Just back from Amsterdam, via the train, or two trains at least. The list of stations speeding by sounded like a drunken Scotsman’s tirade: Sloten, Dordrecht, Mechelen, Duffel, ya Delft bastard.
I was there for the magazine, to write a piece about an increase in anti-Semitism in the country and especially in Amsterdam itself. The authorities appear mystified why this should be so - but this seems to be the sort of genuflection to political correctness, and perhaps crowd control, with which you will be familiar over here. We all know who, in the main, is carrying out these attacks and by and large it ain’t Thijs, Jaap or Aalbert.
The Muslim presence in this dull, flat rectum of Europe – a crescent stretching from Metz, via Lille, Brussels, Antwerp and Rotterdam to Den Helder – has been talked up a bit, mind. Partly by extreme Muslim organizations who wish for a low countries caliphate here, and partly by the white right wingers who fear one. On both sides the numbers get exaggerated – I remember Mark Steyn explaining that the Muslim population of Rotterdam was now “forty per cent” and rising; it’s actually 13 per cent and rising. Only in Amsterdam itself does the Muslim population exceed 20 per cent, and a good few of those are wholly amenable Indonesians. Which is another point often lost when this fractious debate arises; liberals like me find it easy to blame Islam for the actions of its adherents, when race and culture might be equally, or even more, blameworthy. I remember one reasonably prominent Muslim chap muttering to me after a very agreeable night out: “Rod, you’ve got it wrong. It’s not Islam that’s the problem, it’s the f***ing Arabs.” But infractions of political correctness are measured by the layer, and race and culture lie a few layers deeper than ideology. Go down there at your peril.