The Golden Age is over

Right-wing alarmists complain that political correctness runs amok. Imagine their despair to learn the Amsterdam Museum banned the phrase “Golden Age.” The reason: the golden years weren’t golden for everyone. But terms like “Golden Age” make history more accessible, and god help us, we need to talk about our history more if we want to change our future.

The first black people in the Netherlands

In 1596, 100 Africans arrived in Middleburg, Zeeland – the first black people known to set foot in the Netherlands. The city fathers declared them free, but the ship captain who wanted to sell them as slaves objected. Within months, they were on their way to the Caribbean to be sold as slaves. Why is this story relevant today?

What’s bigger than big?

Quick: Name the biggest company the world’s ever seen. Apple? Amazon? Some bank or real estate developer? Nope. To guess correctly, you’d have to pick a company that went out of business in 1799.

Monkey business

In’t Aepjen still exists as a tavern to this day, though it is monkey- and flea-free, and as far as I know, its patrons are not in danger of being pressed into three years’ service with the merchant marines.

Still the waters

The Dutch had always been close to water, of course. It’s hard not to be when much of your nation is below sea level anyway. There’s an old saying that “God made the world, but the Dutch made the Netherlands,” and that’s certainly true when you consider that through the use of polders, dykes and sheer willpower, the Dutch pulled much of their land out of the sea.