On Saturday evening, the Netherlands suddenly became a much less cool country than we always thought ourselves. The Dutch national team was embarrassed in Montenegro (where is that again?), and Leeuwarden and Breda showed what will remain of the Netherlands if the other cities follow their example: a mess.
I watched Montenegro–Netherlands at a birthday party between (vaccinated) people who were hardly interested in the outcome. That teaches you to put things into perspective. I looked with a shrug at the mess, both by the players and the coach, Louis van Gaal, also often praised by me. Even he – and that’s saying something – was speechless afterwards: “It is inexplicable to me.” After which he resorted to vague terms like ‘concentration’ and ‘focus’.
I missed the word ‘overestimation’. We are very good at that in the Netherlands. A few reasonable matches from ‘Orange’ and everyone, the media first, is howling about an approaching world title. We forget that we don’t have enough quality to become world champions, maybe even to participate in the world championship. Yet I still believe that the Netherlands should at least be able to draw at home against a mediocre football country like Norway. But perhaps this points to the annoying possibility that I too am not free from that overestimation.
In any case, we don’t have to worry that Van Gaal will again ‘change’ as much as against Montenegro. He implicitly blamed his players (“Functions not performed as agreed”), but we’re not falling for that, Louis! It was you who, with all kinds of changes, completely took the balance away from a team that was already in poor shape.
Grass over it.
We have to move on to the self overestimation in some Dutch cities. First we had mayor Halsema who only wanted to enforce in Amsterdam in case of excesses. Then there was a mayor in Den Bosch who did not want to prevent the arrival of 25,000 carnival-goers on 11 November. The mayor of Breda, Paul Depla, went one step further by explicitly allowing the catering industry in his city to remain open on Saturday evenings. In Leeuwarden, where mayor Buma was strict with the catering industry, the riot police had to act against rioters.
Mayors who are not so careful with measures taken by the government, citizens who violently resist them – it is an ideal breeding ground for ruthless politicians, as Thierry Baudet wrote on Sunday, referring to a newsletter from Maurice de Hond: “ He is so right: the current situation can be compared to the 1930s and 1940s. The unvaccinated (sic) are the new Jews and the ignorant exclusions are the new Nazis and NSB members. There, I said it.”
De Hond did not use the swear words that Baudet so eagerly writes here in his newsletter. De Hond did, however, make the dubious comparison with the situation of the Jews in WWII, thereby trivializing the suffering of those Jews without realizing it.
As a new Nazi and NSB member, I am very skeptical about unvaccinated people and the populist politicians who stand up for them uncritically. To express it in my new language: sei vorsichtig mit diesen Leuten.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of November 15, 2021