December 5, 2013

The War on Christmas in the Netherlands

Just because your country doesn't celebrate December 25th doesn't mean you can't have your very own War on Christmas. In the New York Times, a black Dutch writer says:
Why the Dutch Love Black Pete 
By ARNON GRUNBERG 
WHEN I was growing up in Amsterdam in the 1970s, the phenomenon of Santa Claus was relatively unknown. Christmas was celebrated without Santa and mostly without gifts. St. Nicholas — Sinterklaas in Dutch — was the man with the presents. 
If one had the good fortune to be Jewish, one received presents not only on Dec. 5, the eve of Sinterklaas’s name day, but also at Hanukkah. Only in recent years has Santa Claus, who comes on Dec. 25, made his rise to stardom in Holland, and today a Dutch child — or a Dutch adult for that matter — no longer has to be Jewish to cash in twice in December. 
Sinterklaas arrives from Spain by steamboat in late November, travels farther on horseback, climbs onto roofs and on Dec. 5, known as “Pakjesavond,” drops presents through the chimney with the help of the Black Petes, a crew of dark-skinned helpers wearing large earrings who cavort and entertain and, as Dutch parents often tell their children, owe their blackness to chimney soot. ...
Until recently, Black Pete was uncontroversial. Not because the Dutch are particularly racist, but because Sinterklaas, like the royal family, is sacred in the Netherlands, perhaps because of a dearth of other, specifically Dutch traditions. A matter, in other words, of conservatism. 
Such traditions are even more important today, given the view that, in order to safeguard the Dutch national identity, homegrown culture and folklore must not be tampered with — a view expressed primarily, though not exclusively, by the extreme right wing Party for Freedom, run by Geert Wilders. 
But just as the defense of traditions has grown stronger, so has the criticism that Black Pete is a racist holdover from the Netherlands’s colonial past. In January the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights sent a letter to the Dutch government stating that Black Pete perpetuated the image of people of African descent as second-class citizens and constituted a “living trace of past slavery.” 
The Dutch government responded by saying that it regarded the Sinterklaas tradition as a children’s celebration, that it was aware of the differences of opinion concerning Black Pete, but that it was highly committed to combating discrimination in all forms. 
... Yet the general tenor among the Dutch public was that “they” should keep their mitts off “our tradition,” an opinion you can hear in any number of variations on any street corner. By “them” people mean the United Nations and “unnatural” Dutch citizens, by both birth and naturalization, who want to put an end to this admittedly dubious tradition. 
The Black Pete debate underscores how deep within the Netherlands’s prosperous and safe society lies the fear of losing identity, undoubtedly fueled by globalization, migration and the notion that the European Union is gradually doing away with the European nation state. 
... The truly disturbing thing is the aggression conjured up by this public debate, the thinly disguised xenophobia that roiled to the surface when attempts were made to make Black Pete less black. A civilized person, after all, could say: “Personally, I don’t have much of a problem with Black Pete, but if others do, well, then, why don’t we make him Green Pete or Blue Pete?” 
But no. To my utter amazement, at least two million Dutch people have taken the stance: “Black Pete, c’est moi.” 
Which once again goes to prove that national identity often boils down to distasteful folklore. 
Arnon Grunberg is the author of the novels “The Jewish Messiah” and “Tirza.” This essay was translated by Sam Garrett from the Dutch.

Oh, sorry, check that. It turns out that the NYT did not find a black writer to be offended on behalf of blacks over this burning issue of international importance.

My apologies.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as a war on Christmas. Nothing to see here move along.

David said...

Tikkun Olam must be pushed into every crack.

Anonymous said...

Aaron Grunberg is a black man just like Bob Costas is a Navajo.

Do they still use the word "Christmas" in Holland? If so, there one step ahead of the USA, where its seemly been banned by the MSM and Establishment America in favor of the "Holiday".

RIP Pal Wokker 1918-2013 said...

Someone should make a movie like Contagion except there's an epidemic of an umbrage virus that goes global & rots out everyone's brain.

Maxwell Power said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ms. Jellyby said...

This is a long-running concern of the New Amsterdam Times, just like the sexist membership policy over at Tulip National Golf Club.

Gubbler of the Society of Reformed Chechenistics said...

Funny that Jews bitch about how X-mas is celebrated in other countries but ignore the basis of Jewish holidays such as Passover and Hannukah, both of which celebrate the mass killing of gentiles(even gentile children) and are warlike in their emphasis.

Anonymous said...

Finland is in the news again due to PISA testing.

When Americans think of Finland in history, what comes to mind? Almost nothing.

When Americans think of Spain, they think of the Spanish Civil War, and there's a lot of bitching about the US and UK didn't do much to help the Republic and communists against fascist and conservative forces. Shame, shame, oh so much shame. And critics just love PAN'S LABYRINTH which would have us believe that them Spanish commies were all angels.

But what about the Winter War in Finland when a small beleaguered nation stood up to the mighty Soviet Union. Did it receive much aid from UK and US? No. Was there any sympathy for the Finns among Western liberals? Nada. Finns had to fight all alone... until they got some material aid from Nazi Germany.

Some time ago, there was controversy about how Sibelius was a scum sucker because he visited Germany to receive some honors, but given Nazi Germany's support of Finland when Finland was faced with extinction, why would it not make sense that Sibelius might have felt some degree of gratitude to the Germans?

Shouldn't the real shame be that the free West didn't lift a finger to help Finland against a totalitarian communist giant? But you won't hear anything about that, and no apologies from the West.
Oddly enough, evil Nazi Germany was the only nation that provided any real aid to Finland in its war against a communist giant.

Maxwell Power said...

Removed Redskins comment since somebody got there first. Say, it's funny how the culture-war skirmishes get streamlined over time... To lash out at this month's ritual sacrifice like maybe the Citadel in South Carolina, you can claim you only want to perfect a great blah blah institution by adding women cadettes (for bonus, a lump quotient of people impressed by this cover story then support the crusade). But eventually you don't have to justify anything; it's time to man battle stations to take down Zwarte Piet, because Progress

Anonymous said...

Paul Walker would have had the dignity to leave Zwarte Piet alone.

ben tillman said...

WHEN I was growing up in Amsterdam in the 1970s, the phenomenon of Santa Claus was relatively unknown. Christmas was celebrated without Santa and mostly without gifts. St. Nicholas — Sinterklaas in Dutch — was the man with the presents.

WTF is this supposed to mean? "Santa Claus" and "Sinterklaas" have the same name and are presumably the same person. St. Nicholas too.

Santa = Saint = Sinter.

Claus = Nicholas = Klaas.

How stupid does this guy think we are?

Anonymous said...

WTF is this supposed to mean? "Santa Claus" and "Sinterklaas" have the same name and are presumably the same person. St. Nicholas too.

Santa = Saint = Sinter.

Claus = Nicholas = Klaas.

How stupid does this guy think we are?


He means the contemporary image and tradition of a fat, jolly Santa Claus visiting houses on Christmas Eve, going down chimneys, and leaving presents for kids. This is a relatively recent development in the US and even more so for Europe. It only became popular in Europe after WWII, and in the US in the 20th century.

ogunsiron said...

@ben tillman :
Mr Greenberg probably thinks of us as dull, donkey like goyische kopfer whose traditions are that "judaism smashes because they aren't true", as Mr Greenberg's cousin Douglas Rushkoff glibly admits in a few youtube videos.

I wonder what Mr Greenberg would say if, say, Greeks found Hannukkah's anti-hellenism offensive and they asked jews not to celebrate it anymore. According to Mr Greenberg, a "civilized" jew would simply stop celebrating that holiday simply because it offends someone somewhere. Yeah. Right.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Grunberg, why don't you go tell your fellow Jews in Israel that YOUR JEWISH "national identity often boils down to distasteful folklore"?

Take the custom of eating "Haman's ears" on Purim for example. Purim is the Jewish celebration of the murder of the Persian prime minister, Haman, for supposedly plotting a conspiracy against the Jews. Haman was hanged along with all of his ten sons, and 75,000 Persians were allegedly slaughtered. But you're not complaining about THAT, do you? Instead, it's a harmless Dutch tradition that needs to be attacked because non-jews are not allowed to have a national identity. The late Lawrence Auster was right when he wrote that jews are the archetypal multiculturalists.

Willem said...

We DO celebrate christmas in the Netherlands on december 25, it's a national holiday. But traditionally Sinterklaas is the guy with the presents, and he's treating children on december 5. A spanish bishop who travels each year to Holland with a steamboat full of presents and funny black helpers, according to the folk tale.

And yeah, Grunberg isn't black, he's an ugly white/jewish/liberal writer of novels.

Hunsdon said...

David said: Tikkun Olam must be pushed into every crack.

Hunsdon said: Remember, kids, "Tikkun Olam" is Hebrew for Jihad.

staffanspersonalityblog said...

"Oh, sorry, check that. It turns out that the NYT did not find a black writer to be offended on behalf of blacks over this burning issue of international importance."

They are in much worse trouble now that Al Sharpton has commented on the knockout game (in the Huff Post),

"This behavior is racist, period."

Anonymous said...

it's obviously a racist leftover of times when there were no black people in the netherlands, and when there certainly was no new york times telling the dutch to tone down their racism.

Ironic though, that if you have this tradition for decades it becomes meaningful to people and even anti-racists will have trouble abandoning it if is associated with their own childhood and grandparents.

As for the "black through soot" thing— black pete is also child like, stupid and inferior to the white guy on the horse next to him. Good luck holding on to your traditions with increasing flows of immigrants and with the gazing eye of the new york times aiming down on you.

Anonymous said...

The Talmud depicts Christ as boiling in feces in hell and calls the virgin Mary a harlot who was knocked up by a roman soldier.
Much of jewish hatred of Christianity- which is rationalized by cultural marxism - is nothing more than a secularized version of talmudic hatred of Christianity.

They are getting more and more ballsy about it - last year the Hasidim boasted of celebrating nitel night - which is Christmas eve- it is the one night they don't pray or read the talmud, since their special prayers might save Christ from damnation.

5371 said...

The Netherlands, Germany and Finland have admitted proportionally fewer non-white immigrants during this century than other western European countries.

Mr. Anon said...

"Which once again goes to prove that national identity often boils down to distasteful folklore."

Distasteful folklore? Isn't that essentially what the Torah is?

My guess is that it isn't "Black Pete" that offendeth Mr. Grunberg so much as the celebration of Christmas itself.

ben tillman said...

A civilized person, after all, could say: “Personally, I don’t have much of a problem with Black Pete, but if others do, well, then, why don’t we make him Green Pete or Blue Pete?”

Or a civilized person could say, "I don't much like Black Pete, but, if others do, why not let them have their fun?"

Apparently, tolerance is a one-way street.

Anonymous said...

This year Sinterklaas's helper "Zwarte Piet" has been heavily protested by white liberals & black activists. Jews weren't really a factor. Some of these black activists are heavily influenced by American black studies & antiracist narratives. They copy their ideas 101.

These activists will succeed, b/c they choose their allies wisely. Looking at the US, I know ZP will go the way of Gollywop dolls. ZP will end up being a hammer for these ppl in 10 years when ZP is abolished almost everywhere. The story will be that we indoctrinated children with racism from a very young age. They will hound every village to see if there have been ZP sightings. The pressure has been enormous this year, you could hardly call it a Holiday anymore. It was a case study in what PC does & how it works. Sinterklaas, a children's fest, is another victim of multiculturaist ideology.

For some reason the Dutch people stood up for their folklore (FB petitions/demonstrations), but I doubt it will help, b/c political/media elites already changed camps out of fear of international disrepute.

Silver said...

Ho boy, you have to marvel at the punitively exacting moral standards they hold other peoples to while giving themselves a free pass in... everything.

Erik L said...

I've always wondered why black people wouldn't like Black Pete. He's the only black character in any Christmas tradition. Is it because he works for Santa? He's not a slave, is he?

rob said...

Anonymous said...
This year Sinterklaas's helper "Zwarte Piet" has been heavily protested by white liberals & black activists. Jews weren't really a factor. Some of these black activists are heavily influenced by American black studies & antiracist narratives. They copy their ideas 101.


heeheehee. Totes. "Black activists and white liberals" sounds quite a bit like the Scotch-Irish: not very subtle dog-whistling.

As for the "black through soot" thing— black pete is also child like, stupid and inferior to the white guy on the horse next to him. Good luck holding on to your traditions with increasing flows of immigrants and with the gazing eye of the new york times aiming down on you.

Ah. I can certainly see how the immigrants from stupid, child-like cultures would resent a symbol showing someone like that at least being grateful and helpful to the society that took him in.

The Dutch need to rebrand Black Pete. He's a reminder of the horrors of coal-burning. Practically Captain Planet.

Anonymous said...

The real story: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12116/12116-h/12116-h.htm#The_Story_of_the_Inky_Boys.

Agrippa is "der große Nikolas" in the original, aka Saint Nicholas = Sinterklaas. He's an obvious anti-racist.

Anonymous said...

By “them” people mean the United Nations and “unnatural” Dutch citizens, by both birth and naturalization, who want to put an end to this admittedly dubious tradition.

This is the part that I find exasperating. If indeed there is tension between ethnic Dutch and "unnatural" Dutch citizens, then maybe that's a very good reason for those "unnatural" Dutchmen to not attempt to overturn the traditions of the ethnic Dutch.

Schematically speaking, a person of immigrant stock can deal with his ethnic exceptionality in one of two ways: undermine the dominant host culture or assimilate to it. Those two strategies are the only logical endpoints to resolving ethnic diversity in a society. The latter depends on a certain amount of good faith from the host population, but the former amounts to a declaration of war.

I'm the son of an immigrant, and it is for precisely that reason that I feel it's incumbent upon me to be especially loyal to the nation, its demographics, and its heritage. To embrace the "Proposition Nation" view of America, Holland, or any other organic community would be an act of aggression by default, justifying some form of retaliation.

With respect to the Jews in particular, this is all an unfolding tragedy. You can just imagine the Arnon Grunberg types thinking, "We must abolish Dutch identity because embracing German identity wasn't enough to save our people before." True, but then again nobody's a Nazi in 2013.

Indeed, the sort of establishment attitude that holds Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, etc. to be "extreme right wing" is guaranteed to produce an overt demographic and cultural showdown down the road that will be disastrous for everyone.

One could put it this way: to attack and dissolve national identity like this must naturally end with the decisive defeat of the nation or its opponents--probably both.

None of that has to happen, but that's the course we're on. Such a shame.

Anonymous said...

"Which once again goes to prove that national identity often boils down to distasteful folklore.

Arnon Grunberg is the author of the novels “The Jewish Messiah” and “Tirza.”"

In the context those last two paragraphs being adjacent is pretty funny.

Anonymous said...

"With respect to the Jews in particular, this is all an unfolding tragedy."

They've been selecting for paranoia for centuries and it's become self-fulfilling.

Anonymous said...

maybe this will help clear it up:
A new book, Joshua Eli Plaut’s A Kosher Christmas: ’Tis the Season to Be Jewish, documents what we have known all along: The Jews did indeed subvert Christmas. This book deserves a full review, but Ethan Schwartz’s summary and comment (“Twas the night after Christmas“) deserve scrutiny. First the summary:

Jews have been the vanguard of an effort to “transform Christmastime into a holiday season belonging to all Americans,” without religious exclusivity. The most important Jewish mechanisms of secularization are comedy and parody, for laughter undermines religious awe. Take, for example, Hanukkah Harry from “Saturday Night Live”, who heroically steps in for a bedridden Santa by delivering presents from a cart pulled by donkeys named Moishe, Hershel, and Shlomo. Remarkably, Hanukkah Harry has emerged as a real Santa-alternative for many American Jews. Plaut sees such things not as attempts at assimilation but as an intentional subversion of Christmas traditions. “Through these parodies,” he writes, “Jews could envision not having to be captivated by the allure of ubiquitous Christmas symbols.” And it isn’t just Jews: for Americans in general, Jewish parody helps ensure that Christmas “not be taken too seriously” and that the celebrations of other traditions “be accorded equal respect and opportunity.”

the late Howard Nemerov said...

He's the only black character in any Christmas tradition.

Balthasar, of the three magi from the East, is often depicted with dark skin and African features, though like everything in this subject area there's a great deal of insoluble historical dispute. And of course, it's questionable how much he has to do with Christmas, much more what Christmas has to do with the winter solstice, etc. etc. NPR All-Things-Considered.

stay classy, blogosphere said...

I love how the Dutch comment writer throws in that the editorialist, additionally to being stupid, is ugly too...

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 2:28 PM said:
They've been selecting for paranoia for centuries and it's become self-fulfilling.

Hunsdon said: Having missed the Messiah, they have fallen for every other messianic movement to come along.

reiner Tor said...

I love how the Dutch comment writer throws in that the editorialist, additionally to being stupid, is ugly too...

Yeah, a Dutch guy commenting here mentioned that Grunberg was ugly (a question of tastes, I'm not into guys so I don't really know about that, but he doesn't seem to me particularly ugly), so this means that the Dutch should immediately stop this Black Pete whatever.

Unknown said...

Grunberg is a total moron. Santa Claus *IS* St. Nicholas fer chrissakes!

Unknown said...

And the English language Christmas song "Jolly Old St. Nicholas"dates back to at least 1860 if not earlier.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've got an idea. If blacks are offended by black Pete, then how about they just leave the Netherlands, and return to whatever crappy third world country they came from?

I'm sure the Dutch people will be able to get along just fine without them...

what's Dutch for "thin-skinned" said...

so this means that the Dutch should immediately stop this Black Pete whatever

I doubt Grunberg gives a crap about Zwartpiet, he seems such an autistic ethno-obsessive he probably didn't even know what it was till the International Brotherhood of Indignant Activists Local 438 gave him the idea for the cheap easy op-ed. Meanwhile you're the one trying to out-whine the grievancemongers, thus exciting them by the scent of your fear. If the sane majority had just laughed at the complainers from the start, instead of making up sooty origin stories and creating "Save Zwart Pete" societies, you and your silly black elf character wouldn't be on defense.