Monday, November 22, 2004

Shake hands!

Be sure never to refuse to shake hands with a Dutch cabinet minister. You might cause a national row. Now an extremely conservative imam did this, and this was, of course, a very inappropriate behaviour. After all, western women who go to arab countries are supposed to veal themselves, and to wear decent clothes. Men should also comply to certain forms of behaviour, so why shouldn't we demand a similar form of respect in return? And though in our democracies cabinet ministers are considered 'primes inter pares' rather than highly placed authorities, a minimum of politeness and decorum is required with regard to 'those who are placed above us', as Theo van Gogh used to call these persons. So it is indeed a very rude, inpolite and disrespectfull behaviour of this imam to refuse to shake hands of the minister, however much we may dislike her policies.

Still, these are confusing times. To hear a rap band singing 'We are against senseless violence' and thus up the very 'dissing' which made rap so popular is strange, if not quite incredible, indeed. But that's maybe only me, old grumpy man who expects representatives of cultural movements or subcultures to stick to some of their principles instead of paying lip service to common wisdom.

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