Parliamentary debate on institutional racism spirals out of control

On Wednesday the Dutch parliament went into a debate about institutional racism in the Netherlands. The debate consisted of arguments and insults- and resulted in very few concrete measures.

Racism has been high on the agenda in the Netherlands in the last months. Following the death of George Floyd, thousands gathered in protest of racism everywhere in the Netherlands.

Spurred by this national momentum, political parties D66, PvDA and GroenLinks scheduled a parliamentary debate. This time, the debate would result in concrete measures against institutional racism, they promised.

Institutional racism

Among other things, they hoped to tackle discrimination in the job market, get a national coordinator against racism, ban ethnic profiling, and get the Dutch government to apologise for its history of slavery, reports De Volkskrant. Unfortunately, the debate did not go this way. Political parties pushed their own agenda, threw accusations, and insulted one another.

Azarkan from Denk accused PvDA leader Asscher of racism. In response, Asscher angrily argued that Denk itself took part in ethnic profiling.

PVV leader Wilders exclaimed that racism doesn’t exist in the Netherlands in the first place. He cited research that showed that 95 per cent of Dutch people don’t have a problem being friends with those of another skin colour.

Leftist hysteria

According to Wilders, all the protests following the death of Goerge Floyd are a sign of ‘leftist hysteria’. “Despite the presence of scum called Akwasi, the Netherlands is a tolerant country”, says Wilders. GroenLinks leader Klaver responded that it was a disgrace that Wilders said this.

A drunk cucumber

The debate lost all respect when the parliament members started insulting one another. Azarkan called an argument made by Asscher a ‘cheap chat trick’. Klaver called Wilders an ‘idiot’, and Wilders retaliated by calling Klaver a ‘political hooligan’, whose party members support communist mass murderers. The pinnacle of them all was Azarkan, who called SP leader Marijnissen ‘a drunk cucumber’.

No to an apology for slavery

Despite what was aimed for beforehand, there were very little concrete measures made by the end of the debate. While Rutte had earlier acknowledged institutional racism in the country,  he now said that making apologies for the Dutch slavery history would unnecessarily polarize the country. Besides this, “the question is if you can hold people today responsible for past. Neither the victims nor the perpetrators are alive anymore”, says Rutte.

In response, Klaver said that “you can only move forward if you acknowledge your past”. Coalition parties D66 and ChristenUnie will continue to ask for this apology from the government they reported.

The suggestion by GroenLinks and D66 to turn 2023 into a remembrance year for the Dutch slavery history was met with more agreement. In 2023 it will have been 150 years since the end of Dutch slavery in Suriname. A remembrance year for this was a “good idea” according to Rutte.

What did you think of Wednesday’s parliamentary debate? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured Image: thehague/Pixabay

Annabelle Willeme
Annabelle was born in Utrecht but grew up in Mali, Bosnia and Uganda. She moved back to Utrecht to study and is so far doing a terrible job getting back in touch with Dutch culture. Hopefully, it’s an upward trend from here. Besides writing she enjoys playing football, re-watching Grey’s Anatomy for the 10th time, drinking copious amounts of tea and has recently started trying to brew her own wine and beer… we’ll see how it goes.

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