The process of altering the fabric of a community against the will of its members will often result in a mass exodus of the original membership, with the resulting destruction of that community and a backlash against those who altered it. We've seen it before, we're seeing it now, and we'll be seeing it again in the future.
There is more than the concern about the rising complications of absorbing newcomers, now one-tenth of the population, many of them from largely Muslim countries. Many Dutch also seem bewildered that their country, run for decades on a cozy, political consensus, now seems so tense and prickly and bent on confrontation.
Some have decided to move, but not too far:
Sandy Sangen has applied to move to Norway with her husband and two school-age children. They want to buy a farm in what she calls "a safer, more peaceful place."
Other have decided to chuck the whole Euro-socialist dream altogether:
Those leaving have been mostly lured by large English-speaking nations like Australia, New Zealand and Canada, where they say they hope to feel less constricted.
Ruud Konings, an accountant, has just sold his comfortable home in the small town of Hilvarenbeek. In March, after a year's worth of paperwork, the family will leave for Australia. The couple said the main reason was their fear for the welfare and security of their two teenage children.
"When I grew up, this place was spontaneous and free, but my kids cannot safely cycle home at night," said Mr. Konings, 49. "My son just had his fifth bicycle stolen." At school, his children and their friends feel uneasy, he added. "They're afraid of being roughed up by the gangs of foreign kids."
Who do they blame for this? Refreshingly, they realize that there is blame to go around:
Like the Sangens and Koningses, others who are moving speak of their yearning for the open spaces, the clean air, the easygoing civility they feel they have lost. Complaints include overcrowding, endless traffic jams, overregulation. Some cite a rise in antisocial behavior and a worrying new toughness and aggression both in political debates and on the streets.