This chapter examines the impact of offensive language, whether subtle innuendos or extremely humiliating labels, in ethnically tense situations in the Netherlands, looking in particular at how tolerance functions as a national characteristic, a sign of civilisation of enlightenment, created by those considered ‘genuinely’ Dutch. In this context, tolerance can easily be used as a mechanism to exclude those who are deemed intolerant, most of them non-whites, and by which moral superiority is conferred on those seen as matching the cultural norm, most of them whites. Tolerance can therefore become an instrument to perpetuate cultural racism, justifying denigration (or ‘cultural pain’) in a country where ethnic minorities, particularly Muslims, are typically subjected to public scorn. The chapter shows that the paradox of humiliating tolerance is evident in the contexts of economic decline and ‘internal discomposure’ which characterise contemporary ‘Europism’, a neologism distinct from ‘Eurocentrism’.
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