Autumn traditions for 2014 – 1: Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet

The sun did not yet go under for the Summer 2014 or Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas), Sancta Claus, the Santa, and all Winter presents were already to be found in the shops. In Flanders in May we had already a garden centre which presented a huge Christmas show, with all the new decoration gadgets for December 2014. That month there was also lots of protest having to be confronted as consumer with the Christmas period, whilst Summer had yet to start.

Intocht van Sinterklaas in Amsterdam

Sinterklaas and his servants in Amsterdam

In the Low countries we for centuries do have a children festival where on the night of 5 December presents are brought by a so called saint Nicolas and his servants who are called “zwarte pieten” “black guys” (often translated in English as Black Peters or “Black Pete“, thinking a Piet is the name of a Peter or Pete instead of the slang for a worker or guy, a toff, a bigwig or “Johnnie”). This labourer who helps to make, transport and delivers the presents by going through the chimneys, by which he becomes so black, has been the dispute already since 2012, but got in real high discussion last year. We thought we had seen it all, but this year many communities bear the consequences from the zwarte Piet” (“Black Pete”). They are afraid to have black persons standing next to Sinterklaas on the ship or on the road, on horses close to Sinterklaas risking to receive a fine or to be put in jail. Those against the colour of the ‘black petes’ have clearly forgotten that the white bishop had worked in Turkey and brought his helpers from there en from Spain, where he found Moors or Moroccan people who were willing to help him to bring goods to the poor and need, plus to the small children who could be made happy with a surprise.

Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan had to hear in July that the Amsterdam District Court found the character of Zwarte Piet a racist caricature.. He was advised to reconsider his licensing of the annual Sinterklaas parade where the Saint enters the city on a boat with several balck sevants on the deck. In August van der Laan got back to them and said that the character of Zwarte Piet would change over the next four years; the black paint, red lips and afro wigs would be ‘toned down’.

On television several shopkeepers declared even not willing to sell black greasepaint these months, because it could be associated with them liking a Black Pete, and as such being ‘discriminating black people’. What those people against the black Pete do not want to see is that the blackness of the person has nothing to do with discrimination or by preferring black slaves. Zwarte Piet or Black Pete is a helper and not a slave of Saint Nicholas. Either on the 5th of December (in Holland) or the 6th of December (Holland and Belgium -except some parts of Flanders, Holland, North France and German districts, where they have Sint Maarten on the 11th of November in) several children in the Low Countries look forward for  Saint Nicholas’ Day (6 December) where they can have a day where they can play freely with their presents of ‘the holy man’.

The whole situations seems to get out of hand when we do hear that even people are receiving death treats on both camps. In August the judicial advisor to the anti-Zwarte Piet movement, Frank King, removed himself from the judicial process around the issue after receiving several death threats, the Algemeen Dagblad reported. In an interview with the AD, King says that his heart is still in the case, and that he may get involved again some time.

“If the topic makes it to the European Human Rights Court, they can call me”,

King tells the AD.

Every one should have to have the right to have a defence layer or professional advisor, not having to mean that this adviser totally agrees with the person he talks for. from Leiden is done. Frank King believes that there is some kind of schism between what he thinks he is doing, and what others think he’s doing.

“I seem myself as lawyer of the counter-movement against Zwarte Piet. But the supporters see that differently. They now see me as the face of the counter-movement. And are directing their anger at me.”

Recently, the lawyer has received threats and abuse on all levels of communication. He receives the worst by mail. He is threatened, and he is abused because he has parents from Suriname.

“One mail said that I should have been put on a 17th century slave ship, just like my ancestors.”

King has had enough of the abuse, as well as the case, which is taxing in time. Though King does emphasize that he is proud of his involvement, and proud of the progress made.

Geert Wilders and his followers do have a problem with coloured people and made it that several Dutch people have become weary about the black coloured people and traditional black figures. In Belgium and Holland or the Netherlands we even do not know any more what we are allowed to say for a person with an other skin than the Caucasian race. There was a time we were not allowed to say ‘zwarte’ (‘black’) any more and had to say ‘neger’ (niger) but then this was not as seen as polite any more so ‘negro type’ and ‘negroïde’ were introduced. After a while this was not done any more and we had to use “immigrant” (“immigrant”) but soon this was considered to be a sobriquet and was to be replaced with “allochtoon” (foreign, alien, allochthonous), which is now also nearly becoming a nickname or giving a sign of ‘giving the other person the stigma’ of being a ‘profiteer’. This really indicates in our regions we are getting a real race problem.

Sinterklaas en ZwartePiet

Classic drawing of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet (Saint Nicholas and Black Pete) every young person in the Low Countries formerly grew up with

For centuries at schools across the country, children sang songs referring to the skin tone and character of the black servant “…even if I’m black as coal I mean well…”, “Saint Nicholas, enter with your black servant”, etc,. Many object that in some old songs about Zwarte Piet, he is presented as not being a very clever boy, even  being a little bit stupid, a little bit clumsy, more akin to a child than an adult, the same generalisations previously applied to black people, but which can no longer be made explicitly.

Now nothing may be black any more or it would be associated with denigration. As a joke in 2012 already a funny video was introduced where a “zwarte piet” was presented as a worker you could hire or buy to do all the little and harder works in the household and at the office or could even be used as you masseur or “puppy” or “doll” in bed.

The whole situation became so ludicrous that several funny video’s turn up and even companies are making advertisement spots, like we could see one, last night for fund recruitment for cancer treatment, where we could see a “Zwarte Pieten” training school in Africa which had lost so much money because nobody wanted a black Pete any more, they nearly could continue working but a solution was found having new recruits with white bold children wanting to learn for ‘piet'[(Sorry no video available of this (yet)].

Concerning supermarkets not willing to present anything any more which refers to ‘Zwarte Piet’ a satirical video was already placed on Youtube. It was first presented on The PowNews of October 9, 2014: The Albert Heijn wants Zwarte Pietwegjorissen” (take them out of the picture), but the helpers are not pleased with it and do not want to give up their job, which they like very much. Therefore a boycott was set up before the Alber Heijn supermarkets by the helpers of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) in Appie, Oostzaan.

  • Geert Wilders wants mandatory blackface at Dutch festival (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
    If Wilders wants to ban changing songs’ lyrics, then he will have very much work to do. Throughout history, old songs have been adapted with new lyrics. Protestant churches in the Netherlands and elsewhere have changed the lyrrics of their hymns and psalms frequently. Does Wilders want to jail the Protestant dignitaries responsible for that? He can’t jail all of them, as most are already dead. The Belgian national anthem’s lyrics have changed many times.
  • Santa’s helper is a racist caricature (newint.org)

    It’s been a month since Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan announced his decision to cancel Christmas. Or at least that’s how Anneka Hendriks laughingly describes it to me. Hendriks is one of the hundreds of people in Amsterdam who enjoy painting their faces black, donning afro wigs and gold hoop earrings, and celebrating the festive season by masquerading as Zwarte Piet (Dutch for ‘Black Pete’).

    ‘Hundreds’ is a conservative estimate; it’s probably more like thousands or tens of thousands when the rest of the Netherlands is taken into account.

  • The Netherlands plan a nationwide consultation on the controversial Black Pete tradition (independent.co.uk)

    The Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands has announced that he will be organising a consultation on the role that ‘Black Petes’ should play during the festive opening of the Sinterklaas season this year.

    Minister Lodewijk Asscher plans to bring relevant parties together to discuss possible changes to the controversial tradition ahead of the televised event on 15 November. The talks will include the national broadcaster and the council of Gouda, the host town.

    Asscher says: “Last year things were very polarised. Everyone should be able to enjoy the festivities again.”
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    The Dutch have indeed taken a clear stance in defence of their beloved Pete. The Prime Minister Mark Rutte reflected the feelings of the majority of the population when he responded to criticisms by saying: “Black Pete, that already says it, he’s black. We can’t change much about that”.

  • Dutch ‘Zwarte Piet’: Innocent Holiday Tradition or Inadvertent Racism? (ny.thedailydigest.org)
    When I was a little kid (“little” being ages 10 through 17), I lived in the Netherlands Antilles and in the Netherlands. That was back in the 50s.
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    I remember them (sometimes there were dozens of them) running and clowning around with their burlap sacks — scaring the daylights out of some little kids might be a better term — in parades, shopping centers and, as legend had it, coming down the chimney while you were sleeping.
  • Dutch ‘Zwarte Pieten’: Innocent Tradition or Inadvertent Racism? (themoderatevoice.com)
    going back 60 years, Zwarte Pieten were white adolescents with painted black faces (supposedly from the soot picked up scaling down all those chimneys), thick, painted-on, bright-red lips, lots of frizzy black hair, many other “ornaments” such as big gold hoop earrings…and beautiful Dutch blue or green eyes. (No colored contact lenses in those days).

    They were Sinterklaas’ knechten (servants) who would help Sinterklaas deliver sweets and gifts to those kids who had behaved throughout the year and would leave only a lump of coal for those children who had not been very nice. Legend and rumor also had it that they would stuff kids who had been naughty and bad into their burlap sacks and haul them back to Spain, or Morocco, or Turkey or wherever current folklore had it that the Zwarte Pieten came from.

  • The Dutch Christmas with Zwarte Pieten in Blackface (usslave.blogspot.com)
    From Forbes, “The Unbearable Whiteness of Piet-ing: Dutch Santa’s Blackface Elves,” by John Giuffo (Contributor), on 4 December 2012 — Christmastime in Amsterdam has a special kind of magic, and a unique kind of controversy.
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    White lights slide down buildings and arch across shopping streets, multiplying their twinkle in canal reflections. No garish multi-color, animatronic ego contests anywhere. You will hear Christmas music, but you’re not assaulted, and dreams of restraining orders against Bing Crosby never fill your head (unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of his children). No one is trampled in shopping frenzies, no one gets arrested for assaulting line-cutters, and the gift giving comes in early December, separate from the more low-key holiday of the 25th. Family members write sardonic poems for each other. Poems! Glühwein – a sort of hot Christmas sangria – warms hands and bellies. And Sinterklaas arrives not on a reindeer-pulled sleigh laden with loot, but on a white horse, accompanied by a small cohort of his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten, or Black Petes – white revelers coated in blackface.
  • Virtual Advent Tour & Giveaway: The Dutch Celebration of Sinterklaas (leeswammes.wordpress.com)
    Sinterklaas has been a tradition in the Netherlands for hundreds of years. Originally, this bishop came to bring money to the poor, but these days it’s a children’s celebration.
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    Just like lots of children all over the world believe in Santa Claus, in the Netherlands it’s Sinterklaas they believe in and usually stop believing in around 7 or 8 years’ of age.
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    Zwarte Piet has sweets in his bag (although in the old days he would use his bag to transport naughty children back to Spain!), notably pepernoten, which are small, slightly spicy biscuits (cookies). Usually Zwarte Piet will throw these around and kids collect them from the floor (when outdoors they get a fistful in their hand).

    Pepernoten

  • Sinterklaas, A Historically Correct (But Politically Incorrect) Children’s Tradition (urbantimes.co)
    The Dutch picture the character of ‘Zwarte Piet’ (translated Black Pete) as helper with a controversial black African look: blackface, curly wig, red lips, sometimes Creole earrings. The outfit is colourful, topped of by a cap with feathers and a ruffle like a Renaissance page.
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    This year, the usual discussion has been overrun by the decision of the former Dutch colony Suriname to ban Sinterklaas completely. Up until now Sinterklaas had been celebrated in Suriname the same way as in Holland: with a white priest coming from Spain on a boat with his black helpers… Evidently, this custom doesn’t fit in a country where white people only account for 5% of the population.
  • be what you want to be (piadrent.blogspot.com)
    The helpers are called ‘Black Petes’ and they are funny and a bit stupid.

    This may have been fine half a century ago, but in today’s day we find that discriminative and offensive. So there is a restyling movement for Black Petes happening right now. First, we will be calling them Petes, and second, their skin tone is becoming more flexible.

Stand Up

When we look at history, we always shall find cases where one part of the population was not liked and was shunned. Many times one human being stood up against another human being, because he or she did not like his or her person, attitude, thinking, colour or race.
Every Christian should ask for himself or herself: “Were is my position?” and “What is my stand?” Are we really followers of Christ not judging the other but taking them as equal brothers and sisters, children of God?

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Shamefully we must admit that there have been churches who took on dubious relationships with those who discriminated. Even the chosen people by God, the Jews got their share of many tribulations and persecutions, culminating in the unforgettable holocaust.

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Description: A Ku Klux Klan meeting in Gainesv...

African Americans in the United States of America had to wait a very long time before they were not treated any-more as lower beings. At the beginning of the 21st century we still can find many extreme right wingers who consider the Caucasian race as the superior race, created by ‘the Lord’ to be the ruler of everything. Today the Ku Klux Klan is still very active in the United States of America.

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In case the western world is not careful they tend to go to a similar discrimination about Muslims  as previously with the Jews. In the Islamic world we notice the trend already of having extreme groups giving a wrong picture of other people and of other religions.

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Because of the ongoing discrimination our world still needs a Civil Rights Movement and needs people who react against all the wrong done to others. Some Christians think we should all things just let to happen. But as real Christians we should have the love for our neighbour and have to protect the weaker ones.

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It is oh so easy just to stand a side and do of nothing happens or saying it is far from you. Many easily say what others do wrong,  when they can not hear it. Some may find it also easy to stand up and teach what is right, yet for many it is hard to stand up against what is wrong, and to clearly show the world that they do not agree with such wrong. It is nice to stand up for what is right, but we may not forget to stand against what is wrong!

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Find also:

  1. Economic crisis danger for the rise of political extremism
  2. Exceptionalism and Restricting Laws
  3. Attitude to others important for reaching them
  4. Race, Skin color and differences
  5. About the Holocaust
  6. Palestine, Israel, God’s people and democracy
  7. Zionism comments and the place of Jerusalem in the world
  8. Migrants to the West #1
  9. Migrants to the West #2
  10. Migrants to the West #6
  11. Migrants to the West #8 Welbeing
  12. Immigration consternation
  13. Life and attitude of a Christian
  14. Judge not according to appearance
  15. Not liking your Christians
  16. What Are The Sources Of Anti-Semitism?
  17. Pupils asked ‘why do some people hate Jews?’ in GCSE exam

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  • -An International ‘War’ on Christians? (answersforthefaith.com)
    In the 1940’s journalists failed to report upon the very real holocaust that was killing thousands of Jews everyday.

    Many believed that it was too terrible to be true and that a ‘civilized’ Western country like Germany could never be involved in such a monstrous enterprise. Others considered it to be mere war propaganda or excited exaggeration.
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    Today we are in the midst of a ‘war’ on Christians all around the world mostly being perpetrated by radical Muslims and mostly ignored. Documented estimates put the number at around a hundred thousand killed a year. Nothing like the holocaust in Europe of the 40’s but maybe closer to the persecution and genocide of the Christian Armenians in Turkey during WWI.

    Nevertheless, here’s a Jewish writer asking if we are not seeing another ‘Kristallnacht’ this time in the Middle East against Christians
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    Since so many in the Western media are secular folks in which religion is only a minor part of their everyday lives and experience, it is really hard for them to even consider that religion could be a major motivator behind many events around the world. As it is most reporters project their own secular views and perspectives into their understanding and analysis of news.

    Intellectually they realize that religion is important to the folks they are covering but look for any other possible explanation to frame the news in. So many of the instances where Christians are persecuted or killed are explained away as unique events brought on by on-going political battles, civil war, or racial/cultural strife.

  • I think jewish were opressed, but nowadays are holding a significant part of economy´s world, and they play the victim´s card a little too much considering other societies are being more opressed than they are right now (which is not a lot to begin with, (johnskylar.com)
    WWII was not the first time that the Jewish people were oppressed!
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    Between the years 250 CE and 1948 CE – a period of 1,700 years – Jews have experienced more than eighty expulsions from various countries in Europe – an average of nearly one expulsion every twenty-one years. Jews were expelled from England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, Moravia and seventy-one other countries.
  • (William E. Grim) The Return Of Anti-Semitism To Germany: It Never Really Left (propagandalies.wordpress.com)
    four young, charming, well-educated Germans spewing forth anti-Semitic bilk that would have made Julius Streicher proud. I found that this type of anti-Semitic reference in my professional dealings with Germans soon became a leitmotif (to borrow a term made famous by Richard Wagner, another notorious German anti-Semite). In my private meetings with Germans it often happens that they will loosen up after a while and reveal personal opinions and political leanings that were thought to have ceased to exist in a Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945.
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    anti- Semitism exists elsewhere in the world, but nowhere have the consequences been as devastating as in Germany.
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    Looking at it as objectively as possible, 2002 has been a banner year for anti-Semitism in Germany. Synagogues have been firebombed, Jewish cemeteries desecrated, the No. 1 best-selling novel, Martin Walser’s Death of a Critic, is a thinly-veiled roman à clef containing a vicious anti-Semitic attack on Germany’s best-known literary critic, Marcel Reich-Ranicki ( who is a survivor of both the Warsaw ghetto and Auschwitz), the Free Democrat Party has unofficially adopted anti-Semitism as a campaign tactic to attract Germany’s sizeable Muslim minority, and German revisionist historians now are beginning to define German perpetration of World War II and the Holocaust not as crimes against humanity, but as early battles (with regrettable but understandable excesses) in the Cold War against communism. The situation is so bad that German Jews are advised not to wear anything in public that would identify them as Jewish because their safety cannot be guaranteed.

    How can this be? Isn’t this the “New Germany” that’s gone 57 straight years without a Holocaust or even a pogrom, where truth, justice and the German way prevail amidst economic wealth, a high standard of living that is the envy of their European neighbors, and a constitution guaranteeing freedom for everyone regardless of race, creed or national origin? What’s changed? The answer is: absolutely nothing.

  • | Raging Apartheid: Author Max Blumenthal exposes Israel’s ethnic supremacism! (truthaholics.wordpress.com)
    In his new book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, award-winning journalist Max Blumenthal goes deep inside Israeli society, offering a rare and unfiltered lens into the hideous implications of Israel’s commitment to Jewish supremacy.
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    With his fearless brand of uncompromising honesty, Blumenthal exposes Israel as a racist colonizer that more closely resembles the American Jim Crow South and Apartheid South Africa than a modern-day democracy. In one gripping scene after another, Blumenthal shows Israel to be a nation infused with nationalistic fervor, where mainstream political leaders routinely incite hatred against non-Jews and use the Holocaust to justify violence and discrimination against Palestinians and African migrants, a far cry from the picturesque “Jewish and democratic state” revered in the establishment press.
  • Inside the deep, ugly world of anti-Semitic YouTube (dailydot.com)
    “The Jews are coming after your Internet. It’s the only place they don’t control. Where you are allowed to criticize them.”

    Would it surprise you that it took me only two clicks to find that quote, featured prominently on one of the most popular sites on the Web?

    It was written by a commenter on a YouTube video, just a week old at the time, with more than 21,000 views called “The Jews Who Rule America.”

    While most social networks strive to put a lid on the hate speech, YouTube’s lack of censorship or community moderation makes it possible for such prejudices to prosper.

  • Mother Defends Her 7-Year-Old’s Ku Klux Klan Costume (webpronews.com)
    In regards to the passing tradition, Jessica Black, whose son dressed as a Klansman for Halloween told WHSV that, “My brother has when was in Kindergarten and when he was 13.”

    Even little 7-year-old Jackson Black, as he was donning the white drapes of hatred, said that the reason he wore such a controversial costume was “Cuz it was cool.”

  • “Islam Bad”? (jewsdownunder.wordpress.com)
    Some people think that speaking out against political Islam, which is the foremost fascistic movement in the world today, is nothing less than “racism” toward Muslims, in general.In this way they conflate Hamas and al-Qaeda with all people of the Islamic faith which, in itself, is a bigoted position.

    This is something akin to being afraid to oppose the Klan out of a fear of insulting Christians.  If I were a Christian and I was told that opposing the Ku Klux Klan is basically the same as “Christianity Bad” I would be deeply insulted, but this is precisely what people do when they oppose those of us willing to speak out against the movement for politicized Islam.

  • Some people would eat shit if it were stamped Kosher and filled with gold (normanfinkelstein.com)
    Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the United States and British ambassadors to Israel have been paying tribute to one of the vilest, most racist and women-hating warmongers the world has ever known.
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    The defunct Yosef was openly racist and believed that the Jews were a master race and that God had created the rest of humanity to serve them. In a sermon on 16 October 2010, he said:

    Goyim [non-Jews] were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.

    Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plough, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat.
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    Yosef’s racism was almost matched by his contempt for women. “A woman without sons,” he believed, “is worth nothing… sometimes you hear at the ladies section in the synagogue the women babbling. What about? The one tells the other how beautiful her dress is… this is their brain.”

  • The standing Order (kingsfordobiriyeboah.wordpress.com)
    Something that does not move by circumstances, challengings, Persecutions and tribulations.
  • Take A Stand (itsallgrace96.com)
    It is Easy to stand up and teach what is right, yet it is Hard to stand up against what is wrong.

    Standing up for what is right, is not all that is required of us .  We must stand against what is wrong!