Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose...
Fifty years later, discriminatory systems for international immigration are returning. And, of all places, to Holland, that former bastion of liberal thought and respect for human rights. A new law that has just gone into effect requires non-Dutch people seeking to reunite with their Dutch family members to pass a citizenship test that really defies reason. In the latest issue of Le Journal Hebdomadaire, a story outlines how this test plays out for Moroccans.
You might think, this is similar to the US test. There’s nothing wrong here. But passing the test enables one only to get a visa, not to become a citizen. That’s only one of at least three contradictions about the law.
First, the test is required only for immigrants from certain countries. European Union citizens, Americans, Swiss, Australians, and Japanese are mentioned as being excluded, although we don’t know who is included, apart from Moroccans. How was this list of excluded countries compiled? Exclude all very rich or very white countries, and include all poor, brown, and/or Muslim countries? While we’re doing the quota hokey-pokey, why not ban Blacks and Jews while we’re at it? The law is discriminatory.
Second, since when did an applicant’s knowledge of the values of his or her family member’s host country become a factor in deciding whether or not the applicant can be reunited with his or her family? Because my wife married an iconoclast, a man of limited intelligence, or an activist against Dutch nationalism, our children have to be separated from their father? The law is cruel, and not a very far distance from potential abuse as a political weapon.
Finally, it’s just plain wacky. One component of the exam tests Dutch language skills at a time when the Dutch themselves (and, indeed, all the Benelux and Scandinavian countries) are valuing multilingualism—finding, for example, English or German to be far more useful in the new Europe than Flemish or Danish alone. This development has come as Europe as a whole seems to be evolving three linguas franca (English—the language of business and politics—in addition to French and German), at least one of which all Europeans find it expedient to speak, along with their own little “mother tongues,” the extent of whose use is limited to one or two tiny European nooks and crannies, like Holland. It’s a well-known fact that nearly every Dutch adult who went through high school within the past 30 years knows at least a little English. So why cultivate all these Dutch-language nationalists among the immigrants!?
Here’s a list of the questions that were included in the article, with my answers below. You try it too!
1. What’s the name of the crown prince of Holland?
2. Can women choose their partners in Holland?
3. Which country has more inhabitants, Holland or Morocco?
4. Is homosexuality legal in Holland?
5. How long was the war between Holland and Spain in the 17th century?
6. Is violence against women punishable by law in Holland?
7. Which sector employs more workers in Holland, security or construction?
1. No idea at all. The queen is Beatrix!
3. Morocco is twice the size of Holland, 32 million to 16 million
4. Better believe it
5. Oh man! Did the Thirty Years War really last 30 years, or is this one of those trick questions?
7. I would assume the labor-intensive construction sector, but with my luck I’d probably answer it during a crime wave and a real estate glut, and I’d get it wrong. How can this be considered a serious question? “I was denied a Dutch visa because I relied on obsolete data concerning the price of eggs in Guatemala...”?!