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Kerim’s Triptych for Sunday, November 26th, 2023

Kerim’s Triptych for Sunday, November 26th, 2023

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Item 1: The “Indo” Geert Wilders

Although it remains to be seen if he can put together a coalition government, the far-right politician Geert Wilders won the recent elections in the Netherlands. This article, from 2009, looks into how his family’s Indo background has shaped his politics. According to Wikipedia, “the term refers to people in the former Dutch East Indies who held European legal status but were of mixed Dutch and indigenous Indonesian descent as well as their descendants today.” In this sense it is somewhat akin to the pieds-noirs of Algeria.

Probably the most famous Indo of all time was the rock musician Eddie Van Halen, and there are some interesting articles about how he was shaped by his Indo heritage. He was one of the many who suffered racism and so ended up living outside the Netherlands after Indonesia became independent. But many of the Indos who stayed in the Netherlands responded to this racism by becoming even more patriotic and more racist than everyone else. They were strong supporters of colonial rule and far right parties.

The article argues that,

More than anything, Wilders can be understood as a postcolonial revanchist, obsessed as he is with the winding back of post war geopolitical and demographic change and the ‘correction of historical mistakes’. Revenge and extreme patriotism in the form of the ‘maintenance of one’s own dominant culture’, the ‘rescue of specific European values’, and the ‘turning back of Islam’ form the neo-colonial drivers that he appears to have borrowed from the Indies NSB.

Item 2: The Republican Thanksgiving Meal

A lot has been written about the early colonial origins of Thanksgiving, but it actually only became a national holiday after the US Civil War. Largely through the efforts of one woman: Sarah Josepha Hale, who was the editor of a popular women’s magazine. In this article by Rachel Laudan she discusses how the recipes promoted at the time, including by Hale, were affordable “Republican” versions of the kinds of meals that the elite would have eaten at the time.

Turkey, by the mid nineteenth century, becoming affordable and readily available, allowed the whole family generous servings of meat. Gravy was a democratized version of the richer sauces of high cuisine that used expensive wine and stock, as a relish of native cranberries is an accessible version of a long tradition of sweet sour fruit sauces that stretch back through medieval Europe to Islam. Everyday vegetables such as onions and sweet potato were a far cry from the asparagus and peas of high cuisine, as sturdy pies of pumpkin and apple were from fancy molded desserts.

Item 3: Brave New World: The Filmstrip

Dukane Record Automatic Filmstrip Projector
Dukane Record Automatic Filmstrip Projector

Filmstrips, an antiquated education technology that involved a kind of slide show with a pre-recorded narration, were still in use when I was in school, though I can only remember them ever being used in one of my classes. (I think it was a sex-ed class? Perhaps the old technology was seen as being more acceptable?) So I got a kick out of this filmstrip version of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel, Brave New World. It’s a

17 minute adaptation of the 311-page tome. As the filmstrip goes on, you can just tell how low-budget an effort this was. Real-life actors are used, but the story is completely narrated. The images appear to have been taken in a cramped office space with minimal set decoration. We're treated to many close-up shots of the actors, which was probably another cost cutting measure. Add to that the insane electronic soundtrack, much of which is apparently lifted from A Clockwork Orange, and you've got quite the filmstrip experience. Despite all that, it just works somehow.

It was originally in color, but the colors have all faded so it is now in black and white.


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