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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Geert Wilder’s new idea: “Report-a-Pole”

Geert Wilders is at it again. His newest idea involves launching a website that allows proper Dutch citizens to report bad, bad, bad Poles, Romanians, and other citizens of East and Central European countries if they had, in any way, offended said proper Dutch citizens, for example by working where a proper Dutch person should be working. And for lower wages! Ah, the nerve!

The website is well organised. If you click on “Meld uw verhaal hier” (“Tell us your story”), it will lead you to a form you can fill in. You can even  say how, where and when has the Polish person offended you. Of course, I am talking about Polish people, but it applies to other citizens of Middle and Eastern Europe. It is so easy! A few clicks and you can report your neighbour that you hate so much! After all, he is Polish!

In today’s Metro (update: I wrote this post a few days ago), the PVV has announced that thousands of proper Dutch people flocked to complain about the bad, bad Poles! This is not good. After all, Poles do not have a good reputation in Western Europe, and this doesn’t help. Yes, it is said that Polish people are lazy and drunk on top of being thieves, but of lately, another picture of a Pole has emerged: that of a hard - working, intelligent person. Or that of a sexy plumber. Either one is better than lazy and drunk.

I try to be a good person, whether I’m Polish or not. And, because I live abroad, I have a duty to behave at my best. I am not at home; I am a guest in the Netherlands. But not everybody sees it like that. However, I think behaviour has nothing to do with nationality, but with what kind of person you are.

I have found out about this new website through a friend of mine who linked an article on his Facebook wall. There, an interesting discussion followed. Somebody asked what we could do to counter this action. I wrote, referring to what one of the commenters said about the article, that we could launch a similar website to report Dutch people. It turned out this wasn’t such a good idea. Because as somebody pointed out, if we should start such a website, why not launch similar websites for other nationalities, thus making it possible to report anybody for anything? Taking eye for an eye (online in this case) is not the answer, it’s only being dragged down to Geert Wilder’s level.

So, what is a Pole to do? Well, for once, we could behave as if we were guests because that’s what we are. We should learn Dutch. We should learn about Dutch traditions and customs. We should read Dutch newspapers, or watch Dutch TV. Our children can go to Dutch schools or bilingual schools with Dutch. Integration is not assimilation, so we don’t have to worry about losing our roots unless we choose to.

On the other hand, maybe Dutch people could stop blaming things like economic crisis on Poles? We are not responsible for your crisis. Don’t make assumption about the whole nation after meeting only one Polish person. Don’t assume that just because there’s a cliché about someone that it is true. Please remember that you have benefited tremendously from the expats working for you! 

If a Polish person assaults you or steals your things, the right authority to report them to is the police. Not because they are Polish, but because they committed a crime. A website to complain about people because they are Polish will not do the trick. If anything, it will create more misunderstanding and more problems.

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  1. I'm so glad you've spoken out about this website, which sounds hideous. I have to say, though, that I don't really feel immigrants should consider themselves as guests, because to my mind the world belongs to us all. Saying that, I absolutely agree with your sentiments of equality!

    1. Yes, I see where you're coming from. But, while we can feel at home in our new country, in the eyes of the people, we still represent our countries. The website is not really hideous, it's more ridiculous.


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