Part of the ongoing controversy about Vlaams Belang, the Flemish separatist party, centers on a series of videos featuring Filip Dewinter, the leader of Vlaams Belang. An hour-long exposé entitled “The Hidden Side of Vlaams Blok” is one of the primary pieces of evidence cited against Filip Dewinter. The video is in French with Dutch subtitles, and the Center for Vigilant Freedom has been looking to obtain a translation.
Gates of Vienna’s Bangkok correspondent, the Dutch expatriate H. Numan, agreed to take on the task. First he watched a shorter trailer for the full video, and had this to say about it:
I looked at the short video. If this is racially offensive, I’m very much afraid the whole of Europe, and the better part of the United States, should be prosecuted for racial offenses…
You see Filip talking with his daughter(s). The look at the map of Europe, and Filip points that several countries belong to (the continent of) Europe. Then he points at Turkey. He clearly says ‘this country does not belong to Europe’.
His daughter mentions she has a girlfriend at school who comes from Turkey. And that she (the girlfriend) lives in Europe. Filip says that this not means that all Turks should become Europeans (EU citizens). His daughter questions this, as the girlfriend already lives in Europe. Filip says ‘then they have to make a choice’ (this part is unclear, but is that I make of it).
What Filip said here is the majority opinion of all Europeans, continent-wide. Check the statistics from every EU nation you desire, and you find at least a 55% majority against a Turkish EU membership.
The longer video has presented problems. Some viewers, including H. Numan, have been unable to get the video to play beyond the first three minutes, for unknown technical reasons. Mr. Numan sent us this from the introduction:
RTBF-journalist Jean-Claude Defossé bundelde de meest onthullende beelden uit de (voor)geschiedenis van het Vlaams Blok in deze spannende documentaire uit 2004. Tweemaal vertoond op de RTBF, nog nooit op het Vlaamse scherm. Naar verluidt omdat de Vlaamse kijker “dit toch allemaal al weet”.
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RTBF journalist Jean-Claude Defosee combined the most revealing images of the (pre) history of Vlaams Blok in this exiting documentary, made in 2004. Twice shown on RTBF, never shown on Flemish TV. As told because the Flemish viewer “knows this all along”.
We are awaiting a full transcription, hoping that the technical problems can be resolved. Watch the CVF blog for more materials as they become available.
In the meantime, H. Numan sent along this summary of Flemish history as told from a Dutch point of view:
Regarding the language problems:
Belgium is a country that unfortunately lies on the fault line between Latin and Germanic languages, something like the San Andreas Fault. This invisible boundary fluctuates: in medieval times French was spoken much further south. Part of Northern France, up to Calais, was also Dutch-speaking.
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The French steadily enlarged their kingdom northwards. The Dutch-speaking French were taken over in the 17-18th century, and remained primarily Dutch-speaking until the 1900s. Surprisingly, there is currently a revival of Dutch in that area.
The French lent their support to the Wallonian nobles, and in Belgium they became the dominant factor in politics. This happened during the second half of the Dutch Republic. (Think: Louis XIV, the Sun King)
Before the Dutch republic was taken over by the French, Belgium was incorporated into France, lock, stock and barrel.
After the French left, Belgium was briefly incorporated in the new kingdom of The Netherlands (hence the plural), together with Luxembourg. The latter was united as a personal domain of the King of Orange. Luxembourg law only accepts male inheritance to the throne, so King William III was the last Grand Duke. He had a daughter (Wilhelmina) who could not succeed to the throne of Luxembourg. Which was a good thing, otherwise we’d been fighting in WW1.
The kingdom of The Netherlands was formed as a boundary state against France. Of course that wasn’t exactly what the French really wanted, so on first opportunity they supported the (French-speaking) Belgian revolutionaries. Three small states on your border is much more comfortable than one big one, especially if they don’t speak your language and culture.
The Flemish have always been second citizens in their own country. For a long time the Dutch language was forbidden. It took quite a lot of nerve, stamina and persistence of the Flemish to get Dutch accepted as (second) official language, and as educational language.
In WW1 most enlisted men were Flemish, serving under French speaking Wallonian officers. An additional reason why Flemish aren’t enticed by Wallonians is that those enlisted men didn’t understand a word of what their officers wanted, and consequently died even more uselessly than the other allies. (Iepers, Passendaele, etc.)
After WW2 the Flemish had enough. They demanded, and got more to say about governing the nation and Flanders in particular. This didn’t come for free, and certainly not because the Wallonians were giving in. Every concession came at great cost.
The economic center of gravity, however, changed from Wallonia to Flanders. Currently Flanders is the engine that runs the Belgian ship of state, with the Wallonians as cruise passengers doing not a lot.
Vlaams Belang doesn’t want to be united with The Netherlands. Perhaps in the (far away) future, but certainly not now. The Netherlands would like to see Flanders inside the kingdom once again. But I think that is highly unrealistic. The political differences are vast. The common language is the only tie we have.
Vlaams Belang would like to see a Republic of Flanders. All the other parties do not. As Vlaams Belang certainly has a lot of very good arguments to support their position, and the others do not, the best way to oppose them is tar them as black as coal. Which is exactly what this movie does.