“As a politician, Barack Obama may be inspiring, but in terms of racial politics he's little better than Joran van der Sloot,” says columnist Perro de Jong.
Forteiland is a tiny island off IJmuiden, with an abandoned 19th-century fortress. Researchers armed with voice recorders and infrared cameras went out there recently. When they switched on their equipment inside the fortress, they heard a dog howl. It was half past nine at night. Apart from the researchers, not a soul was on the island...
Now why should I give less credence to this story than to the other shaggy dog tale that's been doing the rounds here this week, involving one Joran van der Sloot?
You can listen to recordings of the dog howling on the internet, just like you can watch Joran's sensational hidden-camera confession about the much-publicized disappearance of American tourist Natalee Holloway three years ago. But the mere fact that it's on tape doesn't mean it's true. Personally, I'll believe in the existence of an invisible dog before I believe a single word Joran says.
Mind you, I'm not saying that he's innocent. Far from it. For one thing, he's guilty of doing things to the Dutch language that I find a lot scarier than the howling of any ghostly canine.
Watching Joran try to impress the friend who secretly filmed him reminded me uncannily of Vanilla Ice. The rapper, I mean. In case that was before your time, he had a hit when the charts still catered to rich white people who wanted to tap into the buzz of rap music without being confronted with anything as outlandish as an actual black person.
Joran van der Sloot grew up on the Caribbean island of Aruba, which is Dutch through some strange historical coincidence that no doubt involves centuries of slavery, suppression and other forms of political incorrectness. So he speaks Dutch...but not as we know it Jim.
As the son of a rich Dutch lawyer, Joran is about as far removed from the life of the street as Mike Huckabee is from joining the Gay and Lesbian Association of America. But, hey, why should he let that stop him?
It's all pimps, hoes, drugs, casinos, doing shots and coñjos for our boy. Not to mention the world's most pathetic excuse for a goatee. Normally, of course, he'd have little chance of impressing anybody with that. And even the so-called friend who kept on flattering him only did so because he was secretely recording the whole thing and knew that immortal fame was just around the corner.
But still, being branded a dangerous murderer does have its advantages, and I'm sure there are lots of people in the Netherlands who actually fell for it. 'Joranspeak' has already begun to enter the common parlance.
What I'd love to know is what real Arubans think of his command of their lingo and their lifestyle...and of the fact that his attempts to appear cool and Caribbean included the unspoken assumption that getting rid of a dead girl's body and leading the police down the garden path for three years is the cat's pyjamas.
I'm sure that even the notorious statement by Geert Wilders' party that the Dutch Antilles - of which Aruba used to be one - are nothing but a hotbed of crooks and robbers that should be auctioned off on eBay as soon as possible would strike people as less toe-curlingly offensive than Joran van der Sloot's desperate attempts to be one of the guys.
There's always something worse, though, as was demonstrated by the circus over the Super Tuesday votes in the United States. As a politician, Barack Obama may be inspiring, but in terms of racial politics he's little better than Joran van der Sloot.
Modern racial reflexes
In a country where racial issues have to be handled sensitively - and for good reasons - Mr Obama's little dance a while ago on the Oprah Winfrey show would have been oddly stereotype-confirming if it hadn't been for one of the unspoken truths of his campaign. Which is that African Americans probably don't vote for Obama because he's black - or rather, ever so slightly darker than Michael Jackson - but because of what he's actually saying, and that it's on the contrary the white voters who are obsessed by as well as strangely attracted to his skin colour.
Yup, it's Vanilla Ice all over again...
Meanwhile I've been keeping busy not with Joran or Obama or an invisible dog or even Snoop Doggy Dogg but with a dog that is anything but ghostly.
The latest addition to the De Jong household is a Cavalier King Charles spaniel by the unlikely name of Mister Gentle. But don't be fooled by the fact that he doesn't have a name that drips with street credibility like Satan or Adolf of 50 Cents. Mister Gentle's bite is much worse than his bark....unlike that of Joran van der Sloot.
8 February 2008
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]
Disclaimer : The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Expatica.