Xenophobe's Guide to the Dutch
by Rodney Bolt
It's all in your mind
The spirit of tolerance does constant battle with the ghost of Calvin for control of the Dutch psyche. Few Dutch people go to church anymore, but they don't need to. Inside every Hollander's head is a little pulpit containing a preacher with a wagging finger.
This is the nation that once sold scrapers for getting the last remnants of the film of buttermilk from the inside of the bottle. The Dutch "think with their pockets." Parsimony is not an embarrassment, but a virtue.
The Dutch are cultural magpies. They keep a beady eye on other people's cultural trends, and are swift to snap up sparkling new fashions. This means that rather than producing an indigenous culture, they have become voracious consumers of everybody else's-true Europeans, whose cultural fads and fancies know no borders. The Netherlands acts as a giant cultural sponge.
For the Dutch, the other side of the question is as important as the question itself. Dialogue is the lubricant of tolerance, and the essential ingredient of dialogue is "Yes, but . . ."
- Oval Books, July 2008
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