Today in the New York Times there is an article by racist Dutch politician Geert Wilders (one wonders what are the selection criteria for articles in the liberal media) where he asks for a national direct binding referendum on refugeee policy. He also criticizes political elites in the name of ordinary people, asks for his country to leave the European Union, and a return to national sovereignty (three of these points -namely direct democracy, national sovereignty and elite bashing, not the others -namely europhobia and xenophobia, are also made by Spanish leader of leftist populist Podemos party, Pablo Iglesias). This makes sense from the point of view of racist politicians: in the first year of Hitler in power, there where three referendums, as this is a great democratic method for demagogues in chaotic circumstances. Yet, as Nicholas Kristof reminds us in the next page in the New York Times, in January 1939, Americans polled said by a two-to-one majority that the United States should not accept 10,000 mostly Jewish refugee children from Germany. That year, the United States turned away a ship, the St. Louis, with Jewish refugee children; the St. Louis returned to Europe, where some of its passengers were murdered by the Nazis.
There is hope though. Here’s what Financial Times journalist Simon Kuper had to say about The Netherlands two weeks ago: “ The other day I was back in Leiden, the sleepy Dutch town where I grew up, listening to a rare politician tell a pro-refugee story. Ahmed Aboutaleb landed in the Netherlands from Morocco aged 15. Now he’s Social Democratic mayor of Rotterdam and, according to a poll in March, the most popular Dutch politician.
Aboutaleb walked into Saint Peter’s Church in Leiden flanked by enormous blond bodyguards — a scene unthinkable in the placid Netherlands of my childhood. He greeted the VeerStichting symposium with, “Nice of you to give this refugee shelter today.”(…)
He always listens. He says people want to know, “Are you still paying attention to me?” However, he adds, leaders then need to decide for themselves. Democracy, he says, isn’t opening your window and shouting, “‘What do you want?’ ‘Cake!’ ‘Then we’ll serve cake.’”
When it comes to refugees, Aboutaleb isn’t serving voters cake. In Leiden he quoted from the Koran in Arabic. He also noted, “A lot of talent from around the world flies over our heads to New York and London,” because many foreigners feel unwelcome in the Netherlands. And he said: “I think it’s fantastic to be in a position to help others.”Aboutaleb discussed the refugee influx in practical, undramatic language as something the Netherlands can handle. The nearly all-white audience gave him a standing ovation.”