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Going Dutch on Immigration

From the foreign desk in yesterday's Chicago Tribune comes this report on the packet of material now being distributed by the Dutch government as part of a new citizenship test aimed at warning certain ethnic and religious groups about, how shall we say, the liberalness of Dutch society:

It features a DVD that illustrates various aspects of Dutch life, including, most notably, a topless woman frolicking in the surf and two men kissing warmly. The message couldn't be more explicit: This is who we are; if you don't accept it, don't come. [snip]

"It's like the warning label on the cigarette packs," said Marco Pastors, a Rotterdam city councilman whose Leefbaar Rotterdam Party has been labeled anti-Muslim for its support of strict immigration controls.

"It's not very subtle, but it prepares people for what they will find in this country," he said. "If you want to live here, you have to accept that girls are allowed to wear miniskirts and can stay out until 3 in the morning. You don't have to behave this way yourself, but you have to tolerate it." [snip]

In addition to the brief scenes of nudity and homosexuality, the 104-minute DVD warns prospective immigrants that the weather in the Netherlands is cold, housing is expensive and the country is flood-prone. It also informs them that honor killing, wife-beating and female circumcision are crimes.

How's that for a subtle hint? It's interesting to watch both Europe and the United States convulse over immigration. Everyone thought that globalization was going to be the dominant issue of the first decade of the 21st century - and it has indeed been near the top of the list along with terrorism. But immigration has proven to be much more of a global sticky wicket than many had imagined because of its deep impact on a country's culture and security as well as its economy.