Thursday, March 16, 2006

To the Netherlands

Via the NYTs:
This is not exactly a run-of-the-mill homework assignment: watch a film clip of an attractive woman sunbathing topless, and try not to be shocked.

"People do not make a fuss about nudity," the narrator explains.

That lesson, about the Netherlands' nude beaches, is followed by another: homosexuals have the same rights here as heterosexuals do, including the chance to marry.

Just to make sure everyone gets the message, two men are shown kissing in a meadow.

The scenes are brief parts of a two-hour-long film that the Dutch government has compiled to help potential immigrants, many of them from Islamic countries, meet the demands of a new entrance examination that went into effect on Wednesday. In the exam, candidates must prove they can speak some Dutch and are at least aware of the Netherlands' liberal values, even if they do not agree with all of them.
Naturally, there's been criticism:
Abdou Menebhi, chairman of Emcemo, a Moroccan interest group in Amsterdam, said the film was just another example of how the Netherlands was trying to limit immigration from Muslim countries.

"This isn't education, it's provocation," Mr. Menebhi said. "The new law has one goal: to stop the flow of immigrants, especially by Muslims from countries like Morocco and Turkey."
And he's right and all I can say is "So what!" This is quite honest and has the effect of a pre-immigration orientation. It's message: "If you think nudity and homosexuality is an abomination before some supernatural guy upstairs, then you may not want to emigrate here." Seriously, what's the problem? If you've built a bastion of liberal tolerance -- and yes I understand it's not that tolerant toward "Islamic beliefs" -- where even gays have marriage rights, I'm sure you'd want to maintain that cultural integrity.

To be honest, the only thing a devout Muslim should worry about when emigrating is if his/her destined society allows freedom of worship. If so, he/she should be able to look past a tit here or there or tolerant two dudes making out on a street corner.