Wednesday, March 2, 2016 - 14:05
PVV mocked for bill making Zwarte Piet blackface mandatory
The Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, nearly unanimously rejected the PVV's legislative proposal to make blackface makeup for Zwarte Piet mandatory. Many parties did so rather mockingly. The SP, for example, wanted to know why the PVV did not get Sinterklaas' advice on their bill, Joop reports. The SGP admitted that they did not have time to do extensive research into the history of Zwarte Piet in all parts of the Netherlands, but is willing to give the PVV the benefit of the doubt and believe they did extensive research about "how this celebration happened exactly since 1850 in different places in the Netherlands." The party also has some questions for the PVV. Members of the SGP faction noticed that during the Sinterklaas celebration in Amsterdam in 1920, Zwarte Piet had a white feather instead of a colored one and was not wearing knickerbockers. The SGP wants to know if this is allowed. The proposal argues that Zwarte Piet is black as soot and not black because of soot, so Piet must have a black or dark brown face and red painted lips. "Does this mean that the figure of Zwarte Piet should also not be painted black? Should it be a natural color?" The PvdA stated that Zwarte Piet is "folk culture of the people, it will be kept alive by the people" and can change if they want it to. "The mandatory imposition from above on how a festival should be celebrated, these members only know this from totalitarian regimes and it does not belong to a country where freedom is paramount." The VVD was nicer about it. The party finds wanting to protect a tradition a "sympathetic goal, because it involves an old Dutch tradition". But setting it down in law is going too far, according to the VVD. "It is a tradition and traditions are not anchored in law." The D66 responded in writing, and in rhyme, that they are rejecting the law. The rhyme does not translate well into English, but it boils down to the D66 will not accept this law. The discussion on Zwarte Piet's appearance should take place in society and not in The Hague.