Now here is a job only a woman could do. The woman is Rita Verdonk, “Minister of Integration” in the Netherlands. Her job is, to deal with the disintegration of Dutch society, that follows from the clash between advanced European progressive “multiculturalism”, and the existence of a large, unassimilated Muslim immigrant community from North Africa.
A man could, theoretically, hold that job, but only a woman would be in a position to do what Mrs Verdonk recently did. Here is what happened, according to the papers:
Mrs Verdonk, who had already introduced various measures, some subtle some not, to curb Muslim immigration, announced to the Dutch Parliament that the right/libertarian governing coalition was looking for ways to ban the burkha, and other distinctive forms of Muslim apparel, wherever possible.
With a candour that would shock almost any Canadian, she admitted that it wouldn’t be easy, given previous Dutch “human rights” legislation. But she was confident she could find public health and safety grounds to get things like burkhas out of public buildings, shops, cinemas, airports, railway stations, public transit, and maybe even off the sidewalks. She is, incidentally, famous for her candour, even in Holland, where she rides on the broomstick of Margaret Thatcher’s old nickname, “The Iron Lady”.
In addition to the immigration legislation, she was already known for her remark: “The time for cosy tea-drinking with Muslim groups is over.” And for several others, to the effect that, given a Muslim propensity to offer critiques of Dutch society, the non-Muslim Dutch should feel equally free to critique Islamic manners and morals.
To no one’s surprise, Muslims were displeased. So were various “gliberals and leftoids”, but in contemporary Holland, they seem to have fallen out of the account. Leading representatives of the Muslim community had demanded a meeting with the minister, plus apologies and what have you. But at the meeting, they refused to shake the lady’s hand. (This Muslim habit is not, incidentally, meant to show disrespect for women; it is meant as a gallantry, against taking the liberty of touching them.)
So Mrs Verdonk (using the Western formulary) tells them she has nothing to discuss with men who won’t shake her hand, and walks away. Well: only a woman could end the meeting like that.
The clash of cultures is heartbreaking. I can guess exactly how this looks to a Muslim reader—at least, one who is not Irshad Manji. But the clash is unavoidable. The traditional solution to this problem is captured by the phrase, “When in Rome.” Travellers to Morocco may be obliged to take their shoes off, as it were; Moroccan travellers to Holland may be obliged to put them on.
But that very traditional method of avoiding cultural clash, required tact on both sides. The tact was easy enough to find, when mutual visitation was rare, and the visitors were therefore seriously outnumbered. It ceases to be available when—as in the Netherlands today—a large Muslim community is led by people who demand that the Dutch themselves not only tolerate Muslim ways, but make various accommodations in the name of “multiculturalism”.
Now, in the multicultural view, anything is okay, so long as it is not traditional. Gay marriage is okay, pornography is okay, public prostitution is okay, abortion and euthanasia are okay, and of course, massive immigration from non-Western societies is more than okay. Indeed, anything that tends to dissolve the traditional order of society is okay. On the other hand, any effort to preserve traditional social and family structures, and their supporting moral order, is marked as “oppressive” under proliferating “human rights codes”.
I have decided to launch a verb, “to verdonk”. It is needed for a new, and soon to be growing political phenomenon. I would define “verdonking” as a bold though hopeless attempt to square a sociological circle. The verdonker wants to be tough, and is prepared to be tough, in defence of what she believes to be motherhood and apple pie. She is going to defend her society, legally, from a challenge to its underpinnings. But those underpinnings are not, ultimately, legal.
Her problem being, there is no motherhood nor apple pie left to defend. Multiculturalism threw them out the window—all those non-relative things that used to assure social cohesion. They were replaced with a few abstract legal propositions, which tend to contradict one another. And the law is of no avail, when it comes to defending foundations upon which the law itself rests.