Have Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) made it to the Netherlands? I thought we were still good for a while, but I’m calling it: anything with any politically incorrect attachment to the Netherlands’ colonial past is going to have to watch out.
Of course, things need to change for the better and a European country like the Netherlands still grappling with the reality of its colonial past is painfully aware of this, but threatening people is not the way to go. Threats are the new norm, which is scary, as they suppress any possible consensus reaching, something this country was also built on.
The VOC Café (VOC = Dutch East India Company) in downtown Amsterdam located in the Schreierstoren (Schreier tower) is going to change its name purely to stop the barrage of threats the owners keeps receiving. Why now and not ages ago, I can only imagine, although it has a strong SJW flavour to it. The owners are scared and are giving in.
The café has been around since 1995 with ‘VOC’ in the name and nobody said squat. The easy accessibility to social media has to have made a difference in sending threats. The owners have said they have been receiving threats for years now, but it has escalated enough to make them change their name, a costly endeavour.
“Our business is called VOC Café because from here Henry Hudson set sail to Manhattan, where New Amsterdam was founded, later called New York.” By the way, it’s a beautiful cafe, that I can tell you. The owners also completely understand that names of streets, which are being scrutinised, need to change, but believe it take some time. SJW often want everything to happen instantaneously, and their impatience makes them dangerous and volatile.
As of today, everybody online can access and search the Surinamese slave registries of the Dutch National Archives, in Dutch.
Started in summer 2017, it took 700 volunteers many months to digitise the entries about 80,000 slaves registered between 1830 and 1863, after which slavery was abolished. Slave owners were obliged to register the details of the slaves in their possession: details such as date of birth, the mother’s name, release or sale, if they had leprosy, and other matters that were important for determining their worth. This project was carried out as a collaboration between the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen and the Anton de Kom University of Surinam and financed thanks to donors.
One of the difficulties in searching the archive even today is that back then, slaves could not have last names. Their proper last name can be found on emancipation documents of 1863 and put together, many people can track the history of their ancestors.
We wrote to you ages ago about famous Dutch chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely trying very hard to produce 100% slave-free chocolate, and now they are one step closer thanks to a collaboration with French-Belgian chocolate company Callebaut.
Callebaut will install a cacao butter tank with fully traceable cacao beans just for Tony’s Chocolonely, which they say is a milestone in chocolate production. This improvement means that as of November 2016 the chocolate bars of this Amsterdam-based company will only be made from traceable cacao beans.
Read more about it because it is a very cool story and check out the video. And if anyone has any limited edition with the pop sugar in it that they don’t want for some reason, hit me up.
A Dutch chain of cafeteria-type restaurants has been sold off, and one of the things the new owners have done is get rid of their ‘volunteer’ toilet attendants.
Dutch toilet attendants are more often than not female pensioners of modest background who ‘beg’ for change in exchange for keeping an establishment’s toilets clean, the toilet paper stocked, and so on. I say ‘beg’ because they usually don’t ask for money directly, as Dutch social etiquette dictates we should pay them the amount suggested usually indicated next to a collection dish. A lot of people have issues with this, as they find it exploitative and because going to the toilet shoud be free and part of the service.
These women are apparently not appreciated enough to be hired as employees although they work for companies like fast food chains and what not that are swimming in money. In the case of the cafeteria-type restaurants, they’ve decided to actually hire employees to clean toilets like in train stations and elsewhere, and also believe toilets should be used for free.
While it is sad that a toilet attendant is being ‘dismissed’, it’s still sadder that rich companies feel it is perfectly OK to exploit these vulnerable people, a non-job that’s traditionally female and as devalued as a non-job can be with begging, buying their own cleaning supplies (!) and ‘working’ long hours. The fact that a company would rather pay people to properly clean toilets means they are cleaning up their act, not taking away someone’s government-subsidised non-livelihood.
Letting someone perform work for small change is the definition of modern-day slavery and should be abolished.
The City of Amsterdam subsidized a free educational game entitled ‘Road to Freedom’ that was 1.5 years in the making to teach children about Dutch slavery in Surinam. It was produced by the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy and designed by Pepergroen to mark the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.
The Afro-Surinamese community in the Netherlands wasn’t thrilled with the game, but neither were the Americans at Apple who called the content ”slanderous and insulting”. A quick Google search shows that Apple is not a fan of anything with slaves in it, like this sweatshop app.
On the one hand, anything too culturally confrontational makes many people from countries with unresolved colonial pasts uncomfortable and on the other, anything that is presented in a game format already downgrades the importance of historical relevance. If I were at school today and someone gave me a flee from a Russian labour camp game, I’d have a real problem with it and so would my parents.
I do get what the makers were trying to do, but unfortunately they have managed to trivialize something that deserves a much better platform. A Dutch friend of mine would say, ‘het idee is goed, maar de uitvoering is klote’ (‘The idea is good, but the execution is crap’).
UPDATE The video we had up yesterday introducing the game has been pulled offline.
Apart from the Arctics, the interior of Africa was one of the last places left for Europeans to ‘discover’ and finding the source of the Nile was a major goal for 19th century explorers.
One of these explorers was a woman from The Hague, Alexine Tinne (b. 1835 – d. 1869). Growing up as one of the richest heiresses of the Netherlands in a time when European women were expected to ‘know their place’, nobody would have batted an eyelid if Tinne had stayed at home and prepared for marriage. But even at a young age Alexine Tinne shared with her mother Henriëtte (a former lady-in-waiting and daughter of an admiral) a thirst for travel.
In 1855 mother and daughter sailed up the Nile for the first time in order to reach Karthoum, but it would take them several expeditions to succeed. In 1861 they not only reached Karthoum but decided to push through to Gondokoro in Sudan (near present-day Juba) and beyond. Gondokoro was known as the last place where the Nile was navigable but Tinne fell ill there.
During an attempt in 1863 Tinne lost her mother, her aunt and two servants; it would be her last voyage up the Nile. Writer Redmond O’Hanlon told Historiek.net that he believes Tinne and her mother wanted to discover the source of the Nile: “that was their goal, I am sure of it.” But contemporaries did not approve of women explorers and O’Hanlon fears this is why the Tinne expedition kept schtum about its real motives. Samuel Baker, another Nile explorer of the time, wrote of the competition: “There are Dutch ladies travelling without any gentlemen… They must be demented. A young lady alone with the Dinka tribe… they really must be mad. All the natives are naked as the day they were born.”
Tinne, who felt responsible for the death of her mother and aunt, stayed in Africa. In 1869 Alexine Tinne, while living in Tunesia, decided to cross the Sahara. On 2 August of that year her caravan was ambushed by Tuaregs at the wadi of Chergui in what is now Algeria. Tinne was killed with two sword blows and a gun shot.
Although she only reached the age of 33, she accomplished quite a lot during her life. She designed clothes that she wore herself, wrote and drew the source materials for a botanical guide about the plant life in Sudan (the Plantae Tinneanae), started a half-way house for freed slaves and, in between two of her Nile expeditions, experimented with photography.
That was only one game, of course, but it seemed to bring into focus what I had been observing at the Ajax youth academy, as well as learning about American soccer. How the US develops its most promising young players is not just different from what the Netherlands and most elite soccer nations do — on fundamental levels, it is diametrically opposed.
Americans like to put together teams, even at Pee Wee level, that are meant to win. The best soccer-playing nations build individual players, ones with superior technical skills who later come together on teams the US struggles to beat. In a way, it is a reversal of type. Americans tend to think of Europeans as collectivists and themselves as individualists. But in sports, it is the opposite. The Europeans build up the assets of individual players. Americans underdevelop the individual, although most of the volunteers who coach at the youngest level would not be cognizant of that.
A very interesting read, even though (or perhaps because of) the author at times keeps a lot of distance from what he essentially describes as something close to modern slavery.
(Photo by Patrick de Laive, some rights reserved. Shown here are Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart in national garb. Both players rose through the ranks of the Ajax youth academy to become world stars. Link: Eamelje.net.)
Last year journalist Teun van de Keuken failed to get convicted for complicity in slavery, as we reported back then. But now Van de Keuken’s campaign has led to at least one indictment, although probably not of the kind he was looking for: the Dutch Media Authority (Commissariaat voor de Media) has fined his broadcaster for illegal product placement.
Van de Keuken set out to raise awareness for the fact that the people harvesting cocoa, the raw material of which chocolate is made, are basically slaves. He did this by turning himself in after eating a bar of chocolate, making him complicit of slavery. The case was dismissed because the court held he was not an aggrieved party. Van de Keuken also produced his own brand of slave-free chocolate, Tony’s Chocolonely, which he talked about on his show.
Product placement is illegal on Dutch television, and the Dutch Media Authority is the watchdog that tries to ferret out any instances of it. It does not matter whether the placed products are for a good cause, but the fact that petty issues trump major ones must be bitter for those who want to see new forms of slavery banned. The DMA had some pity though, and in recognition of “this unique and experimental program” reduced the fine to EUR 20,000, the lowest in its ‘range’.
(Via print magazine De Journalist. See also Molblog (Dutch))