Lunch conversation lessons for Mr. Wilders

It had to come up of course, preferably when you’re enjoying your lunch and are thinking about how to start off the next session: ‘So tell me who is this new extremist Prime-Minister of yours that they have arrested?’ My first thought: Oops did I miss something? Did in the few days that I had left the Netherlands something change even more dramatic then recently had in our political landscape? After chewing on my salad just that bit longer I came to the conclusion, that this was probably one of those nice: what-you-hear-from-another- country-in-the-media-is-usually-not-very-accurate things. My lunch date had just put the trial against parliamentarian (and leader of his Party for Freedom) Mr. Wilders on discrimination charges for comparing the Quran with Mein Kampf and the forming of our new government under one heading. Like I am sure I have done with issues of other countries. Good thing that he asked, at least I got a chance to explain that not every Dutch is a big fan of this man. More importantly, that he is not really in the government, but ‘supporting’ the new alliance of the Liberals and the Christian Democrats so they have a majority vote in parliament for most of the proposed measures in the new government agreement. To be honest, it felt like crap having to explain it that way and you can imagine the look on my lunch date’s faces. Support the government, but not really in the government, so officially he could also be opposition? Right.

 

The logical follow on question for the conversation to continue: Why would people vote for this man? My next explanation attempt was the usual ‘he’s using scare tactics, addressing people’s fears about terrorism, Islam, migrants etc.’ Not really convincing either, and all they commented was, ‘like migrants get any of the real jobs, they only take the jobs that nobody else wants to do.’

 

I did not argue with that. To prove Mr. Wilders even more wrong on the amount of money he wants to cut on foreign aid, I wish he and his new government companions (one of whom used to be champion himself on human rights issues as minister of foreign affairs) had listened in on the lunch conversation I had today. This time a different topic, starting out with the size of a hotel room in Copenhagen. One of my table ladies commented on how small and extremely expensive the room had been, not even offering an LCD TV screen. We were all laughing. She concluded you were much better off here in Uganda in the hotels for the same or even lower prices and could live an absolute wonderful life. I totally agreed and confirmed the terrible prices you paid for a hotel room in Amsterdam and that you do not exactly get the same amount of space for a house either. It reminded the same lady of an episode of Oprah (no country I pass through without talking about Oprah) where Oprah visited different countries and looked at people’s houses. She had been in a house in Denmark and went into their (I presume) Ikea furnished kitchen. Oprah could touch both sides of the walls at the same time while stretching her arms. I started to laugh and said: ‘That’s exactly like my kitchen!’ We laughed some more, before the following conclusion came by my lunch date: ‘You know, if we just had all the health services, jobs etc. in place, no one would move. We have the space to live, the food and the perfect weather. We would probably be the country that people would migrate to!’

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