Not ev­ery­thing glit­tered in Dutch ‘Golden Age’

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Valley Life - By MIKE CORDER

AM­S­TER­DAM — Not ev­ery­thing glit­tered in the 17th cen­tury when what is now the Nether­lands was a mer­can­tile, mil­i­tary and artis­tic su­per­power, so a Dutch mu­seum has de­cided to stop call­ing that era the “Golden Age.”

In a state­ment this week, Am­s­ter­dam Mu­seum cu­ra­tor Tom van der Molen said the term is strongly linked to na­tional pride over pros­per­ity and peace but “ig­nores the many neg­a­tive sides of the 17th cen­tury, such as poverty, war, forced la­bor and hu­man traf­fick­ing.”

The de­ci­sion has ig­nited some heated re­sponses, with Prime Min­is­ter Mark Rutte, who stud­ied Dutch his­tory in col­lege, on Fri­day call­ing the move “non­sense.”

“I’m a bit tired of dis­cus­sions about one term,” Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Arie Slob told re­porters in The Hague.

In a tweet, pop­ulist law­maker Thierry Baudet called the move “pure brain­wash­ing.”

The cen­tury saw traders from what was then called the Dutch Repub­lic fan out across the globe, bring­ing un­prece­dented af­flu­ence to cities like Am­s­ter­dam and Lei­den. Pain­ters Rem­brandt van Rijn and Jo­hannes Ver­meer pro­duced mas­ter­pieces and the coun­try be­came known as a bas­tion of cre­ativ­ity, free think­ing and re­li­gious tol­er­ance.

In re­cent years, how­ever, ac­tivists in the Nether­lands have pushed for more recog­ni­tion of the dark side of 17th-cen­tury Dutch pros­per­ity, in par­tic­u­lar the coun­try’s in­volve­ment in the slave trade.

The mu­seum said scrap­ping the Golden Age term is one step in a process aimed at mak­ing the mu­seum more in­clu­sive and giv­ing space to “peo­ple and sto­ries that have not yet, or not enough, been heard.”

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