Dutch city decides to ‘diversify’ street names because too many honor ‘white Western men’

Dutch city decides to ‘diversify’ street names because too many honor ‘white Western men’
The liberal council of Rotterdam has passed a new “diversity” measure which ensures that all new streets in the densely populated Dutch city will be named to reflect the its “cultural diversity.”

A year after the proposal was introduced by Councilor Nadia Arsieni of the “liberal progressive” D66 party, Rotterdam City Council has confirmed that it’s adopting the measure.

(The initiative to rename more streets to female and culturally diverse heroes has been embraced! Nice that @bertwijbenga has accepted the proposal from @D66Rotterdam, @groenlinksrdam @pvdarotterdam @SPRotterdam @NidaRotterdam)

In order to give substance to more cultural diversity, the policy rules stipulate that the attribution of names of women and other underrepresented groups from society should be preferred for personal names,” Rotterdam’s Deputy Mayor Bert Wijbenga wrote in a letter to the City Council.

An abundance of streets named in honor of white men is historically understandable, a pamphlet on the initiative admits. However, it adds that “women and people with a migrant background” have come to make up a huge portion of the population in the last few decades, and “they deserve recognition in the streets… and are a source of inspiration.

(New streets in Rotterdam will be named after women and minorities)

Rotterdam is one of the most heavily migrant-populated cities in Europe, with nearly half of its population being foreign-born. The demographics of the city have shifted dramatically in recent years, particularly around its massive port, which is the largest in Europe.

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While the politicians congratulated themselves on the effort to back diversity, a number of their constituents were not as thrilled. Many commenters on Twitter felt that the initiative was “erasing” Dutch history. They also questioned why gender and skin-color should be deemed more decisive than what a person actually contributed toDutch society.

Although they were probably not what the council had in mind, some people had suggestions for possible street names.

(I would say, the Saddam Hussein or Muammar Mohammed al-Gaddafi way.)

(So no Ché Guévara street, anymore but Margaret Thatcher street? @dtv)

Efforts to reflect the country’s evolving demographics may not be enough to quell the divisions developing in Rotterdam as a result of radical cultural differences. In 2015, the city’s Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb – a Muslim himself – became enraged in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo scandal telling the country’s Muslims “who do not like freedom” to “vanish from the Netherlands” and “f*ck off” if they are unable to integrate.

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