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Our Kind of Truth

NEW YORK – Rick Santorum, a former United States senator seeking the Republican Party’s nomination to challenge President Barack Obama this year, has been saying some very strange things about the Netherlands. Ten percent of all deaths in that country, he recently claimed, are from euthanasia, half of which are forced upon helpless patients. Old people are so frightened of being killed by homicidal doctors that they wear bracelets that read: “Do not euthanize me.”

In a way, Santorum’s canards must come as a relief to a country that has increasingly been in the news for outrageous statements by right-wing populists about Muslims and Greeks. Indeed, Santorum’s view of the Netherlands as a kind of progressive dystopia has a slightly old-fashioned ring to it nowadays.

The Dutch were nonetheless disturbed. Some in the country’s parliament even asked whether the foreign minister should lodge a complaint in Washington.

In fact, Santorum’s fantasies were swiftly refuted in the US itself. The Washington Post concluded that “there was not a shred of evidence to back up Santorum’s claims,” and found it “telling” that his campaign managers did not even bother to defend them. One US television station even apologized to a Dutch reporter in the name of the American people.