Two days ago Michel Rog, from the Christian Democrats (CDA), forgot that we recently collectively came to the conclusion that overt racism was no longer accepted in the Netherlands. He sent out a racist tweet calling me ‘graaipiet’, greedy Black Pete. Barely a day earlier Labour MP Ahmed Marcouch asked the minister of Security and Justice parliamentary questions about racist Facebook and Twitter comments. Under a group selfie with some of the black players of the Dutch national team a tidal wave of racist comments appeared likening the black players to apes and Black Pete.
All throughout the day yesterday Rog was not available and his colleagues and party have not distanced themselves from his behavior. In an interview on tv last night the leader of the party just smiled and said that we just have to laugh off. Rog himself tried to wimper it off as a joke. Did the football players who were likened to Black Pete also have to laugh it off as a joke? As of this writing his tweet is still on twitter. There’s been no sign of contrition or an apology. Therefore, there’s nothing else I can do but press charges for racism and defamation.
Nowadays, or at least before the weekend, a lot of people seemed to think that it was normal, and were actually proud, to unashamedly let their racist flag fly. The freedom of expression was being perverted and had transformed into the freedom of hatespeech and to racially offend. Out in the open on Twitter and Facebook people have been placing defamatory, racist and threatening texts in regards to black emancipation and the struggle against Black Pete. And many of those comments are aimed at me because of my work on Black Pete. Rog’s tweet, which was commenting on a interview given by the Wim Dijtman, chairman of the youth organization of the christian democrats in the east of the country, is just one example.
Dutch politicians and media organizations
These future Christian Democratic leaders of Kampen approached me in August for a Black Pete debate. But not wanting to be speaking for those who were probably already opposing the figure on a local level I declined. If I had taken up the spot I would be going along with the bogus argument that prior to my arrest in 2011 there was no resistance to the figure. That’s utter nonsense and erases the work done by those who came before me. Via my agent I proposed to prepare an introduction. Because there’s work involved to put it together I ask a fee and because it is a long way from Amsterdam to Kampen it seemed reasonable to ask for some food. Some fries would have sufficed. After a curt and rude rejection, from the secretary of the organization Anne Adema, I asked a friend and an acquaintance who are members of the Christian Democrats if this was the way they dealt with people from outside the party. The youth organization offered their apologies after this email and the issue was settled, from my perspective at least.
In the three months between their request in August and interview by the chairman of the youth group last week, it’s been open season and I’ve been continuously attacked in the public discourse. There have been articles in mainstream newspapers and magazines that have called me militant, whiny, an extremist, an instigator and a terrorist. The Telegraaf is the largest newspaper in the country with a circulation of 450.000 per day has been leading the charge in creating this negative connotation with my name. The paper, which collaborated with the Nazi occupiers during the WWII, has used the various media outlets at its disposal ranging from local newspapers to radio to online to the initiation of two Public Broadcasters.
And it’s online flaghship presence GeenStijl and its offshoot the Public Broadcaster PowNed, have harassed and attacked me for years for clicks, views and ultimately ad revenues and government subsidies. From the first moment that the Telegraaf Media Group‘s GeenStijl had me in their cross-hairs, the negative attention has been extreme and vast. An employee of the Public Broadcaster PowNed, Jan Roos, has been terrorizing and taunting me on Twitter for a quite awhile now. His 26 thousand followers eagerly comply to his implied calls for bullying and before you know it you’re 200 blocks further. Recently after another round of racist harassment, and an avalanche of racist tweets and death threats, I remarked on it. Given that Roos is from the Public Broadcaster PowNed, which is known for its openly stated aim to disrupt and taunt, I expected him to be able to take it. Well I was wrong. He filed a police report against me for slander.
Harassment campaigns and ambushes
In the last week a couple of things have occurred that have fueled the extreme increase of death threats and harassment. Last week there was the Council of State’s decision that sided with the mayor on if he could have given the permit for the 2013 Saint Nicolas parade in Amsterdam but also advised on other avenues that could be taken to combat the figure. Last weekend there were protests in Amsterdam and in Gouda where the national parade was taking place. The protest in Gouda got completely out of hand because of the presence of ultra nationalist extremists and known neo-nazi’s. What exacerbated the situation was that the police used ethnic profiling to determine who was to be arrested on sight as several people of color who weren’t even there to protest had been asked for their ID’s simply because they were present at the Saint Nicolas parade.
After the parade Erik van Muiswinkel, the comedian that for the last 13 years has been paid by the Public Broadcaster NTR and its predecessor to don blackface, was the first to lay the blame for the escalation squarely on the shoulders of the Telegraaf. The readers, listeners and viewers of the Telegraaf’s properties have come to view the extremist tone and presentation as normal. It’s not surprising that dozens of Facebook Pages have popped up calling for silencing me by any means necessary and where people are openly fantasizing about murdering me.
In this fog of intense hatred the chairman of the youth group of the Christian Democrats, Wim Duitman, was interviewed about why their debate on Black Pete was cancelled. Instead of simply admitting that he hadn’t bothered to find any local people to debate, in the three months since our exchange, he launched a story that my fee was too much. With the amount of people voicing their resistance to the figure you would imagine that they could’ve found somebody. Probably thinking that I am the most hated man in the country and he could just pile on, Duitman decided to mask his groups own failure by blaming me for the failure to setup a debate. This of course makes it all seem all the more likely that the CDJA wasn’t actually looking for a debate, just people shouting at me. Not exactly a Christian type of mentality that you would expect. But then again the youth group was also naive in thinking that I haven’t encountered this type of attempted ambush before.
Michel Rog, who is the education spokesman for the Christian Democrats in parliament, also decided to air his Christian heart on the issue. He retweeted the interview and provided it with the racist hashtag #graaipiet, greedy Black Pete. People immediately took him to task for his tweet and with the exception of two retweets he has been extremely silent on the issue. The Christian Democrats on a whole have been extremely silent about the racist tweet. The only politicians who are voicing support for his tweet are politicians from the neo-liberal VVD and D66 parties on the municipal and province level. The support is an embarrassment for our democratic system if you ask me. What’s bizarre is that I tried to contact the Christian Democrat all through the day yesterday, but calls to his spokeswoman were not answered or returned.
Telegraaf Media Group‘s Spits and Bert ‘rifapen’ Brussens The Post Online have written articles on my tweets to MP Rog about his slanderous and racist tweet. In the articles they state that I’e threatened to press charges. Actually, no. I gave him a warning and time to remove his tweet. Coincidentally, I was called this morning by the police for questioning about the charges that the employee of the Public Broadcaster PowNed Jan Roos, filed against me. Where many thought his press release stating that he was pressing charges was a hoax from the bully with press credentials the charges actually offer me a valuable teaching opportunity. The questioning is scheduled on the same day that debate in Kampen was supposed to take place making it even clearer what my next step should be.
The recent conviction of notorious internet troll Robert Engel, has shown that the tide has turned in the Netherlands when it comes to online harassment. Engel was convicted for online harassment, slander, defamation and stalking. He was ordered to pay €5000,- for emotional damage and for ever day that his statements about the victim were still online after the verdict he would be €5000,- with a maximum of €100.000,-. Recently it was estimated that he’s already €16,500 in the hole because he was also ordered to pay the court and lawyer fees. This is a massive verdict and victory for the survivor whose life was upended by the hateful actions of Engel. What’s apparant though, with the near black out in the media of the verdict, the repercussions for the online debate climate in the Netherlands haven’t yet been fully grasped. It’s a definite signal to everybody who’s at the receiving end of online harassment to stand up and bring the fight to the online abusers.
So on December 2nd I am filing charges against member of parliament Rog, public broadcast employee Roos and everybody that has posted or sent me death threats. I’ll also be filing charges against the people who have been dragging my name through the mud with false statements and fake tweets.
With Twitter’s renewed search function, I already have found quite a lot and I’ve also taken a lot of screenshots of threats sent to me and posted on my timeline on Facebook. But it could also be that there are things that I missed because I have blocked certain people in the past. So I need you to help me out with this and send me everything you come across by the 1st of December in the form a screenshot and the webadress where you found it. You can send it all to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: CDJA IJsseldelta