November 19, 2004


Tolerant Dutch Wrestle With Tolerating Intolerance (BRUCE BAWER, 11/14/04, NY Times)

Three days after Mr. van Gogh's murder, I traveled to Amsterdam to see for myself how things were going. It seemed a long time since 1999, when I lived in a largely Muslim neighborhood of Amsterdam only a block from the mosque attended by the man accused in Mr. van Gogh's murder. During my time there, I quickly came to see that the city (and, I later recognized, Western Europe generally) was a house divided against itself.

The division was stark: The Dutch had the world's most tolerant, open-minded society, with full sexual equality and same-sex marriage, as well as liberal policies on soft drugs and prostitution; but a large segment of the fast-growing Muslim population kept that society at arm's length, despising its freedoms.

Instead of addressing this issue, Dutch officials (like their counterparts across the continent) churned out rhetoric about multicultural diversity and mutual respect. By tolerating Muslim intolerance of Western society, was the Netherlands setting itself on a path toward cataclysmic social confrontation? When I tried to broach the topic, Dutch acquaintances made clear it was off limits. [...]

In the 1930's, Europe faced a struggle and, many thought, a need to choose between two competing totalitarianisms. Many analysts are wondering if this is Europe's future, as well. They also wonder whether the Dutch people's anger will blow over or whether they will act decisively to protect their democracy from the undemocratic enemy within.

As de Tocqueville recognized, though he found it troubling, intolerance and conformity have been central to the American Republic. Were he to observe the modern version of tolerance, he'd quickly grasp how necessary our intolerant tolerance is to a successful society. You can have some differences over means, but not over ends--indeed, tolerance can only be a means, not an end, or the society is rendered incoherent.

Dutch Cardinal: Moral Breakdown Has Left Holland Open to Islamic Takeover (, 11/18/04)

Cardinal Adrianis Simonis of Utrecht believes that the "spiritual vacuity" of Dutch society has left the Netherlands open to an Islamic cultural takeover.

"Today we have discovered that we are disarmed in the face of the Islamic danger," the cardinal told the Italian daily Avvenir. He pointed out that even some young people who were born and raised in the Netherlands have become militant Muslims. The rise of Islam, Cardinal Simonis said, is related to "the spectacle of extreme moral decadence and spiritual decline that we offer" to young people.

"Nowadays political leaders ask whether the Muslims will accept our values," the Dutch cardinal observed. "I ask, 'What values are those? Gay marriage? Euthanasia?'"

If those are the reigning moral principles on which today's society is built, Cardinal Simonis continued, he rejects them as emphatically as Islamic leaders.

The cardinal said that he did not intend to take an extreme position, insisting "fundamentalism is always a problem." But on the other hand, he said, a society must be based on a common understanding of public order and morality. "It isn't enough to learn our language," he said.

The problem for the Netherlands, the cardinal continued, is a "lack of identity."

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 19, 2004 9:10 AM

Public Order?
-- the Trekkies

Posted by: Ken at November 19, 2004 1:46 PM

Many, many Star Trek episodes, in each of the series, revolved around morality.

The only thing the Trekkers had evolved beyond was capitalism, due to their access to extremely cheap and abundant energy, coupled with the
matter converters and holodecks.

They still had private property, though.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 19, 2004 8:32 PM

But not the Farengi, profit man!

Posted by: Perry at November 20, 2004 9:35 AM

The morality of the StarTrek world revolved around "The Prime Directive", which was violated, fudged, ignored, rationalized and blurred so often, that were these real humans, Vulcans, etc., the Federation would have collapsed and Earth conqured by the Romulans or Cardassians, or someone long before James Tiberius Kirk was old enough to know why he liked girls.

What is/will be our (the USA) common understanding of public order and morality?

For the Federation of Planets it was the Prime Directive and it was a hollow standard.

There's an old saying here in Western Michigan, "if you ain't Dutch, you ain't much." My take on the Cardinal's words is, "we are Dutch, but we ain't much."

Posted by: Dave at November 20, 2004 4:08 PM

Star Trek always was unclear about who won the Cold War. It is however pretty obvious that in the Star Trek universe, the Soviets did.

I really had to wonder what the difference was between a Dominion-dominated universe and a Federation-dominated one, especially for a Ferengi like me.

Posted by: Bart at November 20, 2004 7:00 PM

The Comms defeated the Yangs, but didn't cruch their identity (if I am recalling the episode from the original series correctly).

Posted by: Dave at November 20, 2004 10:51 PM


I would imagine that to a Ferengi the difference wouldn't be much. To a businessman in Mongolia would it matter whether Stalin dominated your country or whether Mao did? Probably not.

Posted by: Dave at November 20, 2004 11:06 PM