UPDATE: My Dutch is weak, but it appears the business owner that created a week-long stir by advertising for “white-only” workers did it as a stunt to draw attention to discrimination in the Netherlands. Here is a story, in Dutch, that says that … I think. I would like to thank our many Dutch readers for pointing this out to me.
ORIGINAL COLUMN …
As any European will happily tell you, the U.S. is culturally backwards and wrong about most everything, including healthcare, military spending, global politics and, most especially, race relations.
I was once asked “Why is everyone here so racist?” by a young Russian woman who had emigrated to America to marry a retired Georgian with a riding lawn mower.
My answer then: Racism occurs everywhere, unfortunately, but Americans talk about discrimination more openly.
People in the Netherlands (aka Holland) seem to be headed in the opposite direction of tolerance.
The Christian Science Monitor reports a company there is advertising it will only hire white workers.
“I don’t discriminate,” said de Laat. “I just don’t invite them for interview. Poles, Moroccans, any non-whites, are not going to be hired to work for this company. Achmed and Ali are probably very good people, but I don’t want them working for me.
De Laat says he is only being honest with job candidates.
“Other companies are hypocrites. They tell non-white candidates they don’t fit within ‘the company profile’. At least I tell them straight up. People of colour need not apply – even if they have Dutch passports.”
Budget Cleaning, which only has nine full-time employees, even refuses non-white customers.
The small company is not alone in its hiring practices.
Recently, the Dutch Human Rights Council reported “explosive growth” in complaints of discrimination – it was up 75 per cent from 2012 to 2013. Half the complaints were work-related. “Exclusion takes place at entry level to the labor market. Companies are refusing to accept people on work experience, for example, because of their skin color or because they wear headscarves,” the report said.
The Dutch Human Rights Council says discrimination is not necessarily on the rise, but the nature of discrimination is changing. “It’s becoming more visible, and people are being more open about it,” said Marysha Molthoff.
Mrs. Molthoff must be new, or she’s somehow missed the annual Dutch Christmas tradition of“Black Pete,” Santa’s little slave helper in blackface.
According to a 2013 survey, 92 percent of Dutch don’t perceive Black Pete as racist and 91 percent are opposed to altering the character’s appearance.
It’s not just Dutch employers embracing racism. The anti-immigrant Freedom Party has been consistently topping the polls in the Netherlands and its leader, Geert Wilders, leads racist chants at political rallies.
Wilders, who may soon be charged with “incitement to hatred” for the second time, recently asked a crowd of supporters, “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?”
“Fewer, fewer, fewer,” the Dutch crowd chanted.
“Then we’re going to organize it,” promised Wilders, whose party is expected to take control of Parliament after May elections.
My history may be off, but isn’t popular support of racism what gave the world Nazis and apartheid?
Read more of George Mathis's take on news headlines.