Loathing has long lurked beneath the surface of the liberal Dutch cultureby Joris Luyendijk / March 14, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Just three decades ago, the world considered the Netherlands a byword for tolerant self-confidence: a social laboratory for gay rights, soft drugs, regulated prostitution and euthanasia. The country’s most right-wing party, the liberal-conservative VVD, was well to the left of the US Democrats. Progressive Dutch intellectuals called their country the “guide-nation,” which was proving to the world that gay marriage and legal marijuana did not spell the end of civilisation. Instead, stable and prosperous, the country seemed like a happy model of freedom, diversity and multiculturalism.
Never did this self-image fit more snugly than on one sunny Saturday in June 1988 when, having beaten Germany in the semi-finals, our football squad beat an uninspired Soviet Union to win the European Championship. The team had key roles for Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Gerald Vanenburg. All three had Surinamese roots—the German and Soviet teams were entirely white. The multicultural Dutch played the more attractive football and won.