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The End of Tolerance?
Prof. dr. James Kennedy (Amsterdam University)
If there is one word with which Dutch history is associated, it is its fabled
tolerance, especially during it Golden Age. That seems to be in short supply
now, with many Dutch actively questioning how good it actually is to practice
forbearance toward those with unacceptable ideals. This is especially the case
in respect to Islam. The Dutch model of principled pluralism - in which each
religious minority was given great leeway to organize its own affairs - is under
pressure. This presentation offers a bird's eye view of the Dutch history of
tolerance, showing what that concept has - and has not - meant. Then it
focuses on more recent developments: the unchurching of the Netherlands, the
substantial influx of religious immigrants, and the effects all of this has had
on Dutch politics, and on Dutch traditions of tolerance. Finally, it ties the
Dutch experience with those in Western Europe, where similar but not identical
debates are taking place.
James Kennedy is professor of Dutch history since the Middle Ages at the
University of Amsterdam. An American citizen and trained in the United States,
Kennedy has been professor of history in Amsterdam since 2003. He is
particularly specialized in the period after 1945, and has written books about
the cultural changes of the 1960s, Dutch euthanasia policy and on the social
position of Dutch churches. He is also a Trouw columnist and a frequent
commentator in the media.