Is Mark Rutte a bastard? I have been disputing this question since the middle of last month. You may remember the fuss, among all the other fusses that overcame us since then? Rutte wrote: ‘I am very concerned about the continuing violence in Israel and Gaza. It is unacceptable for Hamas to randomly fire rockets at the civilian population. The Netherlands supports Israel's right to self-defense, within the limits of international law and proportionality.’ Rutte's statement infuriated my good colleague Ramsey Nasr. He tweeted: ‘Just a note to say that you are a bastard. You have the right to be friends with Israel. Not to trivialize ethnic cleansing.’ De Telegraaf, helpful as ever, provided the headline for some extra gasoline.
I'm disputing the ‘bastard’ since my blog is making a comeback shortly on my site which is making a comeback due to technical malice and misunderstandings due to a bankruptcy due to ... well, due to life taking over while making alternate plans.
What Rutte did was parrot the president of the US, understandably so in the worldwide relief after Trump, but it remained indecent. It was also reprehensible, as Sylvana Simons called it. This is a free country, of course, where you can find bastards at will, as long as you don't add that they should be murdered.
But would I use such a term? In answer to that question during my disputing, I first heard my father and mother: ‘Swearing does not make your argument stronger, my dear boy, quite the contrary.’ Then I heard my father-in-law ask Rutte: ‘Is it true what they say about you? No? Well, then.’ Swearing doesn't hurt. Sticks and stones.
On the other hand, M. and I have a rule these days that we can swear at the screen only once per news show and/or press conference. Which shows that no matter how well you have been brought up, it is never too late to experience the relieving value of a heartfelt ‘bastard’ shouted at the television screen.
I wondered what Nasr accomplished with his bastard, other than relief maybe and fuss. Immediately after that, I asked myself: Should a blog achieve anything? ‘What then, for example?’ asked E.D. 'Debate?' Nah. I don't have enough thinking space between one-liners. 'The truth?' Nah. People who think they have the truth are the most dangerous. 'To convince?' I want to be convincing, but to convince? I’d rather not. I want dialogue, I want movement, I want an open hand, not a blow to the jaw. I want to invite, to drink a cup of tea, to listen and think, disputing myself. A bastard is like firing a rocket from a trench. It doesn't bring anything closer.
Having said all that, I was also jealous of Nasr. Because of his anger and his not giving a shit about anything or anybody. And for his grandiose celebration of the right to self-defense.