56 percent of the Dutch think that the Netherlands has played a serious or very serious role in slavery. At the same time, an almost equal percentage, 55%, believes that the Dutch State does not have to apologize for this role. 31 percent think that excuses are necessary. This is evident from a poll by I&O Research commissioned by Trouw.
Divided into the background of the respondents, there is a clear difference: of the Dutch without a migration background, 62 percent find excuses unnecessary, in people with a Surinamese, Antillean, Turkish or Moroccan background around 20 percent find that the Netherlands does not you have to make excuses.
The Netherlands has never wanted to formally apologize for its role in slavery, but the government has expressed regret. After last summer‘s Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Rutte once again wanted to know nothing about excuses.
According to Rutte, apologies would lead to polarization, and he said, “If I do it, who do I do it for, who do I offer them to? And how far back do we have to go?” However, a ‘consultative college dialogue group on slavers‘ was created.
Role of cities
Amsterdam and Rotterdam are considering formally apologizing. Only one in five Dutch thinks that excuses from cities are in place, according to the poll.
Last year’s research shows that Amsterdam and Rotterdam were closely involved in slavery and benefited from this. As a result, the Amsterdam and Rotterdam colleges are considering whether an apology is being offered. If Amsterdam decides to do so, it is likely that this will happen at Keti Koti on 1 July, if the abolition of slavery is celebrated.
Asked about the reasons why there should be no apologies, interviewees say that you can‘t make excuses for something that previous generations have done (61 percent) or, like Rutte, that polarization is encouraged (45 percent).
Dutch people who are in favour of excuses say that this is acknowledged (75 percent), that it is important for raising awareness of history (70 percent) and that it helps to combat racism in the future (58 percent).
Rutte still doesn’t feel for excuses
Rutte reiterated today that he is not in favour of excuses and that the Cabinet does not intend to offer them anyway.
He called the slavery past a black page in our history. But the Prime Minister said he was reluctant to make excuses as a current generation for what happened then. By the way, Rutte expressed his understanding for people who want to.
He added: “The risk of the debate on racism and discrimination is that it will be caught by the flanks. The 70 to 80 percent of the Netherlands, the decent people who condemn racism and discrimination and find slavery reprehensible, will be lost if it becomes a discussion conducted only from the extremes.”