    My concern is that groups like the SGP will, as a result of economic and social issues, become more radicalized with the extreme members having more influence in policy.  That they will grow like the PVV (or perhaps take some of the PVV votes as and when that ugly abomination collapses) and that their numbers will grow to a significant level to create a lobby group with just enough clout to make trouble.   What will happen, I fear, is that they will have enough influence to have a say, a hearing of sorts, but because their principles are a “matter of faith” and a “matter of God’s Will in their batle against what they call sin”, that they will feel OBLIGED to take matters into their own hands.

The subject in that item might seem to be about football, but it raises a very interesting question.  Though tolerance, human rights and freedom of expression are the normal accepted standards of my country, our history has often shown otherwise.  In our more recent past a siginficant enough number of my country along with a number of others, sided with Hitler and embraced even Nazism.  Further back it should never be forgotten that the apartheid movement, organized racism and much of European’s ugly history in Africa stemmed directly from the guidence and followers of the Dutch Reformed Church.

What do you think?

Wilders – Out of Coalition Talks as a Threat to Democracy

Dutch media has been reporting that Wilders will not be a part of any government coalition, mostly due to the simple fact that Wilders is a threat to democracy and is unwilling to “change his ways”.

According to the Volkskrant, during a parliamentary debate on progress made towards creating a new cabinet after the June 9 general election on Tuesday night, Rutte asked Wilders seven times to join him. Wilders was asked by several party leaders during the debate to answer the point about democracy made by CDA leader Maxime Verhagen but he declined to comment the Financieele Dagblad explained and quoted Verhagen as saying that they will not join the VVD and PVV because of the potential threat to democracy.

Labour leader Job Cohen said during the debate that Wilders’ refusal to talk means the door has now been firmly closed on a right-wing cabinet.

Welcome to Blootstellen

Blootstellen in my language means “exposure” and it is a big part of what this blog is about.   I have a huge dislike for radicalism in all its forms and in the present polarized world we live in – radicalism flourishes – everywhere.  I simply wish to expose it, discuss it and debate it.  That is what this blog is about.

When we hear the word radical we think mostly of politics and religion and that in most instances is correct.  Often we in the west also assume that radicalism is harmless and fringe and that only outside the west does it dominate life.  In most cases that is also correct, but not always.  Memories are short and in today’s media and internet-dominated society, even small fringe radical groups with a budget and a clever blog supporter group not only gets a larger than deserved hearing but they can distract, muddle and confuse issues that are really important.  They can also add fuel to the fire and in some cases become the excuses and justification for the actions of those radicals that they target.

In this blog I will attempt to vent some opinions, expose examples of bloggers who willingly or without knowing it are pawns of real radical low-lifes and to give some examples of radicalism at its worst.

I am not interested in self-gratification or making something of a name for myself in fact I was not planning to make a blog at all.    Most certainly, I am not the topic of this blog but I do have experiences both professional and personal that are relevant and having lived and worked in many places prudent to this topic – it will come out.   

Included in my definition of radicalism, and thus a part of this blog will be racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, islamophobes, fascists and self-claimed anti-jihadists.  I also place in the  same radical title radical muslim groups, genuine political-islam, anti-integrationist “euro-muslims”, fundamentalist evangelical christians, hard-line Zionists and  ultra-orthodox jews, neo-nazis and white supremacists.  I have no issues with political sidings, race, faith, colour or preferences – in fact that is the colours that make up this world – I do have issue when one of these groups either imposes their views on others or unjustly attacks others for the sole purpose of selling their own as the only alternative.

My own choices, preferences and faith is exactly that – my own.  I am of the centre-right of politics, I support common-sense conservative values but allow space for change when change is needed, not because it is possible as often many on the left like to do.  My agnosticism yet strong belief in God is a personal thing and though I support religious structure, so far I have found little but self-absorbing or closed-in organizations keen on nothing but control over its followers and hiding errors rather than repairing them.

So beware those with a radical view, even if your goal is to target an obvious danger and evil – fighting one evil with another has and never will work.  If you fight something radical, remember that the opposite of radicalism is normality and thus it is only with normality as the focus and the tool that you can fight it.

You will hear from me many times over  two phrases that I consider important and reflective of my views.  The first is “that two wrongs never make a right” and that radicalism in religion is summed up as “a willingness to alter their faith to suit their politics and not the other way around”.   Understand these two points and you understand me completely.

Grootjes

Donny van den Helm

Rotterdam