Dutch children learning nationalism, forgetting about slavery?


This music video is called “O la folle entreprise du Prince de Condé“, a song from 1568. It is the original version of the Dutch national anthem (the Wilhelmus), by Spanish soldiers mocking their French Protestant enemies. Its original lyrics were in French. In 1568, these Roman Catholic Spanish soldiers fought Protestant enemies in the Netherlands as well, as the Dutch revolt against the king of Spain started.

Before the Dutch general election in March this year, the conservative Christian CDA party proposed that Dutch children should start their school days standing at attention to sing the Wilhelmus. People widely saw that CDA proposal as a concession to the nationalism of Geert Wilders‘ xenophobic PVV party. It was also similar to Shinzo Abe’s right-wing nationalist and World War II revanchist government in Japan’s policy on schoolchildren; even on 3-year-old nursery school toddlers.

Ever since the Dutch general election in March this year, political parties are trying to form a new coalition government. To have a majority in parliament, at least four parties are needed.

At present, four parties are negotiating, the CDA; the VVD (pro-big business, the party of Mark Rutte, prime minister in the outgoing government); the Christian Union (even more conservative than the CDA on women’s and LGBTQ issues, but not so pro-big business on the environment); and D66 (secular, pro-big business, but critical of xenophobic tendencies in CDA and VVD). A coalition of these four parties would have a majority of just one seat in parliament.

Today, Dutch NOS TV reports that the four parties have agreed on mandatory lessons at schools on the national anthem. That in itself may not be wrong, IF these lessons are critical and historically accurate. However, there is the danger of nationalist indoctrination; if one reads further in the NOS report:

According to the Algemeen Dagblad daily, the parties also want young people to get a booklet about the history of the Netherlands on their eighteenth birthday. A D66 plan for lessons about colonialism and slavery is said to not have made it [into the coalition government plans].

D66 is not really a left-wing party. Still, they are the most leftist in the proposed right-wing coalition government. Apparently, they acquiesced in the nationalist history lessons plans omitting slavery and colonialism of the three other parties. When Indonesia was still a Dutch colony, Dutch schoolchildren used to learn a lot about colonialism. They were taught that it was supposedly something to have national pride about. After Indonesia stopped being a Dutch colony, declaring independence, Dutch children stopped learning about colonialism. The cruel reality of slavery has never been part of the Dutch education curriculum.

3 thoughts on “Dutch children learning nationalism, forgetting about slavery?

  1. Pingback: German army against German civilians? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Slavery, more important in Dutch history than thought | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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