For another St. Valentine’s Day treat, here’s an entertaining story (three stories, actually) from our Dutch correspondent H. Numan.
Being progressive for fun and profit
by H. Numan
Last week something funny happened. I’d like to share this chuckle with you. What happened? A bakery in the village of Monster in South Holland announced it had been harassed by extreme right-wing villagers. Consequently the baker closed his business, for safety reasons. Why was this baker harassed? He didn’t want to sell the highly racist ‘moorkoppen’ (Moorish heads) anymore. He had renamed them roomkoppen (cream puffs). Enraged villagers threatened him with violence. Hence he had to close his business. The media lapped it up as if were it moorkoppen. The same evening he was interviewed on TV. ‘Beware of extreme right-wing violence’ was the message. But not all is as it appears to be…
What’s a moorkop? Delicious, of course! It is a profiterole covered with chocolate. The name Moorish head isn’t centuries old, but quite old. According to Wikipedia it dates back to about 1920. Racist? Well, anything you want can be racist.
Beauty Racism is in the eye of the beholder.
The media loved this act of racist Dutch violence. See? We were right all along. That sort of thing. So they didn’t do their homework. A progressive journalist doing fact-checking first? That’s for dummies. We bring you the real truth! Not all the media are progressive, so pretty soon the truth came out.
The baker was a vegan. Vegans are not necessarily extreme left-wing, missionary and obnoxious. Though I have yet to meet one that isn’t. This one was no exception. Being a vegan bakery is pretty much a political statement. He probably knows a lot about progressive politics, but not much about running a business. The poor harassed vegan baker was poor indeed, as he was near bankruptcy. He didn’t have any money for advertising. So he resorted to a clever trick. He renamed his moorkoppen as roomkoppen. Announced to the press he was harassed over his decision, and consequently closed his shop for safety reasons. That gave him a moment of prime time on national TV.
The journalists who did investigate quickly found out that only one or two (no more) customers told him they didn’t like his name change. That was all. Nothing more. On TV he wasn’t asked anything inquisitive at all; he was a poor oppressed victim of right-wing extremism. So they changed the one or two less satisfied customers in hordes of extreme right-wing activists.
What’s the end of the story? Well, nothing much, of course. The police now protect his bakery. They installed a video camera. The baker didn’t apologize for his blatant lie. Nor did the media. I doubt very much if he gained anything out of it. Monster is a tiny village. I lived nearby; it’s close to The Hague, within easy cycling distance. I’m not sure if the villagers like to be called extreme right-wing hooligans. Even if they frequent vegan bakeries. The Dutch FDA did forbid our progressive baker to call his moorkoppen roomkoppen, as they don’t contain any cream. That was all. On the very next day HEMA, a large store with lots of branches, announced they no longer will sell moorkoppen. From now on, they call them chocolate balls.
The HEMA is a large store that sells almost everything. Their strength is low price and fairly reasonable to decent quality. The abbreviation stands for Hollandse Eenheidsprijzen Maatschappij or Dutch single price company. If any company is Dutch, they are. And they are deeply ashamed of it. They want to be young, hip, and progressive. So their marketing department got to work on it. They launched a campaign in 2007-8, El HEMA, in which they went 100% mohammedan. Literally everything possible — up to being ridiculous — was changed into something promoting or resembling islam. For example, the Dutch love to give/eat letters made out of chocolate on Sinterklaas. So the HEMA added Arab letters to their collection. And made sure everything was clearly marked halal. Clothing was developed along this line with Arabic symbols, letters and much more.