Opinion: Love and understanding

POSTED: 06/15/12 12:32 PM

The Dutch are masters in taking the Mickey out of others. In Rotterdam they joke about people in Amsterdam and vice versa, in Limburg people joke about their fellow-countrymen in Holland and about everyone is ready to make jokes about the people in Friesland – if only because they speak funny, though the Frisians maintain (correctly) that their incomprehensible lingo is a protected minority language.

Cross-border jokes (the good-natured ones) have been directed at the Belgians for decades. For more nasty jokes, the Dutch have always used the Germans as their target. Up to this day there are still people in the Netherlands who use references to the Second World War to express their disdain for the Germans – even though Germany is the biggest country’s biggest trade-partner and also in the top of holiday destinations.

And now the Germans have turned the tables on the Dutch, supported by their national team’s most recent beating of those darn Hollanders.

The correspondent for the Volkskrant in Berlin, Merlijn Schoonenboom, got a taste of it this week. She noted yesterday that she had been treated all year very friendly by Berliners but once the European soccer championship started, the Dutch-jokes also began.

Schoonenboom was on the terrace of a neighborhood pub watching the Germany-Holland clash when a German suddenly noted her accent and shouted something like, he, there is a Dutchwoman here. The journalist notes that the Germans did not become aggressive. Instead, she says, they seemed to enjoy the match even more.

She was met with broad smiles and with jokes about overloaded Dutch caravans, about Dutch weed and about Arjen Robben, the Dutch soccer star who blew the champions League final for Bayer Munich by missing a crucial penalty.

The German media have a long and solid memory. Nobody has forgotten how Dutch soccer star Frank Rijkaard spit at Rudi Völler during another Holland-Germany clash in 1988. “You know why we are winning?” one newspaper quipped. “Because you don’t win at soccer with spitting.”

While Schoonenboom made a serious attempt to remain impartial (by celebrating the German goals as well as the lone Dutch goal), her friends corrected her quickly. You have to play along,” they said. “We need an opponent here.”

That remarked led to some understanding. The Dutch play a role in soccer that is not possible for the Poles, the French, the Danes or all those other neighbors. The Dutch are able to take a joke as well as dishing one, Schoonenboom realized.

Jokes about the Poles would immediately lead to riots. Jokes about the French would lead to a euro crisis and about the Danes nobody has an opinion. At least that’s what Schoonenboom wrote, apparently unaware of the joke those same Danes played on the Germans in 1992 by knocking them out of the European championship tournament.

Schoonenboom’s German friends were sympathetic after the defeat: was she crying already? they wanted to know. Did she already have an argument with her German lover? Do they model the Dutch defense on that cheese with holes in it?

The journalist demurely played her part by saying that the defeat weighed heavy on her and that the Germans had punished her team. That made her German friends happy, she noted, and they immediately started to apologize by saying that they actually appreciate the Dutch very much.

Imagine such an encounter between rivaling neighborhood gangs in St. Maarten, The model is there, and if it works between Dutch and – of all people – Germans, there is no reason why it could not work here. After all, we are all human beings and we all have the same basic desires. If we mange to put love, friendship and understanding a bit higher on our agendas the island would immediately become a better place.

Did you like this? Share it:
Opinion: Love and understanding by

Comments are closed.