But I am, originally, so I speak Deutsch, but as I was born in Holland, and picked up Nederlands on the street, or actually Broabants, cause I grew up in Brabant, obviously its Northern part, else I would have been Belgian. Anyway, although this is all not very confusing to me, it seems to elude most non-Dutch, which in the scale of things is everybody. This guy made a valiant effort to explain it. Are you any less confused after watching this?
Now, from my mother’s side, grandma came from the Rhineland, which used to be Dutch in the past, on my dad’s side, grandpa came from Sudetenland, where they spoke German, but which is now part of the Czech republic. Granddad died early and my grandmother remarried the granddad that I got to know, who came from the South of Poland, although like most of his neighbors his mother tongue was also German. I can go on for a while, but the point of it all is that the Dutch confusion is part of a much, much larger story about which I know preciously little.
I am supposedly well educated and was taught history over the course of a lot of years of schooling. How come an (absolutely fabulous by the way!) book like Geert Mak’s In Europe manages to shock me when it describes the 20th century as the concluding chapter of the ethnic cleansing that is the story of European nationalism. A story that, as you can intuit from the above, my family was very much part of!
Or what about my total ignorance about the first genocide of modern history being the work of Belgian king Leopold before coming across Adam Hochschild’s book? Belgium, that was like 30k South of my birthplace… Or, yes, I knew about the English and their opium wars, but the Dutch? Well until I read Ewald van Vugt‘s Wettig Opium (legal opium) I didn’t have a clue about us being such huge drug traders (sorry, in Dutch…).
No one can be informed about everything but what makes these examples shocking to me is that they are about momentous stuff in my own back yard. I’ve consumed enough Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Naomi Klein and others of their kind to be intellectually aware that mediascape is not reality. But, although I try my level best – not always successfully – to stay clear from paranoia, reminding myself that taking the Truman show analogy too literal is not healthy, it is worrisome how rarely I am viscerally shocked by something that highlights how distorted my understanding actually is. This can hardly mean anything other than that most of the time I seem to buy into what’s presented to me as reality.
As I have mentioned him already, I might as well share a John Pilger video with you that describes the so-called international community’s behavior towards the Cambodian people after their liberation from the Khmer Rouge by their Vietnamese neighbors. I happen to know Cambodia a bit, so the connection to this particular demasque is personal again. Cambodia may not hit any of your buttons. But if it in any way does, watch and shudder: A decade of betrayal that the media didn’t tell us about.