Brutal scenes in the Netherlands reveal the ugly truth about ‘liberal democracies’

The heavy-handed police response to legitimate protest in the Netherlands shows us just what “liberal democracy” is all about, writes Jacek Karnowski

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Jacek Karnowski
A protestor confronts riot police as thousands of people defied a ban to gather and protest the Dutch government's coronavirus lockdown measures, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The brutal scenes from the Netherlands where police officers used batons and dogs to assault citizens protesting the government’s coronavirus strategy caused quite a stir in Poland — and it’s hardly surprising to see why.

The Netherlands is a country that has been particularly aggressive towards Poland and whose leaders have often called for sanctions and punitive action to be taken against Warsaw, but now appears to condone violence against its own citizens who hold an opposing view. Those who oppose the country’s current policy direction may not be right, they may be mistaken, and may even risk the lives of others, but they have a fundamental right to express their opinion — that is, after all, what democracy is all about.

The scenes in the Netherlands resemble those in Belarus; not those in Poland under Law and Justice (PiS) governance. Even in the face of extremely violent protests, Polish police opt for a policy of containment to ensure the peaceful conducting of protests.

This is understandable: in Poland, we have an ordinary parliamentary democracy, and we cherish it very much. In the Netherlands, however, they have a “liberal democracy,” and while the concept may appear pleasant and progressive, in reality it is anything but. It is a centralized and brutal regime in which freedom of speech is often a fiction and the mainstream media preaches a singular viewpoint. Anyone who does not agree with the mainstream is socially ostracized, and even if they oppose that, there is always the very efficient police — as we can see — to deal with them.

In Poland, we have an ordinary parliamentary democracy, and we cherish it very much. In the Netherlands, they have a “liberal democracy.”

The whole situation day-to-day is packaged in a way to appear pristine, but on occasion the ugly truth reveals itself.

In the end, the videos of protesters being mauled by police dog is a measure of how much worth all those rankings of various freedoms are, in which the Netherlands are always at the top whilst Poland sits rock-bottom. Yes, Poland has its issues, its conflicts and imperfections, but it is a truly free country; the freest one in Europe.

If police officers assaulted those with an opposing view in Poland, the country would suffer global condemnation with the footage shown across the world’s media.

The scenes from the Netherlands, however, will remain overlooked by the global media outlets, for they do not exist to inform but to support “liberal democracy,” which is just as democratic as all the other democracies with adjectives attached to them.

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