Ashley Huizinga-Staff Writer (Off-Campus: SPICE)
In the last few weeks, the Netherlands as a country responded quite vehemently and satirically against the opinions of the United States president. You or someone you know has definitely seen the video that went viral a while ago, the one that welcomed Donald Trump’s official inauguration into the minds of the Dutch people from the perspective of “America First, Netherlands Second.” The video is hilarious, of course. But even as it’s no surprise that the majority of the voices I hear in the Netherlands are heartily against the new president and what he stands for, Holland has its own Donald Trump-like figure. At least, that’s what a lot of people (including my host dad and some Viaa University students) believe.
Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ resume includes headlines for his anti-Islamic criticisms (as well as for his striking physical similarity to the most powerful man in the free world, humorously so). What’s more, his Freedom Party is also known for leading (though narrowly) in the polls as the March 15 Dutch elections approach. However, amidst the headlines, many Dutch politicians fail to take him seriously and instead accuse him and his followers of racism and hate speech. His political adversaries then use those accusations to discount anything for which Wilder fights.
Dutch politics is a hugely complicated thing, with more than 10 parties represented in the Dutch House of Representatives compared to the five major political parties in the States (only 2 of which have representation in Congress). But the state of politics in the country isn’t really the important issue here. Rather, one should recognize significance in the fact that more Trump-like figures are rising in power and authority across the globe.
This reality means something for the world today.
Even while countries like the Netherlands continue to advocate for freedom, tolerance and acceptance, the popularity (although controversial popularity, to be sure) of Trump and Wilder demonstrate the public’s dissatisfaction with mainstream politics, their frustration with “political correctness” and maneuvering.
In a society where no information is taboo, people want clarity, simplicity and straight answers. Although the statements that Trump and Wilder make may be biased, uncomfortable and even unethical (depending on whom you talk to), they still qualify as statements, and as answers. That, I believe, is why Trump and Wilders have the followings that they do, because as citizens and businessmen first and foremost, they understand the necessity of honesty and transparency.
It is when we force ourselves to look through those glasses of transparency that we will be exposed to things we’d rather not see.