Category Archives: Holland

Finally Going to the Aldi!

20171216_224158The Aldi store has come to Austin, Texas! Or rather, to Pflugerville, but that’s close enough. When I read that it was coming I was thrilled, because on the Dutch International Cookbook/Kookboek Facebook page I regularly see posts by folks elsewhere in America and Canada showing photos of their Dutch and German finds in Aldis. Now it’s here, so today I decided to include a trip to Pflugerville in my list of errands. Continue reading

Zwarte Piet : Putting Him Into Perspective, Again!

zwarte piet again

Image: cnn.com

So let me get this straight:

Sinterklaas can still be Sinterklaas.
He and his Pieten can still arrive in Amsterdam on the steamboat.
They can still have all the processions through cities and towns.
People can still come out to welcome them.
Kids can still wave at Sinterklaas and give the Pieten their drawings.
The Pieten can still wear the same costumes.
They can still hand out candy.
Everyone can still eat pepernoten,
and taai-taai,
and marzipan,
and kruidnoten,
and suikerbeesten,
and amandelstaven,
and chocolate letters,
and speculaas poppen
and drink hot chocolate.
Everyone can still sing Sinterklaas songs.
You can still have Book Piet, Organizer Piet, Grumpy Piet and what have you Piet (a relatively new phenomenon).
Everyone can still buy Sinterklaas and Piet dolls at Xenos (also relatively new).
Kids and adults can still place their shoes at home on Sinterklaas Eve.
Kids and adults can even place their shoes at school, at work, on the street and in the bars (again, new).
People can still exchange gifts.
Children can still make surprises.
A good time can still be had by all.

The only thing that would change is the color of Piet’s face and hair.
And this is how you react?

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(Welcome to the Netherlands, where all cultures are accepted except our own.)

Have you all lost your mother-loving minds?

My original series on the whole Zwarte Piet issue starts here.

The Zwarte Piet Debacle From the Outside, Again

zwarte clownOkay, it’s the end of November and that means that Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is arriving in the Netherlands, with his helpers, who have traditionally been all called Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). The Zwarte Pieten are traditionally white people with blackface. People of color in the Netherlands have gradually become vocal about not liking that and the Dutch reaction is incredibly embarrassing to me. Continue reading

Fascism in America 6: Authoritarianism

15-donald-trump-salute.w529.h352

Image: nymag.com

Authoritarianism: favoring blind submission to authorities, favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people. So no labor unions, no strikes, power lies with corporations, police, government.

In the last post in this series I gave a short history of the police in the Netherlands, and of the basic police training when I was the librarian at one of the police training schools from 1984 to 1992. That should help to put what I have to say about the police in America and American authoritarianism in general in context. Continue reading

Fascism in America 5: A Little Detour to the Dutch Police

amsterdam rellen 1966

Image: anp-archief.nl

At first this post was going to be about authoritarianism. It is, but only in the Netherlands. When I write the next post about authoritarianism in America, a lot of it will deal with the police, and before discussing that, it’s important for you to know where I’m coming from. So, first a brief history lesson and a tour of my first workplace as a librarian. Continue reading

Fascism in America 4: Symbols and Rituals

trump hugging flag

Image: redditt.com

In the previous posts in this series I circled around fascism, addressing elements of American society that are at least nationalist, but the line between nationalism and fascism is blurry, and now we’re getting there. Continue reading

Fascism in America 1: Introduction

charlottesville fascism

Image: aljazeera.com

I was invited to speak at a meeting of an anti-fascist group today, specifically to give my insight from a Dutch perspective, as my country was occupied by the Germans during World War Two. Continue reading