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Calvin to Host Outspoken Journalist
October 23 , 2006

Calvin will host an outspoken Dutch journalist and author on Saturday, November 4 at 7:30 pm in a talk that is free and open to all. Geert Mak will speak in the Calvin Chapel on the topic "Dutch Disease or European Dilemma: Have Dutch Tolerance and Multiculturalism Failed?"

His visit is being hosted nationally by the Netherlands American Foundation and locally by the Meijer Chair in Dutch Language and Culture at Calvin College.

Henk Aay, the first holder of that Meijer Chair, says Mak will address some important issues related to multiculturalism, tolerance and national identity.

"Mak," he says, "is an influential writer in the rather polarized debate in his country around such issues as multiculturalism, immigration and Islam. The growing tensions between the Middle East and the West are also surfacing in the Netherlands, sometimes in tragic fashion."

Aay points to the assassinations in that country of politician Pim Fortuyn and artist Theo van Gogh as real wake-up calls for both the Netherlands and Europe.

In Mak's newspaper career he has addressed such overarching themes as minorities, youth movements, big city politics and problems, and more recently the troubled immigration and integration issues of certain groups in the Muslim population of the Netherlands.

"In the last century," says Aay, "Holland has often been seen as a model for all of Europe. Its soft drug initiatives and tolerance towards immigrants and asylum seekers have been seen as part Europe's modern future. However, since the Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh murders, Dutch public opinion has shifted and today some leaders argue that Dutch tolerance and multiculturalism have failed."

Mak explores the question, says Aay, of whether or not the Netherlands is still a model for Europe. Will Europe move in the same direction as the Netherlands or is this merely a Dutch disease?

National Sponsors for Mak's U.S. speaking tour include KLM, The Netherlands Translating and Production Fund and the Netherlands-America Foundation. The Netherlands Consulate, the Dutch International Society and the Association for the Advancement of Dutch Studies are regional sponsors.