Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dutch comfort

In my 1811 "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue", there is a list of uncomplimentary expressions referring to the Dutch.

Dutch Comfort - Thank God it is no worse.
Dutch Concert - Where ever one plays or sings a different tune.
Dutch Feast - Where the entertainer gets drunk before his guest.
Dutch Reckoning - A verbal or lump account, without particulars, as brought at spunging or bawdy houses.

They don't list "Dutch Courage", oddly enough, which comes out of the bottle (gin bottle, no doubt). But Christopher Hitchens in Slate has contributed another one: "Dutch F***" - to light one cigarette with another.

Few English probably realize that these expressions come from the 17th century, when Holland was a great power and for a time, a considerable inconvenience to the English. (I think they sailed up the Thames and burnt the English fleet at one time.) Then to add insult to injury, they ended up with Dutch William III as their king.

The Dutch today have lost the boldness of their 17th century ancestors, but they still do their best to live down to the abuse the English have traditionally allotted them.

As Mark Steyn said, the people of the Netherlands have finally found a Muslim they are willing to deport - Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a fully-assimilated Member of Parliament living under house arrest to protect her from the murdering maniacs of her former religion who want her dead for apostasy and for exposing the disgusting truth about Islam. After her neighbours sued successfully to have her evicted from her home, because her courage was inconveniencing them and intruding upon the fat little comforts of their lives, the Minister of Immigration decided to show how tough she was by stripping AHA of her citizenship because she lied to get into the country 15 years ago. That obscenity has, fortunately, been quashed, due to the outrage of the world at the sight of this high-tech lynching of a successful black woman. I strongly suspect that there was some personal spite in Minister Verdonk's eagerness to stick a spoke in AHA's wheel, when she was on the verge of leaving the country voluntarily for America. Stripping her of her passport would have nicely torpedoed that project - "No freedom for YOU." This would have left the woman stateless, and perhaps deported to the Muslim snakepit she had escaped from already - a certain death sentence.

Fortunately, Verdonk's sneaky attempt at judicial murder fizzled; AHA will be coming to America after all, and Europe is one warrior the poorer (not that they care).

Among all the discussion, I was disturbed by the churlishness of some Christian commenters, such as Gates of Vienna, because AHA is an atheist. I think such fastidiousness can wait until the common enemy is vanquished. This sort of blind prejudice to religion, has always annoyed me. George W. Bush has always seemed to have this blindness; for a long time, he has acted as though ANY religion is better than none. I think it took a lot of time after 9/11 to convince him, with great reluctance, that religion is not a universal antiseptic. It's naive to say, "We believe in God; THEY believe in (a) god; so we really must be alike, at least in the important things." Time and experience have show that, as Lady Bracknell said, "Nowadays, that is no guarantee of respectability." Atheist or not, I would prefer to have Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christopher Hitchens on my side rather than Rowan Williams or Frank Griswold. Salt CAN lose its saltiness, and then you throw it out.


Blogger Dymphna said...

I do hope you were referring to the churlishness of some of the commenters on Gates of Vienna, and not Gates itself. We not only don't mind atheists, we find them quite likeable.

My problem with Hirsi Ali, and one that I hope her venture in America helps, is her seeming blind spot re authentic pluralism. The various religious sects fought hard to have their schools recognized by the Dutch constitution as legitimate. Ms. Ali, who finds all forms of religion wrong and toxic, wanted to amend the Constitution and do away with parochial schools. Churches had no business in education, by her lights.

I've discussed this with Paul Belien at Brussels Journal. He thinks, and I agree, that her early experience as a devout believer and her eventual cut-off from Islam left a kind of vacuum. She is now God-deaf.

In fact, I notice that often when intellectual people leave Islam, they take up atheism as their religion -- i.e., they are devout and fundamental atheists.

I wouldn't want to see Ms. Ali as a Christian. The emotional contortions would not be healthy. The sorrow of surrendering one's "childhood's lost faith" is too sad to consider. And then there is her relationship with her I understand it, she and her father are in regular contact.

9:31 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

It does happen that intellectuals make the most toxic atheists. Chesterton in his day noted that the most inflexible atheists seemed to be Scots who had been disappointed by the barrenness of Calvinism. Perhaps some of the extremity of the reaction stems from the depth of disappointment in a failed religion - this would explain Hirsi Ali's "We won't be fooled again" attitude. She's extending her own experience of the worthlessness of Islam and applying it to all religions - time may change this. It would be interesting to see which religion produces the most, and the most determined, materialists - do Catholics make better or worse atheists than Protestants?

In any case, I would very much like AHA to become a Christian, because Christianity is true, and nothing else will get a person to Heaven as safely and surely. I would not be willing to see anyone remain in servitude to lies, not even to promote good family feeling. Still less in order to preserve picturesque cultural traditions, as if human beings were creatures in a zoo. Sorry, cous-cous is nice, but I can do without it if I have to put up with a mandatory side of jihad. Multiculturalism has turned out to be one big fake, as we in Canada are finding out every day.

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