Overdue change in the Netherlands
New realism about minorities on the Left
Something fairly remarkable is happening in the Netherlands, writes John Vinocur.
Two weeks ago, the country's biggest left-wing political grouping, the Labor Party, which has responsibility for integration as a member of the coalition government led by the Christian Democrats, issued a position paper calling for the end of the failed model of Dutch "tolerance." .If judged on the standard scale of caution in dealing with cultural clashes and Muslims' obligations to their new homes in Europe, the language of the Dutch position paper and Lilianne Ploumen, Labor's chairperson, was exceptional. The paper said:
"The mistake we can never repeat is stifling criticism of cultures and religions for reasons of tolerance." Government and politicians had too long failed to acknowledge the feelings of "loss and estrangement" felt by Dutch society facing parallel communities that disregard its language, laws and customs.
Newcomers, according to Ploumen, must avoid "self-designated victimization." . Instead of reflexively offering tolerance with the expectation that things would work out in the long run, she said, the government strategy should be "bringing our values into confrontation with people who think otherwise.". "Without a strategy to deal with these issues, all discussion about creating opportunities and acceptance of diversity will be blocked by suspicion and negative experience."
And that comes from the heart of the traditional, democratic European left, where placing the onus of compatibility on immigrants never found such comfort before. It's a point of view that makes reference to work and education as essential, but without the emphasis that they are the single path to integration.
Rather, Labor's line seems to stand on its head the old equation of jobs-plus-education equals integration. Conforming to Dutch society's social standards now comes first. Strikingly, it turns its back on cultural relativism and uses the word emancipation in discussing the process of outsiders' becoming Dutch. . Indeed, Ploumen says, "Integration calls on the greatest effort from the new Dutch. Let go of where you come from; choose the Netherlands unconditionally." Immigrants must "take responsibility for this country" and cherish and protect its Dutch essence.
Not clear enough? Ploumen insists, "The success of the integration process is hindered by the disproportionate number of non-natives involved in criminality and trouble-making, by men who refuse to shake hands with women, by burqas and separate courses for women on citizenship. "We have to stop the existence of parallel societies within our society."
And the obligations of the native Dutch? Ploumen's answer is, "People who have their roots here have to offer space to traditions, religions and cultures which are new to Dutch society" - but without fear of expressing criticism. "Hurting feelings is allowed, and criticism of religion, too."
.[One uncynical] explanation (that comes, remarkably, from Frits Bolkestein, the former Liberal Party leader, European commissioner, and no friend of the socialists, who began writing in 1991 about the enormous challenge posed to Europe by Muslim immigration): "The multi-cultis just aren't making the running anymore. It's a brave step towards a new normalcy in this country. "
Britain's misguided social "services"
The satirical Jeremy Clarkson mocks their badly misdirected efforts
When I was a keen young reporter on a local newspaper, I was dispatched to the council house of a young woman who'd called and said her home had been overrun by cockroaches. Home turned out to be the wrong word. It was a structure of sorts containing nothing but upturned boxes and several children who looked like they'd walked straight off the set of Kes. As we tried to sort out a family picture, it transpired that the woman had absolutely no idea which kids were hers and which ones belonged to what I'd taken until that point to be a puddle of lard but was in fact her sister. Nor did she have the first clue what cockroaches were. "You know what they do?" she said. "They burrow into kiddies' heads, lay their eggs and the kiddies end up with a head full of spiders."
That was 30 years ago, and you might imagine things on the sink estates of grim northern towns were much better these days. But no. Over the Christmas holidays we read about the Mansfield couple who went on a seven-hour drinking binge with their sick-encrusted baby. The father was an extraordinary-looking creature who appeared to be part mouse, part pipe cleaner, and the mother had six previous drunk-and-disorderly convictions. Plainly, then, they are entirely unsuitable parents, and unless the social services continue to keep a close eye, their poor child will wake up one day in a box under a bed and it'll be Shannon Matthews all over again.
I was therefore delighted to read last week that the government is going to take action to make life that little bit better for the children of this great nation. However, it is not talking about increasing its vigilance on children who are made to eat only what they can find in the heroin-laced stairwells of the tower blocks in which they live, or those who are sent out to exchange stolen car radios for six-packs of Rohypnol. Instead, it will be employing a vast army of men and women with clipboards who will come round to your house when your child is two to make sure it can speak properly. This is bound to be a worry if you are Glaswegian or the love child of Ant and Dec.
The initiative is being developed in response to a report that found some two-year-olds were unaware they had a name, let alone what it was. And that one in 10 of all children in deprived areas didn't know a single nursery rhyme.
Hmmm. I've given this some thought, and I can't see the problem. Nursery rhymes are cruel and terrible things full of stories about dismembered sheep and the bubonic plague. You have Simple Simon, who was obviously a retard, Hickory Dickory Dock, which is just rubbish, and Wee Willie Winkie, who ran through the town in his nightclothes, peering through the windows of children to see if they were in bed. Clearly, the man was a paedophile, and the less two-year-olds know about such things, the better.
In fact, I applaud any parent who hides these sordid and frightening stories and encourages their children to play Grand Theft Auto instead. But I very much doubt the parka army with its clipboards will share my views. Nor do I expect it will concentrate its efforts in areas where children are in real need of help.
In the same way that airport security people blunderbuss their antiterrorism efforts across the board, which means they are just as likely to jab a digit in the back of Harry Potter as they are a sweating Afghan with wires poking out of his shoes, social workers are just as likely to target the local vicarage as they are the sink estate. Indeed, they've already said as much. Someone called Jean Gross, who is spearheading the government's drive to make children learn nursery rhymes by the time the umbilical cord is cut, says that such problems also affect middle-class families, especially if their undertwos spend long periods in mediocre childcare while both parents work hard to pay off a big mortgage.
I find this a bit terrifying because I remember, when my children were young, having them examined by someone who didn't know them, didn't know us and could summon, with the stroke of a ballpoint, a government machine that could at worst take them away and at best give them a problem with a Latin name that they'd spend the rest of their lives trying to overcome. And all because they didn't know Humpty Dumpty was not an egg, or a fatty, but a civil war cannon.
I actually know one couple who, quite wrongly, had their child taken away. And could have it back only if they lived in secure accommodation with 24-hour surveillance. It remains the most barbaric example of a useless and dangerous system that now is set to get even worse.
When it comes to the rearing of a child, there is no definitive right and wrong. Social workers - whom I admire for the most part - will continue to be too cautious in some cases and too heavy-handed in others. Mistakes will continue to be made, which is fine if you are a shelf-stacker or you pick vegetables for a living. But when your mistake devastates a family, it is absolutely not fine at all.
If we go back to the children I encountered 30 years ago in that cockroach-infested house, it's entirely possible they are all now in jail for selling ketamine to toddlers. But it's also possible (just) that they are university professors. And let's finish with the example of a young girl whose father was an abusive alcoholic and whose mother became so fed up that she shot him dead in front of the child. Every rulebook in the world would say she should be taken into care. She wasn't. And she grew up to be Charlize Theron.
Another example of that wonderful government "planning"
The Australian city of Brisbane is suffering severe water rationing while a major dam in the region is overflowing! Beat that! Why? The Left-run State government built the dams and the pipelines but forgot about the treatment plants!
A $900 MILLION pipeline pumping water from the Gold Coast to Brisbane is operating at full capacity while the Hinze Dam continues to send millions of litres of water over the spillway each day. The Southern Regional Pipeline was commissioned last month and in the past six weeks has been sending 70 million litres of water a day north via the Molendinar treatment plant. About 50 million litres of water is diverted to the Mt. Crosby treatment plant to dilute the foul-tasting water Brisbane residents have encountered following the big storms late last year. The other 20 million litres is sent to Logan residents.
SEQWater Grid acting chief executive Barry Dennien said no more water could be sent to Brisbane. "The capacity constraint from the Hinze Dam is not the amount of water in storage," he said. "It's really about how much you can get out of the treatment plant, and we've got the treatment plant running flat out at the moment."
Between 200 and 260 million litres of water are pumped from the Hinze Dam each day to the Gold Coast and Brisbane. Acting Premier Paul Lucas said the capacity of the grid had to be weighed against the cost to households. "We will continue to augment our water supply infrastructure but we must balance any extra supplies against extra cost to consumers," Mr Lucas said.
While water restrictions have been suspended on the Gold Coast, Brisbane residents continue to face high-level restrictions. Gold and Sunshine Coast residents can do everything from washing their boats and cars to topping up the pool and water gardens. But Brisbane residents can use the hose for no more than half an hour once a week. That has not stopped Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke saying that Brisbane should keep its hands off water from the overflowing Hinze Dam. He was concerned that the water going to Brisbane would see the region forced back on to water restrictions. "It's crazy. We've been send- ing 50 megalitres a day for over six weeks. Brisbane doesn't need it," he said."
Opposition LNP spokesman Tim Nicholls said the water grid was flawed and better planning would have reduced the need for water restrictions. "The whole purpose of the water grid is to re-allocate the water throughout the region," he said. "If it were working properly you would think there would be equal amounts of water available whether you lived in Brisbane, or the Gold Coast, or at Pine Rivers or Redcliffe."
However Acting Premier Paul Lucas said the opposition was being hypocritical. "I'm surprised the opposition is calling for the Gold Coast to send more water to Brisbane when it has repeatedly told people there and on the Sunshine Coast that they were getting a raw deal," he said. "This is despite the fact that in recent years both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts were in drought and would have been able to benefit from the water grid now in place:"
The article above by Mitch Gaynor appeared under the heading "Coast's water let spill" in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on 4 January, 2008
Child homicide rates reduced if spanking banned?
This is totally illogical. Because feral parents injure their children, everybody else is to be restricted? Ferals ignore the law anyway. Injuring a child is already an offence. There is no need for further laws -- just better enforcement and better vigilance over feral parents
Child homicide rates could be slashed if parents are banned from smacking their children, according to new research by Australian doctors. Revealing that a third of child homicides are caused by "fatal child abuse" linked to corporal punishment by parents and carers, psychologists have called for smacking to be outlawed. Of the 165 cases of child homicide committed in New South Wales W between 1991 and 2005, 59 were caused by physical punishments with young fathers and stepfathers the biggest culprits.
The call is being backed by Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive officer Joe Tucci, who said the risks associated with physical punishment were too great to allow smacking to continue. "I believe there is a link between the community acceptance of physical punishment and children who end up being killed," he said. "If you look at some of the cases in Victoria over the last four of five years, those kids that were physically beaten the carer who did it started off trying to physically discipline them and went too far.
New Zealand - which banned smacking in 2007 - and the US are the only comparable nations in the world with higher rates of child homicide than Australia, and lead researcher Dr Olav Nielssen from Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital said it was time for Australia to follow international lead. "A third of the homicides were due to fatal child abuse and any measure that reduced it is worth considering it," he said. "Everyone laughed when Sweden introduced it (smacking bans) 30 years ago, but in the 15 years after they did they didn't have a single case of fatal child abuse and a lot of other countries have followed suit. "I think most families could give it up and find other ways to control and discipline children and maybe one of the things we have to think about is alternative ways to train vulnerable families in better parenting skills."
As well as being responsible for a third of child homicides, Dr Nielssen said hitting children created a circle of violence with abused children often becoming bullies at school and involved in anti-social behaviour in the community. He said smacking bans, combined with strong public education about ways to better discipline children, would make the biggest difference in reducing Australia's child homicide rates. Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Nielssen and his colleagues also called on colleagues to act on the first signs of mental illness among parents to save young lives.
They found 27 instances where children were killed by someone during psychotic illness, which may be reduced if doctors recognised and treated the first episode of psychosis. Five children also died after carers gave them methadone, leading for calls to end "take away" doses of methadone so that the treatment was only provided to adults under supervision.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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