As my fellow swapper in the cross-cultural email connection swap explained here, there are some current developments in the Netherlands that are quite worrisome. The "party of freedom" (how ironical) and their party leader Geert Wilders are on a roll against minorities in the country, abusing the economic crisis and rising tensions for their own twisted rhetorics. He even dares talking about deportation. Unfortunately Wilders is a very intelligent character with great debating skills. We've seen that strategy before...
Due to our German history much of this happens under cover here, whereas in neighboring countries it is discussed publicly (see Switzerland for the minaret ban proposal). I am not saying this is better or worse. Just in general it seems a common theme that the old mechanism of difficult economic and political times and the search for easy scapegoats along with xenophobia is starting once more. For me it was especially hard to believe that the age of the 60s had left so little effect in Germany. I mean the people in power right now were part of the movement that demanded prosecution of WW3 crimes and attacked their parents for tabooing everything that had happened.
My Dutch friend told me he really loved de Hague, but he couldn't warm up to it as so many people voted for Wilders. I wonder if the situation will get worse once more or people will realize sooner where this might be going.
The Netherlands used to have a very multicultural, tolerant image in the past, which they are slowly losing. The problems of integration are boiling up just as they are in Germany and other countries.
This picture very much reminded me of the USA. On this square kids from Africa and the Middle East were playing together. On the next it was the Asian kids...
Hmm. Naming similarities is more difficult than finding differences. How typical :-(
Well, the Netherlands and Germany share a good deal of media, education, economic, political and religious
factors. In consequence it is quite easy for my friend and me to converse without much need for explanations.
Another thing that the Netherlands and Germany share, for example, is that they have three layers of governing: federal, provincial (in Germany it is state level) and communal. You can see the flags of all Dutch provinces here (the one of Holland with the hearts and diagonal blue stripes is best known, I think):
The middle layer of government, so to say, doesn't have as much power in the Netherlands as it does in Germany. That means over here you might get in trouble if you change from one federal state to the next as a high-school-student (and a few of them are only city-size), because the school systems are completely different. It makes a lot of things very complicated, as you can imagine.
Ok, enough of the complicated things. We had great weather and the architecture of the city is very interesting, a blend of historic houses and (mostly) well-designed skyscrapers, where most things are in walking distance.
And finally, just for fun, this picture made me laugh. I am getting the idea this hotel tower is never going to be finished... (if you don't get the joke, check the name of the hotel)