How much does an Allochtoon cost? This question was weighed, albeit two years ago, in all earnest by Jan H. van de Beek, a mathematician and cultural anthropologist at the University of Amsterdam. In an article concerning Van de Beek’s research into the monetary value of bodies of colour Camilia Bruil of the prof.mr.B.M. Teldersstichting writes wistfully that,
“Unfortunately, Van de Beek left the question of how much an immigrant costs and how such a cost-benefit analysis should be made unanswered. Perhaps, continuing research will be able to supply answers to these questions.”
For the record, the prof.mr. B.M. Teldersstichting is affiliated with the Dutch political party VVD, which is, incidentally, the party of current demissionary prime minister Mark “Captain Save-a-Hollander” Rutte.
Let me stress, I’m talking here about the very same Mark Rutte who was granted a platform at Keti Koti this year, where he gave a weak speech in which he matter-of-factly stated that NiNsee shouldn’t hope for a subsidy: that well has run dry. Remember? Nevertheless, Rutte received a warm applause after which he made a quick exist. He had better things to do.
At any rate, Van de Beek might not have been able to figure out how much an Allochtoon costs, but that hasn’t stopped folks from entertaining the question. De Balie, a supposedly “progressive” institution, is organizing a debate in which the same question is posed, although using a different phrasing: Immi-gratis?
One of the panellists Joost Niemöller asserts in an apocalyptically dramatic tone that,
“We know that immigration is detrimental to the Netherlands, both economically and socially, however, we have no say in the matter anymore. Immigration is inevitable.” (“We weten dat Nederland er op achteruitgaat door immigratie, zowel op economisch als sociaal gebied, maar we hebben niets meer over te willen. De immigratie is onvermijdelijk.”)
Aside: Joost Niemöller has recently written a book in which he argues that the integration of Allochtonen failed due to our lower IQ.
If you were on the fence about immigration, then Joost Niemöller’s defeatist resignation of accepting the established reality of “IMMIGRATION IS INEVITABLE” might just push you on the side of anti-immigration sentiments, I suspect.
Aside: “Immigration is inevitable” is right there next to “Resistance is futile.”
We all know by now that all this talk about immigrants being a burden is just codespeak for saying “I dislike foreigners; they need to go back from whence they came. Stat.” Teun van Dijk writes that, “many forms of the new racism are discursive: they are expressed, enacted and confirmed by text and talk, such as everyday conversations, board meetings, job interviews, policies, laws, parliamentary debates, political propaganda, textbooks, scholarly articles, movies, TV programmes and news reports in the press, among hundreds of other genres. They appear mere talk, and far removed from the open violence and forceful segregation of the old racism.”
Talking is not an innocent act; through talking we create the epistemological framework in which it is perfectly “natural” – dare I say it, “normal” – to engage in this type of racist discourse. Discursive racism shapes the beliefs, knowledge, attitudes of people.
Now, what is the social value of producing this knowledge? Why is it important to know how much an Allochtoon costs? This colonial epistemology only serves to re-establish and re-affirm the centre as the arbiter of worth.
Western epistemology is centred on using quantitative and computational methods to determine worth or relevancy. We only need to look back at slavery, and the ensuing system of production, not to mention the whole narrative concerning “productivity” and “efficiency” and all that human resource managerial claptrap.
An epistemological shift would be a decolonization of Western knowledge production, which entails critically engaging the Western conception of reason, the same reason Western philosophers used to determine that Black people weren’t *really* humans.
There are people on Facebook who suggested we engage these folks, that we do some talking with them. It seems that racism in the Netherlands is now a democratic affair. All opinions matter equally. Let’s debate “objectively” the humanity of people of colour, like the Catholic Church, with a panel and a Q & A afterwards.
Rietje Greeskes’ comment:
Well. On their website it seems like it’s going to be a two-sided discussion about the costs and benefits, not a lecture about price tags attached to people? And even if that is true, I think, it is good to talk about this. And Niemöller will face some opposition. But I don’t get what it has to do with that film – these two cases are pretty unrelated, right?
However, not all opinions are asked for, or cited. There is a politics of citation that grants certain opinions primacy. Whose opinion is asked first? And how does that opinion circulate in media discourse?
At any rate, by talking with asshats like Joost Niemöller we are granting these ideologies legitimacy. We actively implicate ourselves in upholding the discursive and cognitive hegemony, the politics of citation. We are basically saying that it is perfectly fine to engage in these “cognitive management” techniques.
Van Dijk further states that, “these forms of discursive racism in the lives of members of minority groups are hardly discursive: they may not be let into the country, the city or the neighbourhood, or will not get a house or a job.” So, no. I won’t engage these folks by debating them. I won’t debate someone who questions my humanity, no matter how “serious” or “professional” the setting.