Racism a "daily reality" for many in NL, Health Minister says
For many people in the Netherlands, racism is still a "daily reality", CDA Public Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said in the annual Abel Herzberg lecture. It is a problem that we have to "pull up like weeds over and over again," De Jonge said, De Telegraaf reports.
The CDA Minister referred to the work of the lecture's namesake, Abel Herzberg, who wrote multiple stories about the persecution of Jewish people in the Second World War, and his own time in various concentration camps. "It would be great if we could say to each other today that anti-Semitism and racism belonged to the dark past. That we had eradicated it root and branch after 1945. But nothing is less true."
According to De Jonge, racism is still present in the Netherlands, despite people's good intentions. "I honestly do not believe that there are large groups of Dutch people who consciously express themselves as racist, or who approve of racism. But that is no reason to think that it is not so bad. It isn't not so bad." He referred to the Black Lives Matter protests over the world in June, calling them "a valid call for recognition".
De Jonge also looked back on the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, and the insecurities he faced as Minister of Public Health. "We all have had those insecurities - I felt them too. I want to have a grip, keep control in my work. Get ahead of things, anticipate things, make the decision when you can oversee its impact. But that was not possible during those first months of corona."
According to De Jonge, the criticism of his work did not leave him unaffected. He received a lot of insults, with people calling him "mass murderer", "Hugo Hitler", "vaccinazi", among other things. He does not want to write these people off, but rather reach out, he said. "Most hatred is projection of a sense of denial, injustice, fear."
Reaching out is also what De Jonge, as new CDA leader in the upcoming parliamentary elections, wants his party to do. He wants his party, which is characterized by its right and left flank, to continue to seek "the middle". According to him, the solution to most problems lies in "a strong society".