Wednesday 6 February 2008

Villagism, worse than provincialism

"Precedence - Some local governments (in Flanders, mostly Dutch speaking northern part of Belgium, ed.) are planning to yield preference to those able to demonstrate a personal link with the city/village when selling construction plots.

Do you consider this measure discriminatory?"

That's the question De Standaard, arguably the most respected Dutch speaking newspaper in Belgium, is asking its readers in a poll. More than half of the readers see no problem with the measure.

One doesn't have to _consider_ it discriminatory, positive discrimination of locals simply _is_ discriminatory. "Do you consider this discrimination morally wrong?" would have been a more appropriate question.

I can appreciate the longing many people have for their idyllised old Flemish city or village, much of its particular language and many of its habits, village madmen, church tower cafes and shops, breweries, fritkoten,... long gone. But please, no cerebral arteriosclerosis!

(This message in English for my many friends with no command of the Dutch language.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you're simplifying a bit. Do you think that giving social benefits to locals only (the job of the OCMW/CPAS) is discrimination?

Also, the requirement that you have a link with the region, or 'village', if you wish, at least has the advantage of being objective. Much will depend on how this is understood.

For example, wouln't it be reasonable to give priority to people who work in the neighbourhood, and therefore have created a 'link' with the village?

I just hope that you don't think that this rule means that there is some ethnic element in this rule, because then you would be the one who is discriminating, by thinking that non-natives cannot have a link with the 'village'.

I know, in theory, this may well result in discrimination. However, before you judge this you should think about what this measure is trying to achieve, and how it will work in practice.