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The Daily Wildcat

 

    RisquǸ film offensive to imigrants

    Janne Peronacolumnist
    Janne Perona
    columnist

    What is the Fourth of July? What is Congress? What is the Bill of Rights? What is the U.S. Capitol? Aside from basic U.S. history and government questions, these are four of 100 questions on the written exam to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. In addition to the exam, there are numerous forms to fill out, not to mention fees to pay. Now imagine being forced to watch clips from “”Saving Private Ryan”” and “”American Pie”” in addition to that.

    Seem a little strange? Not to the Dutch government.

    People wishing to immigrate to the Netherlands must now watch a fairly racy film that includes clips of two men kissing on a park bench and a topless woman walking on a beach. The 105-minute film is followed by a computerized exam on topics such as the number of Dutch provinces and Queen Beatrix’s monarchial functions.

    In a small country with exploding immigration, it’s obvious something needs to be done to address volatile culture clashes, but this is not the right answer. Requiring the risquǸ film is well-intentioned, but on top of the Netherlands’ already rigid immigration policy, it seems extreme.

    According to the Dutch government, the new policies, which went into effect last Wednesday, were designed to address out-of-control immigration. This concern peaked in November 2004, when Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered by a Dutch national of Moroccan descent.

    Immigration to Europe has been steadily increasing from areas like the Caribbean, India, Pakistan and northern Africa. Immigrants – predominantly Muslim – can sometimes feel isolated from the larger culture of their adopted home, as evidenced by the riots late last year in France.

    That means the problem is not a Dutch problem; it is a global problem. That includes America; when immigrants cannot get into European nations, you can bet they set sail across the Atlantic and land on our shores.

    The frustration of immigrants to Europe is primarily a response to the homogenous cultures of many European nations. They are decidedly Dutch, or French, or German. In contrast, the U.S., Canada and Australia are colonial states, populated entirely by immigrants, many of whom came within the last 100 years. While those nations may have core cultures, their heterogeneity makes it easier for foreigners to flourish.

    The Dutch perspective is understandable. The Dutch have a culture of their own – and it is a liberal one, even by European standards. With new immigrants coming largely from Muslim backgrounds, the government obviously wants to prevent problems similar to the French riots. But its new tactic is unduly harsh and offensive.

    Immigration is a problem for nearly every developed nation, though not every nation takes the same approach to it. In France, anyone can become “”French,”” since nationalization is essentially contractual. In Germany, you’re born German: You can immigrate to Germany, but you are not “”German.””

    However, no country has gone to the same lengths as the Netherlands. The Netherlands’ immigration minister, Rita Verdonk, has explained that the policy is “”in the interest of Dutch society and those concerned,”” according to Fox News. However, many disagree.

    Immigrants need to better assimilate to the core culture of their new homes, and in some cases, it appears governments are hindering that process.

    Arguing that the film is offensive to Muslims, Karel Steenbrink, a Dutch theologian and professor at the University of Utrecht, said, “”It is not a prudent way of welcoming people to the Netherlands.””

    And that is a valid point. How does making immigrants watch a film of lascivious material make one more Dutch? How does forcing them to watch a movie intended to shock and offend translate into a preservation of Dutch culture? A person can accept that the surrounding culture is liberal, and even understand that he will see things with which he morally disagrees, without being forced to watch it for 105 minutes.

    The immigration situation in Europe calls for careful measures. Immigrants need to better assimilate to the core culture of their new homes, and in some cases, it appears governments are hindering that process.

    In a world that is becoming increasingly more globalized, there has to be a better solution than increasing the rigidity of immigration policies.

    While a country obviously would like its immigrants to understand the culture into which they are assimilating, the solution shouldn’t involve force-feeding offensive material to law-abiding – and culturally accepting – would-be Dutch immigrants.

    Janne Perona is a criminal justice administration sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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