Even Dutch Soccer Mugged by Reality

A quote from Theodore Dalrymple in National Review, 30 January 2006

Several questions now haunt the country. Was its previous tolerance mere indifference, blindness, or, even worse, cowardice? [...] was it wise to have encouraged mass immigration from a deeply alien land merely to ease a temporary labor shortage? In short, will the Netherlands reap the whirlwind it has sown?

These questions are uppermost in all Dutchmen’s minds, and provoke furious debates over small matters that quickly become emblematic. Salomon Kalou, a gifted soccer player from the Ivory Coast who plays for the famous Dutch club Feyenoord, applied for immediate Dutch citizenship in the hope of being included in the Dutch national team for the World Cup championships to take place later this year in Germany. The minister of immigration, Rita Verdonk, who has presided over a toughening stance towards immigrants and asylum-seekers, has steadfastly opposed granting him citizenship, arguing that Kalou should fulfill the conditions laid down for everyone else, including a five-year residence. This has led to howls of protest from liberals, hitherto used to having everything their way.

Events in Holland are now – for the first time in many years – of interest to its neighbors and near-neighbors, many of whose problems with immigration and multiculturalism are similar. Le Monde, the French liberal-left newspaper, reported the Kalou affair, in the process calling Rita Verdonk the most hated politician in Holland: which, translated from Le Monde-speak, means that she is by far the most popular politician in the country. According to polls, three-quarters of the Dutch population support her refusal to grant Kalou citizenship merely because he is good at kicking a ball about: They recognize that there is something more at stake than the results of a soccer tournament.