Monday, October 08, 2007

Orange Crush

Christopher "Did that play of mine send out/certain men the English shot" Hitchens in Slate --

If any country has enjoyed a long reputation for peaceful and democratic consensus combined with civic fortitude, that country is the Netherlands. It was one of the special countries of the Enlightenment, providing refuge for the family of Baruch Spinoza and for the heterodox Pierre Bayle and René Descartes. It overcame Catholic-Protestant fratricide with a unique form of coexistence, put up a spirited resistance to Nazi occupation, evolved a constitutional form of monarchy, and managed to make a fairly generous settlement with its former colonies and their inhabitants.

History of Belgium --

The Belgian Revolution had many causes; principally the treatment of the French-speaking Catholic Walloons in the Dutch-dominated United Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the difference of religion between the Belgians and their Dutch king. The main cause of the Belgian Revolution was the domination of the Dutch over the economic, political, and social institutions of the United Provinces. The Belgians had little influence over the economy and resented Dutch control ...

Also at this time, the more numerous Dutch provinces represented a majority in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands' elected Lower Assembly, where the Belgians felt significantly under-represented. However, the Belgians saw the main political domination in the fact that King William I was Dutch, lived in the present day Netherlands, and largely ignored the Belgian demands for greater self-determination ...

Another cause of the Belgian Revolution was the Belgian peoples' faith, Roman Catholicism, which conflicted with that of their Dutch King, and his belief in Calvinism. Although there were and still are many Roman Catholics in the present-day Netherlands, the Belgians saw themselves as purely Catholic and demanded a higher role for the Church, and for Catholics, in their government. In a sense, the Belgian Revolution was a revolution of a French-speaking upper and middle class that exchanged Dutch hegemony for French-speaking hegemony.

If that's Hitch's benign interpretation of Dutch history, no wonder he got Iraq so wrong.

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