A question of belonging

The reaction to justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin’s suggestion that the word ‘allochtoon’ be eradicated was sadly to be expected.

The word – which literally means ‘non-native’ but has come to be purely associated with non-western immigrants – was divisive and polarising and should go, Hirsch Ballin said.
Rarely has a ministerial suggestion been shot down in flames quite so quickly. The word, said some MPs, is just too well-established to be eliminated. Others did their usual rants about political correctness.
But all of them missed the point. It might be a handy word for the establishment, but most of the people to whom it is applied don’t like it.
After all, if you are not 100% white, you are branded a non-native no matter how many generations back you can trace your Dutch ancestry.
The results of today’s survey by the Intelligence Group are a further sign about how the word is influencing Holland’s ethnic minorities. Simply put, people with a north African, Suriname or Antillian background are feeling increasingly foreign and less and less Dutch. All those integration efforts have having opposite effect.
Does the word ‘allochtoon’ play a part in this? Of course it does. The logic is very simple. If you keep on telling people they don’t belong, they will soon start believing you.

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