Dutch Muslims are feeling under siege, with proposed legislation that would ban the ritual slaughter of animals for halal meat because it's been argued that it causes the animals unnecessary pain.

According to this article, the Dutch government is also intent on imposing conditions on new immigrants, among which are learning the Dutch language and accepting Dutch values. In addition, legislation is being drawn up that will make wearing the veil illegal after January first.

I have mixed feelings about this. On one level I see it as Dutch society setting ground rules that say "If you want to live here, you have to live according to our values", and that seems perfectly reasonable to me. On another level, many ordinary Muslims are bound to interpret it as a "You're not welcome here" message, as illustrated in the article, and I think that's sad.

I suppose it's all grist to the mill of the growing clash of cultures in Europe.

Tags: Dutch values, Islam, Muslims, Netherlands, halal meat

Views: 15

Replies to This Discussion

I agree with you.

Living in the United States may give me a different view of this, but any nation defining and requiring certain the belief in certain values rubs me the wrong way in a serious way.  What if a native Dutchman converts to Islam?  Is he breaking the law if he adopts beliefs not in line with "Dutch values?"

 

Who gets to define these Dutch values anyway?  Do all the political parties in Denmark agree on what makes good Dutch values?  If it is anything like the USA, the answer would be "HELL NO!"

Well, I don't know for sure so I'm only speculating here - I'd say they'd be broad values -- about the treatment of women and children, for example. I personally don't see anything wrong with outlawing forced marriages, etc. It's just drawing firm lines that everybody can understand.

The analogy I'd use is having people come and live in your house with you. While you might want to be welcoming and willing to accommodate some of the newcomers' ways, you'd still feel entitled to lay down some ground-rules to ensure that they also understand and respect your way of life.

And I'm surprised, Stephan, to hear someone from the US question the feasibility of a nation setting out its common values. What are the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, if they're not attempts to do just that?

What are the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, if they're not attempts to do just that?

 

No, I would net say the Bill of Rights and Constitution are that.  The Bill of Rights, I'd say, is almost the opposite of doing that.  They set out things that the government can't do, and things we can't do to each other.  The amendments say the government can't stop the freedom of press, or religion, or speech.  It does not say you have to take part in those freedoms.  You can hold to a strict religion, or none at all.  You can speak out against the government or your neighbor, or not speak out at all.  You can read or publish the news, or you can ignore it completely.  These aren't values, they are the ABSENCE of values.  The freedom to value these things or not.

 

If, by "accepting Dutch values" they simply mean to accept that others don't have to have your values, then fine.  That's the Bill of Rights approach, and I don't have a problem with that.  If, however, those values are "You should do X, but not Y" then I have a problem with it.

So, enshrining the freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of speech in a constitution isn't a statement of values? Come on, Stephan, I thought better of you than that. Are you trying to say that freedom of speech is not a value?

Maybe we all need to define our terms here (Grace's comment also threw me because the distinction she makes between law and values seems like a false dichotomy to me). When I say 'values' what I'm talking about are the ideals that are deeply embedded in a culture and are seen by most members of that culture as desirable or good. Our laws tend to embody and reflect our values.

Everyone has their own values.  I was thinking specifically of the Christian Right.  They talk about values a lot.  I wouldn't want to be forced to accept and live by their values, but I do live according to the laws.

 

And that's why we fight the enshrining of their religious values into law.  The Constitution helps us a little with that, at least.
Yeah, you and I are using the Ethics version of "values" and they are using the "sociology" version I think...hence the miscommunication, at least on my part.
Yup, semantics can make for some pointless bickering ... still fun though, a lot of the time.  It also helps you solidify what you think, by engaging in silly hair-splitting.

It also helps you solidify what you think, by engaging in silly hair-splitting.

 

Indeed.  Or perhaps in this situation, it helped communicate what I was actually trying to say.  Although I still don't think my point is that clear...oh well, I have too much homework to do to worry about it anymore today.

Eventually got the idea that I think you meant.  Or at least I've got another idea that also makes sense, which probably varies from yours in subtle ways.

Let us look at definitions for value:

 

values in Sociology . the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy.

Ethics . any object or quality desirable as a means or as an end in itself.

I was thinking more of the Ethics definition earlier.  I think I fell into the trap of Otherness, where my culture and values focus on allowing other cultures and values as long as they don't interfere with other people's freedoms.  I failed to see "values" in that context.  In that way, I'll retract my statement and agree that the freedoms of the Bill of Rights are American values (still makes my skin crawl thinking about it that way though).
However, I'll still say that any enforcement of "values" besides enforcing that other people can have different values than you and you can't hurt other people makes me worried.  I wouldn't trust 99% of politicians (and that's being generous) to make a decision on what values should be enforced.  That is why something like the Bill of Rights is important, it has placed these things into law, not just personal values.
Not knowing much about the wonderful Dutch nation, I don't know what kind of laws they have encoding freedoms and values, but I'm thinking any reactionary measure taken by politicians inflamed by Muslims is a bad idea.

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