The Dutch Academy vs. The Heretic

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.


YernazThe leftward tilt of American universities is a nightmare. But at least American college students have places to turn to – groups like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and websites like Minding the Campus – when things get blatantly unjust or just plain unbearable.

But what can college students in a country like the Netherlands do when they want to push back against professorial PC?

Meet Yernaz Ramautarsing. Born in the former Dutch colony of Surinam in 1987, he was raised in Amsterdam – and grew up into a political junkie and a solid left-winger. “I was terribly left-wing,” he told me the other day. “Intoxicated by the Cuban Revolution. I always said I wanted to be president of Surinam.”

In his late teens, he spent nine months in Surinam. During that time his brother, who didn’t share his leftist politics, sent him an English-language paperback of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Yernaz read it.  “Everything I thought was blown away,” he said. Rand became his heroine.

That was seven years ago.

When the time came to go to college, Yernaz studied government and political science at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) – where, as he discovered, one wall featured a framed picture of Karl Marx and professors routinely described the United States as a backward country. Yernaz has since called UvA “a safe environment for the establishment’s shoeshine boys.” In a recent interview with a student paper, he complained that at UvA “the premise of lectures is always leftist,” as a result of which students lacking in strong political foundations can easily be lead down the garden path to Marxism. (A UvA spokesperson called the charge “nonsense.”)

At UvA, Yernaz’s forthrightly pro-capitalist, pro-American views – as rare as a sunny Amsterdam day in December – made him a visible figure. Last February, he publicly debated Hans Achterhuis, one of the Netherlands’ most respected philosophers and the author of an anti-capitalist book, The Utopia of the Free Market, in which Ayn Rand figures as the Devil Incarnate. By all accounts, Yernaz, a mere undergraduate, did a smash-up job of defending Rand against Achterhuis. Then, in April, a friend of his texted him about something one of her professors had said in class: that he hoped opponents of the European Union would die soon. Yernaz decided it was time to do something about such ideological bullying by people who were being paid to teach, not brainwash. So he did exactly what any other member of his generation with a strong conviction would do: he started a Facebook page.

The page is called “Links indoctrinatie op mijn universiteit” – “Left-wing indoctrination at my university.” Dutch students are invited to report outrageous statements made by their professors. Yernaz has drawn criticism for his initiative: a writer at the website of VU University in Amsterdam called him a “new Joe McCarthy.” But he’s also amassed a fine little collection of testimonies. A veteran foreign-policy bigwig asked students at Radboud University in Nijmegen: “Why did the Russians win World War II? Because they had completely planned production….That’s what a planned economy is good for.” A professor of jurisprudence at UvA described supporters of Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party as tokkies – a pejorative term along the lines of “lowlife” or “white trash.” A professor of international relations in Utrecht mocked the idea of allowing his ordinary, man-in-the-street inferiors to vote in referendums, saying: “Do we really want to know what the people think of immigration?” A UvA history prof made anti-Israel comments and when a student demurred, the prof said: “You have to realize that UvA is a left-wing progressive university.” And a prof in Nijmegen, after stating that Germany didn’t have a party like Wilders’s, corrected himself: “Well, the Nazis.”

Contributions have also come in from secondary-school students. A girl at St. Ignatiusgymnasium in Amsterdam was told by her biology teacher: “You’re too intelligent to be a right-winger. You really should check out a Green Party convention.” Another secondary-school student asked a philosophy teacher why all the French thinkers they were discussing in class were leftists. The teacher’s reply: “Because they’re right.”

Last week was a big one for Yernaz and his Facebook page. After De Volkskrant ran a piece about it on Thursday, Yernaz was invited to appear that evening on a popular national TV discussion program. He ended up making a fool out of a fellow guest, legendary Dutch entertainer Freek de Jonge – a smug lefty of a certain age who is used to having his opinions applauded, not challenged. (Think Barbra Streisand.) De Jonge, who oozed confidence at the outset of the exchange, plainly thought he could dismiss Yernaz with a couple of snotty putdowns; instead, he ended up being handily dispatched by the young upstart. Indeed, De Jonge revealed himself – or, rather, Yernaz revealed De Jonge – to be one of those proudly outspoken lockstep leftists who are so accustomed to being agreed with that, when actually challenged, they prove utterly incapable of defending their views.

Anyway, it was a remarkable spectacle – David slaying Goliath. Overnight, Yernaz became a hero to a whole big swath of politically incorrect Dutchmen. Fan mail poured in. The Facebook page jumped overnight from around 400 likes to over 2000.

Yernaz’s triumph over de Jonge may have stunned people who thought he was just some guy with a gimmick – a cheesy Facebook page that would give him fifteen minutes of fame. But to those who’d read his essays for the conservative website Dagelijkse Standaard, his sharp TV performance doubtless came as no surprise. This is a fellow who, back in August, published an article entitled “Ramadan doesn’t deserve respect, but contempt.” Noting that Muslims can use their smartphones to find out when they can break fast during Ramadan, Yernaz pinpointed the contrast between the creativity and profit motive that made the smartphone possible and the ideology of obedience and submission that underlies Ramadan. Addressing Muslims, he said: “You literally hold the choice between modernity and pre-modernity in the palm of your hand.”

Yernaz is now expanding his Facebook page to cover the Dutch-speaking half of Belgium, too. He wants it to gain enough influence that teachers will be afraid of it – so afraid that maybe they’ll even put a non-socialist writer or two on their course syllabi. And who knows? Maybe the site can even help push the Dutch Parliament to investigate the radical partiality of university curricula. (The overwhelming majority of Dutch universities are public.)

As for his future beyond UvA, from which he’ll graduate next July, Yernaz would love to be in politics – but none of the major Dutch parties are pro-capitalist enough for him. “One of the parties will have to move toward me, or I’ll have to start my own,” he told me with a laugh. What about the Freedom Party? Well, he said, Geert Wilders is an amazing politician, and is strong on Islam and the EU, “but his economic policy is way too left-wing….I think Wilders is afraid that if he goes too far to the right on economics he’ll lose his base.” If a political career doesn’t seem viable, he may start a think tank. In any case, he’ll definitely keep writing. Whichever direction he ends up taking, though, one thing’s for sure: he’s only begun to show how much difference one gutsy, dissenting voice for freedom can make.

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  • Steven Plaut

    The Dutch housing bolshevism policies may be the stupidest set of policies on the face of the planet. By comparison, thought censorship in this case is small change.

  • clemetine ford

    we own dutch land-no god dm jews..

    • 1Indioviejo1

      Another insane bigot. Why the Jews?

      • Demetrius Minneapolis

        Oh he won’t respond. He made his ignorant comment designed to upset readers and now he is gone. No guts to stick around and defend his lackluster (even for a troll) comment.

        Come on back Clemetine, would love to straighten you out boy.

  • 1Indioviejo1

    Man was made for freedom. Some will even fight for it.

  • scooby

    Can anyone translate the Dutch TV program with this student (it’s on YOUTUBE) and put in English subtitles?

  • Michael_van_der_Galien

    Thank you for spending some time and attention to ‘our’ Yernaz Ramautarsing. He’s a very talented and passionate defender of individual liberty.

    Michael van der Galien
    (Managing Editor De Dagelijkse Standaard and occasional FPM contributor)

  • Donald J DaCosta

    A great uplifting story for a disgruntled American. That would be me. I just posted the following on the Facebook pages of The Republican Party, The Tea Party and Truthrevolt.Org.

    In my view, if we are to survive a 40 year onslaught designed to destroy the Founder’s unique vision of America, that would be the vision that created the most free, most innovative, wealthiest and most powerful nation on the planet in a little over 200 years, this is where the Right has to go and this is where patriotic Americans looking for a worthy cause to support should consider donating some of their diminishing discretionary cash, assuming they still have any.

    The “Left,” i.e., those American citizens and their allies who hate America, are diabolically clever and leagues ahead of the Right when it comes to the science of agitprop and indoctrination; infiltrate and gain control of the private and public sectors known to exercise the most influence on the American culture; Academia, media of all types (print, television and film) and flood the culture
    with it’s vile, vitriolic, hate filled rhetoric against all that made this country great. Think about it. A very small percentage of the total population intimately familiar with the power of mass marketing and the wherewithal and skill to use it effectively. And they have succeeded, admirably, because they’ve commandeered the venues that the majority of Americans unconsciously use to develop their political views; primary, secondary and college level education and the entertainment media. That they have used massive deception, lies and vicious character assassination goes unchallenged by a feckless Right who struggle and search for a niche where they can defend themselves while bending over backwards to avoid being portrayed as the evil demons they’re regularly accused of being. Ineffective, perpetual defense against very effective, perpetual, unchallenged offense.

    If David Horowitz’s Truthrevolt.org gains traction this is about to change though his approach will undoubtedly be condemned by the current, weak kneed, republican establishment who’ve yet to figure out that offense is the best defense.

    Meet fiesty, 29 year old Ben Shapiro who is about to take it to the Left’s smear machine. A David vs Goliath for sure but for those old enough to know better, bullies, including the verbally abusive ones, are not deterred with lofty, diplomatic, politically correct admonitions and esoteric statements of basic principles. They laugh derisively and are encouraged to double down and make them “eat their words.” This version of the Left are expert gutter fighters and the new Right has to develop and grow their own attack machine, as fearless, smug and vitriolic as America’s enemies.

    The underlying power of this “in your face” approach is the Right can use the ugly truth and it is the only approach, short of armed revolt, that can achieve a meaningful result over a period of decades and decades is what it’s going to take. A win for the Right in 2014 and 2016, without the growth of this kind of approach will quickly revert to a return of the Left in subsequent elections after
    their smear machine reduces the winners to feckless, heartless, idiots that even their own supporters will eagerly abandon before the post election hoopla has ended.

    Here’s an introductory video from David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend of Ben Shapiro and Jeremy Boreing, our new, official, Right Wing, attack dogs. David Horowitz has been at it since he had an epiphany and deserted his Leftist
    radicals a few decades ago. Get familiar with Truthrevolt.org.

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/frontpagemag-com/the-birth-of-truthrevolt/?utm_source=FrontPage+Magazine&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=131679d231-Mailchimp_FrontPageMag&utm_term=0_57e32c1dad-131679d231-156560113

    • Father Dacius

      I fear your armed revolt alternative is the only one left to us.

      • Donald J DaCosta

        You may be right but I sincerely hope not.

        • Father Dacius

          Me too.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    Inspiring!

  • umbrarchist

    Going from dumb to dumber? LOL

    44 years after the Moon landing and what do Capitalists, Communists or Socialists have to say about Planned obsolescence? No one can discuss Demand Side Depreciation in decades. How do we fix turning the planet’s natural resources into garbage with any ideology?

    • reader
      • umbrarchist

        I was certainly never a watcher of Seinfeld. Our Nobel Prize winning economists can’t specify what the world has lost on the depreciation of automobiles every year since the Moon landing. What did cars do before the Moon landing?

        • reader

          Take accounting 101, sip a glass of wine, don’t forget your meds and sleep better: the world did not lose anything on depreciation of automobiles neither before nor after the Moon landing.

          • umbrarchist

            Accounting courses are mostly aimed at people who want to make a living as accountants. I have one book that sold for $100. It doesn’t have the Basic Accounting Equation until page 46 or mention depreciation until after page 400. Education is mostly about making money off people that need to be educated and dribbles out information.

            People who don’t want to be accountants could learn accounting and put lots of accountants out of work. Who needs them making the simple complicated?

            The people who owned the cars lost on depreciation before and after the Moon landing. Play word games with someone else pretending you did not know what I meant. Strictly speaking THE WORLD doesn’t own anything.

          • reader

            And what about the masterminds benefiting at the expense of the people owning cars? Do they use public transit?