We posted earlier this month on the new “scum villages” proposed by the Dutch authorities as housing for antisocial elements. The projects are to be built using retired shipping containers, and will allow undesirables to be segregated and kept away from more well-behaved citizens.
The following report from Der Tagesspiegel points out that the “scum villages” are being implemented by a left-wing coalition in the municipal government of Amsterdam, with no help from Geert Wilders or other right-wingers. The champions of tolerance are planning to segregate the intolerant to make life more bearable for the tolerant burghers of Amsterdam.
Many thanks to Hermes for the translation:
Amsterdam: No tolerance for the enemies of tolerance
Foreigners look on in astonishment at Amsterdam. How can a city which appreciates personal freedoms like few others forge such plans? As reported, in the future Amsterdam wants to forcibly resettle in separate container villages persons who repeatedly harass gays, immigrants or other people. Once there, they would be rehabilitated by social workers and police officers over a period of six months, and after this period they would be allowed to return to their homes.
The project is set to begin next year. The City Council, which is composed of Social Democrats, liberals and Leftists-Greens, is currently looking for accommodations in caravans or containers.
Discarding people in container settlements without their having been convicted? Sounds unusual on the part of Social Democrats, Greens and Leftists; such concepts are known to be those of the political right. It is understandable from this that the repression is primarily directed against the enemies of tolerance, homophobes and xenophobes who poison the environment.
Efforts are made by the city government to add nuances after the headline-grabbing media reports abroad. Tahira Limon, spokeswoman for the city administration, emphasizes that the project is directed only to the most serious cases, the number of which lie at an average of seven to ten a year. “Antisocial behaviors such as urinating in public places is not sufficient for this. It’s about systematic and specific intimidation of other people.”
Examples? A lesbian couple who is being bullied over a long period. A youngster who testifies in court against a neighbour, and whose family is then exposed to a daily gauntlet. Amsterdam — says Tahira Limon — wants to stand for the victim, who in the past often had to bear the consequences and had to look for a new home. And as Mayor Eberhard van der Laan says, that was a “world turned upside down”.
The project, which in the Netherlands is colloquially dubbed as “Aso-villages”, will be made possible through an administrative stipulation. In order to maintain the public order, the administrative law allows the mayor to relocate citizens. In this way, state legislation does not have to be altered; the decision lies within the local community as well as local heads of the police and the prosecutor’s office. In this case they receive support from the Amsterdam housing corporations. But this concept must apply also to the free sector and homeowners.
For many Dutch people, this concept sounds familiar. It was not long ago that the controversial right-wing populist Geert Wilders suggested that people who repeatedly cause trouble within their environment should be accommodated in separate settlements. His motto was: “(Carry) the scum away from the neighbourhood”, to which the outcry was immediate and fitted to Wilders’ dramatic rhetoric.
So now a socialist mayor introduces via the back door what the right-wing populists could never have introduced themselves with their tendency to administer justice? In Amsterdam City Hall reassurances were made that the container flats would not be concentrated in a single place, but they would be scattered in smaller units. But the problem is: will this remain so?
The inner core of the concept — fighting against serious and continued intimidation — is clearly defined, the spokesperson says, while the target group pointed out by Wilders was obscurely defined as “antisocial persistent offenders”.
What connects the two proposals is the completely new Dutch debate on security, in which they fit together smoothly despite their differences. In recent years there has been a significant shift here, according to which the demand for a strong hand on the part of justice, police and local authorities has become mainstream.
The debate is much more characterized by the term “harassment” than by “criminality”. In this debate it is often the subjective feeling of security what is decisive instead of objectively measurable criteria such as the crime statistics.
The tolerant society has become sensitive. It’s no longer about crime, which is an issue of rights. It’s about the right to feel comfortable in your own town, the right not to be disturbed or bothered by others.
An example from the recent past depicts this appropriately. Some time ago, the Dutch police started a poster campaign soliciting trainees. One of the posters showed a group of young males standing in a supposedly typical pose on a playground or squatting in a courtyard on their mopeds, with the peak of their baseball caps pulled over their faces, thus covering their eyes. The text summarized the new situation of the citizens’ feelings: “Can you explain why inaction causes also harassment?”
In Amsterdam, what falls under the heading of “harassment” is illustrated by two statements that the newspaper Het Parool presented to its readers on its website for a vote. In the summer of 2011, a clear majority expressed themselves in favour of putting an end to the barbecues being organized in the most popular park of the city. Last time 85% agreed that the districts should maintain separate lists for “young criminals”.
Harassment is thus in this debate everything ranging from the severe cases pointed out by the mayor of Amsterdam, to the so-called “hangjongeren”, that is, “young people hanging around”.
A cross-party consensus declared that intervention is needed against all types of harassment. When the current Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is a member of the Liberal Party, was re-elected in September, he was celebrated by his supporters on a stage whose background showed the slogan “More blue (police) on the streets instead of sitting in the office.”
Essentially, it is not only the assumption that the police are chronically understaffed, but also the conclusion that the citizens should stand on their side and help them. In this regard, the project “Burgernet” — “Citizens’ Network” is a success story. This is a project in which the residents of a district can register at their corresponding police station. Immediately after a crime takes place, or a person goes missing, they are then contacted by phone and are given a physical description. They are immediately supposed to report their observations to the police until they officially end the search operation.
The economic aspects of this project have nothing to do with the former indirect involvement of right-wing populists in the government, as was the case until last spring. Rather, the introduction of the local Burgernet-cooperation system composed of citizens, police and local authorities with as far as possible a nationwide scope, was completely decided without the influence of Wilders’ disciples. Even the current, social-liberal coalition sticks to this run-up. Meanwhile, more than 94 percent of all Dutch municipalities are involved.
It seems that the very tolerant Amsterdam, the tolerant Netherlands plays a pioneering role in a new dimension of repression. The segregation of aggressive people in such a way that no criminal law framework is required.
This raises an unpleasant question. Are those in the tolerant milieu seeking harmony in diversity so sensitive that while they actually oppose repression, they create new “advanced forms” of repression?