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Dishonoring the Tommies of the Past

Posted by paulipoldie on November 1, 2010

Gates of Vienna

Our British correspondent Gaia was in Amsterdam for the free speech rally yesterday. Below is her report, written while on the train on the way home to London.

My Farewell Message to Mayor Eberhard Van der Laan
by Gaia

My thoughts for Mayor Van der Laan as I wend my way back home by train from Amsterdam:

Sir, you should be ashamed of yourself! The disgraceful treatment meted out to our Tommy and his friends, who came in peace to Holland to speak out about the invasion of your country by people hostile to your culture and way of life brings to my mind their forefathers, the other Tommies. In the not so distant past, those Tommies came willingly to help their Dutch brothers liberate your country from the boot of fascism, many of them dying in the process.

You are a disgrace to their memory!

But rest assured, Mayor Van der Laan: this will not be forgotten! Your time is coming to an end. The tides are changing in Europe and its people will no longer tolerate living as second class citizens in their own lands. The day of reckoning for you and your (il)liberal ilk will surely follow.

My view from the window in the autumn sunshine is of a postage stamp-sized little country where every square centimetre is lovingly tended and orderly. It brings to mind the poignant, closing paragraphs of the excellent book While Europe Slept by Bruce Bawer, who expresses it so much more eloquently than I:

As we walked around Amsterdam that March weekend, I thought about those Dutchmen emigrating to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Unlike Muslims in Europe, they’d integrate quickly — they’d find work, contribute to society, fit in. They already spoke English. Yet what, years from now, would their children think? Their grandchildren? What, for that matter, would they themselves think when they lay in bed at night, far from home, their minds flooding with images of the small, loving tended land of their birth, with its meticulously laid-out roads and walks and bicycle lanes, its painstakingly preserved old houses, its elaborate, brilliantly designed systems of dikes and canals.

The irony was tragic: having protected themselves with nothing short of genius from the violence of the sea, having instituted a welfare system meant to safeguard every last one of them from so much as a moment’s financial insecurity, and having built up a culture of extraordinary freedom and tolerance that promised each of them a life of absolute dignity and perfect equality, post-war Dutch men and women had raised up their children into tall, strapping, healthy, multilingual young adults — veritable masters of the world for whom (they were confident) life would be safe, pleasant and abundant in its rewards. They seemed to have brought Western civilization to its utmost pinnacle in terms of freedom and the pursuit of happiness, and the road ahead seemed to stretch to the horizon, straight, flat, smooth, and with nary a bump.

And yet they’d turned a blind eye to the very peril that would destroy them.

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