I was reading recently about a new DVD the Dutch are issuing to potential immigrants (as part of an entrance exam) to give an insight into Dutch life. This way immigrants can see if Holland is really a place they would like to live.
It’s easy to see that the DVD is obviously targeted at countries where the cultural norm is not similar to that of the Dutch, hence countries that do have similar values are exempt from receiving it.
The DVD contains a two hour long film and includes some interesting scenes. One is a scene of an attractive woman sunbathing topless with narration saying, “People do not make a fuss about nudity.” Another scene explains that homosexuals have the same rights as heterosexuals, with an accompanying scene of two men kissing in a meadow. Why are they in a meadow? Perhaps homosexuality in a field seems more acceptable than men kissing at a bar or in the comfort of their own home. Anyway, that’s not really the point.
Not surprisingly, people are suggesting that the DVD is deliberately discouraging immigrants from Islamic countries. Abdou Menebhi, of Emcemo, a Moroccan interest group in Amsterdam, suggests that the DVD is not education, but provocation. Dutch officials deny that the film is targeted at discouraging Muslim immigrants, yet insist that they want all applicants to consider whether or not they would fit into a culture as permissive as theirs.
They have a point. And targeting countries with known aversions to their way of life is quite reasonable.
If you don’t enjoy looking at naked women (or, at least, if your religion suggests that you’re not allowed to enjoy looking at naked women) then why would you ever consider moving to a country where naked women are quite common. Similarly, if you really did enjoy looking at naked women (or naked men for that matter) and you had no religious doctrine to suppress that desire, would you ever consider moving somewhere that insists women stay indoors dressed in a sack? Of course not. You certainly wouldn’t move there and then make an enormous fuss about how offended you are. You would be asked, quite reasonably, why the hell you moved there in the first place.
If you don’t want to see men kissing in meadows you can either avoid meadows, or avoid countries where men kissing is accepted as normal. After all, avoiding meadows is no guarantee of avoiding men locked in loving embraces.
I think the Dutch are being quite fair and honest in their approach. They are simply saying, “This is how it is here. If you don’t like it, don’t come.” If I had a religious, cultural or personal aversion to snow I wouldn’t move to Greenland and then complain that my cultural sensibilities are being insulted every winter.
And this got me thinking. Maybe all countries should make one of these DVD’s for potential immigrants. I’m an immigrant myself, and I moved to Australia fully aware of the culture and lifestyle. I moved here because of it.
So, let’s have DVD’s from all countries giving a run-down of what to expect. Britain could issue a DVD warning people not to expect any kind of recognisable cuisine or sunshine. Australia’s DVD should ensure that people realise they will be required to select a football code as their primary religion and string entire sentences together into one long word. New Zealand could warn people of their special relationship with sheep. Japan could point out that 60 hours is the minimum working week and showing any emotion in public is forbidden. America’s DVD should inform people that they are moving into an evangelical fundamentalist Christian dictatorship. And so on and so forth.
And every permissive, progressive country should include the topless sunbather and male meadow love scenes along with anything else they deem relevant. This will ensure that anyone who considers that women are not allowed to express themselves or that people of a different sexuality should be vilified can stay where they are or go somewhere else with a medieval worldview.
After all, it is ridiculous to go to Greenland in winter and complain about the snow.