Holland After van Gogh

The murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh and the ensuing arson attacks against mosques, churches, and Islamic schools have caused more soul-searching in Dutch homes in the last week than in the past two decades. The old Netherlands, it seems, has ceased to be, never to return.

The goal now must be to unite the Dutch people. This will require much work on the part of both immigrants and native Dutch. As long as moderates keep their heads, a new Netherlands may be born out of the terrible events of the past weeks.

It is often said of the various immigrant groups in the Netherlands that they lack the ability to "cleanse themselves" through honest self-appraisal and criticism. There are many who acknowledge this and want to change. Non-committal multiculturalism has long kept the conservatism of Dutch Moroccans and Dutch Turks hidden from the public eye. Among immigrants, soul-searching is closely related to belonging and commitment, which in practice boils down to feeling part of society and feeling responsible for the city, neighborhood, and street where you live.

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