May 25th, 2006

Brad @ Burning Man

I am Curious: Can We Have an Immigration DVD Like the Dutch One?

Suppose you lived in the Netherlands, say in Amsterdam, one of the most socially and economically liberal cities in the entire world, and some guy from one of the Arab emirates with a wife and four kids at home said to you, "Look, I'm only here for the jobs. Life is rough where I'm from unless you're part of some royal family. There are no jobs, there's no money, and I can't feed my kids. I didn't come here for the legal marijuana or the decriminalized heroin or the ubiquitous pornography or the legal prostitution or the religious freedom or homosexual marriage or the unlicensed and uncensored newspapers or public nudist beaches and parks or because I like your Queen. I hate all of that stuff. I wish your country was just like mine, only with your money and jobs. And as soon as I get there and get settled in a job, I intend to do everything in my power to use your freedoms to campaign to make your country just like my country only with money and jobs. Who are you to tell me I'm wrong?"

Well, the Dutch government is saying, now, openly, that if you hate all those things so much that they make you angry, if it so deeply violates your personal principles that you can't even stand to look at it for a little under two hours if that's what it takes to feed your family? Stay home. And if you can't be bothered to learn a few dozen or a couple of hundred words of Dutch, stay home. The Dutch government, having had enough of Islamists recruiting anti-Netherlands radicals from among the multitude of economic refugees they've taken in, are putting their collective foot down. Now, unless you come from a country that they recognize as having a strong tradition of democracy and freedom (the USA squeaked in under the wire, apparently, or snuck in over the transom), before you can get a long-term visa to the Netherlands you have to pay about $75 for a two-hour government-produced DVD about Dutch society and values, available in your own language. It comes with a study guide to the video and to basic Dutch language. Whenever you're ready, you have to pay a testing fee of smidgen over $400 to take a very lengthy test on everything in the DVD and everything in the study guide, and if they can tell from your answers that you didn't watch the DVD and study the guide, you don't get in. Period. They're standing up for the principle that it's not a coincidence that societies like theirs are as poor as theirs. Good for them.

Ironically, it would be illegal to buy or sell the DVD in some counties in the United States, and the MPAA would rate it "R" -- people under 17 only admitted when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Why? Because while most of it is the kind of perfectly routine stuff that you'd get in a civics class anywhere in the free world, the sections on freedom of expression and freedom of the press include both partial and full frontal nudity, showing brief looks at nude recreation parks and legal printed pornography. The section on basic civil rights emphasizes that homosexuals have the right to marry in the Netherlands, and illustrates this with brief film footage of two men kissing. The Islamic and Arab-language press have been up in arms about this for weeks. They see it as a further slap in the face after the Jutlands Post cartoon controversy, the latest European insult added to that insult, which was itself only the latest in several centuries worth of European attacks on basic decent Islamic values. And, in fact, the most complete single English-language article I've found on the subject of the film was on, which says, "Dutch Immigration Test Islamophobic ." (Despite their obvious opinions, they do give the Dutch immigration minister's full statement on the subject -- which is more than the American press did.)

It'd be interesting to see what we'd come up with, what we'd say were the core governmental and societal concepts you have to understand and agree to put up with in order to get a long-term visa to the USA. Actually, what this government would come up with would probably be pretty depressing, considering that the current government wouldn't even admit to foreigners, officially and publicly, that our Constitution includes a guarantee of freedom of the press until liberal bloggers shamed them into including it. So no, I guess we can't have one. Shame. I'd like to force some of my fellow Americans to watch one.