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.
Blaming immigrants for many ills has become commonplace. Conservative Moroccans and Turks from rural areas are accused of disdaining the liberal Dutch ways and of making little effort to adapt. Immigrant youths now make up half the prison population. More than 40 percent of immigrants receive some form of government assistance, a source of resentment among native Dutch. Immigrants say, though, that they are widely discriminated against.
Ms. Konings said the Dutch themselves brought on some of the social frictions. The Dutch “thought that we had to adapt to the immigrants and that we had to give them handouts,” she said. “We’ve been too lenient; now it’s difficult to turn the tide.”
This phenomenon has been seen before in the United States (and elsewhere, but to a lesser extent), but only on a local level. “White flight” gave birth to suburbia, when affluent city dwellers fled the cities to escape the influx of rural poor brought in by government programs of welfare and subsidized housing. The demographics tended to break along racial lines — white vs black — so the label “white flight” was coined.
But it happens whenever a community or an organization is forced to include “the other”. As an unintended consequence, the backlash can do more harm to “the others” than if things had been left as they were.
There was that great episode of The Simpsons in which the the Stonecutters, a parody of the Freemasons, were forced to include Homer in their ranks. Lisa, the well-meaning busy-body liberal, used Homer’s membership as an “in” to start to alter the fabric of that community. Previously concerned only with drinking beer and playing ping-pong, they now compelled to support social projects, much to their chagrin. Unable to toss Homer out, the entire membership left the organization to Homer and began a new organization whose founding principle was the exclusion of Homer Simpson, whether he followed the rules or not.
Let’s re-write that previous paragraph:
There was that process in the Netherlands in which the people were forced to have unassimilated Muslims as neighbours. The government, made up of well-meaning busy-body liberals, started to alter the fabric of that country. Previously concerned only with Dutch culture, citizens were now compelled to support increased welfare for unemployed and unemployable immigrants, and put up with the associated violence, much to their chagrin. Unable to toss the Muslims out, large numbers of the original population left the country to the Muslims and began new communities whose founding principle was the exclusion of non-Europeans, assimilated or otherwise.
Let’s re-write that previous paragraph yet once more:
There was that process in the Anglican Church in which the people were forced to recognize gay couples as blessed by God and to have practicing gays as clergy and bishops. The Church leadership, made up of well-meaning busy-body liberals, started to alter the fabric of the Church. Previously concerned only with Christian living in line with Scripture, the faithful were now compelled to support lifestyles that would seem to be explicitly condemned by Scripture, both Old and New Testament, much to their chagrin. Unable to toss the gays out, large numbers of the original Anglican congregation began to leave the Anglican Church and began new Protestant denominations whose founding principle was the exclusion of all homosexuals, whether they agreed to live by Christian principles or not.Powered by Sidelines