My illusions have been shattered! I thought the Netherlands were sort of a utopian paradise of tie-dyed tolerance. All that pot, Amsterdam’s Rosse Buurt and legalized prostitution throughout the country, legalized euthanasia, the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages, the World Court in the Hague, one of the most secular countries in the world, cheery, eco-conscious and thrifty…
But just like Los Angeles is not comprised entirely of movie stars, people wanting to be movie stars, or people wanting to have sex with movie stars, not everyone in the Netherlands is all free thinking, open-minded, and green. A strict Calvinist school with branches in four cities ordered 3,000 school date-keepers, designed by students, destroyed because they featured a peace symbol. The dairies cost €15,000–about $20,000. As the progressive, ecumenical Christian website Goedgelovig, which broke the story via a source involved with the Pieter Zandt schools, explains:
Six students have put their heart and soul into putting together a calendar with sound tips, jokes, Bible texts and images. Quite a nice initiative…
School board chair Johan van Putten told Dutch newspaper Trouw that he realized destroying the offending diaries was a waste of good paper and a bad example for students, adding
This hurts a little, but you will understand that we had the choice between two evils.
Okay wait, back up. €15,000 worth of mandatory diaries–it had been decided that students should have date books to keep track of assignments and their schedules–designed by students were destroyed and new undecorated date books purchased at an additional cost because of a peace symbol,worn on the shirt of student in photograph on the back of the booklet.
Goedgelovig’s source says:
Apparently the sustainable management of the creation is irrelevant….What counts is a handful of small-minded parents who see something occult in a multi-interpretable sign. That is the creative product of six students nullif[ied]…It’s too weird for words!
It’s not that the sandy-pantied parents who complained are opposed to peace, but rather they claim that the peace symbol is a deep dark sign of evil occultism. When confronted with these claims, school board chairman van Putten did what any responsible educator would do. He consulted Google.
But at least he ignored Wikipedia, the bane of educators everywhere. Accord to Trouw, van Putten learned on the interwebs that
the peace symbol is a ‘Nero cross’ which in Roman times represented the torture and killing of Christians and has now come to be associated with Satanists.
According to more than one website associated with afraid-of-their-own-shadow Christians, everyone-else-is-a-shape-shifting-flesh-eating-reptile-or-member-of-the-Illuminati, Miley-Cyrus-is-a-tool-of-MKULTRA-Monarch program, and the Oh-noes!-New-World-Order movements, the peace symbol is fer realz major sign of evil, anti-Christian beliefs. (I had to search on American Google, but there’s probably some, shall we say, crossover).
Clearly for these nervous believers, words and symbols never change meaning with time, and everything is written stone. Except then how do you explain the differences between various translations of the Bible over the centuries? In the King James Version satyrs once frolicked across Babylon. I thought satyrs were originally indigenous to the Greek peninsula, and through Roman conquest migrated west and north into Italy and up into Europe. I am glad the Bible lets us know they were also found in the badlands of the Semitic lands.
According to history as viewed through these strange fundamentalist, paranoid prisms, what we call the peace symbol is a sign fraught with a whole collection of historically wicked meanings, knowingly co-opted by Gerald Herbert Holtom and the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War with the support of evil socialist vegetarian (and if you want to believe those car crashes on the information highway, Satanist) Bertrand Russell, all to bring about Bad Things.
This boggles the mind. And it also makes me wonder–the student who was photographed wearing the shirt with the peace symbol on it: Has he been ostracized by some of the students who have been ordered by their paranoid parents to avoid him?
Goedgelovig reports that the school has tried to hush up the destruction of the datebooks, which begs the question about how proud they actually are about their actions against (allegedly) evil imagery. Only two tweets about allegedly Satanic symbol scandal have leaked out, but Goedgelovig obtained and has posted the school’s official diary recall letter (the comments on Goedgelovig are awesome). The story was picked up by several Dutch news sites, including the English language DutchNews.dl.