The language of racial innocence

The outward appearance of benevolence, tolerance, and innocence has been central both to the Dutch national self-image and to the political manufacture of the White Autochtoon Dutch identity. The Dutch have become so invested in the image of their being tolerant, “good” people that to many the unrelenting stream of reactionary and racist comments directed at anti-blackface campaigners came as a “complete surprise.” Moreover, the uncompromising conclusions of the fourth report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance caused an epistemic shock, i.e. “the shock of experiencing a belief system catastrophically collide with empirical reality.” The report challenged the belief in the inherent goodness, tolerance, and non-racism of the Netherlands. It comes, then, as no surprise that analyses exposing the racist roots of the figure of Zwarte Piet have often been met with outright denial, and insistent appeals to innocence and good intentions. Even in the face of resounding evidence against it, the myth of the Netherlands as a generous, welcoming, and tolerant (non-racist) country has proven unshakable. The constant retelling of this myth has worked to strengthen the conviction that if a White Autochtoon Dutch person is benevolent, welcoming, tolerant, and committed to a progressive liberal agenda, then any charge of racism against them is spurious, and a base act of ingratitude. Many of the racist comments echo accusations of ungratefulness: we are taking advantage of the goodness of White Autochtoon Dutch folks. We are abusing Dutch tolerance and hospitality and should go back to where we come from.

Egbert Alejandro Martina in The language of racial innocence (Processed Life)