Christmas chestnuts

Christmas has obviously come early this year. No, this is not about the government’s pledge that all of us will have more to spend next year but about the annual Zwarte Piet debate.

The Abbe museum in Eindhoven is currently staging a show called Be(coming) Dutch which aims to get people thinking about nationality and race. And part of that was to be a performance about Piet – a staged protest march against St Nicholas’s helper.
But nothing is more guaranteed to raise the hackles of Dutch traditionalists than criticism of Zwarte Piet – whom they see as an essential part of Dutch culture.
Prime ministerial hopeful Rita Verdonk refers to attacks on Piet in every speech she makes about how foreigners are trying to take over.
After numerous threats against the museum from the pro-Piet lobby, it has now pulled the plug. The risk of violence was just too great.
Freedom of expression is a hot topic in the Netherlands at the moment and this is just the latest example of something controversial being withdrawn after threats of violence.
Doubtless, the champions of free speech – Verdonk, Geert Wilders and all their mates – will be rushing to condemn this latest example of art being censored. But perhaps not. After all, they can’t exactly blame the Muslims for it, can they?
Where are the freedom of speech protesters? asks Sidelines
Is Zwarte Piet a racist tradition? To take part in our poll, click here

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