Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been in the news again over the refusal by the Dutch government to continue funding her security arrangements. Pieter Dorsman at PJM analyses what led to this decision, an analysis notable for its lack of hysteria and clear-eyed understanding.
Firstly, on a cultural level the Dutch dislike heroes and outspoken success stories, more than once have I explained to foreigners that famous national mantra “act normal, that is strange enough’. Even at the height of her popularity Hirsi Ali was disliked by most Dutchmen. She was too outspoken, disrupted the existing order even though many felt she had a valid point. Hirsi Ali herself never grasped this and took her newfound freedom literally, never finding the right note that would allow her to really fit into the ‘Dutch debate’. Secondly, on a practical level the entire approach to her – her eviction from her apartment, the questions over her passport and her security – were all dealt with in purely administrative and legal terms. Not once did moral considerations or feelings enter a string of bizarre decisions that on its surface appear to be defensible yet upon closer examination lacked any reasonable basis and merely provided an easy justification for many to expedite Hirsi Ali’s exit. Thirdly, and that is something I have more than once addressed on my own blog, the Dutch are not tolerant by nature: at best they are pragmatic, at worst indifferent.
I think that description of the Dutch could as well be applied here and in many other places. The resolution of big questions often comes down to inertia, legalisms and indifference.