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Russell Shorto has called Amsterdam “the world’s most liberal city,” and indeed, the Netherlands is well known for its tolerant approaches to drug enforcement, legalized sex work, and gay rights. However, recent events have brought this self-congratulatory attitude into question, especially in debates over immigration and multiculturalism.

Is tolerance as positive of an ideal as it seems on the surface? Or might a focus on tolerance reinforce the very conflicts it is intended to manage? This conversation will explore the legacies of the Holocaust for how antisemitism is approached in the Netherlands today and its complex relation to anti-Muslim racism.

About the speaker

Nick Barr portrait, with foliage in background Nicolaas P. Barr, Ph.D., teaches in Comparative History of Ideas and Jewish Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. He leads a UW study abroad program to Amsterdam and is the Dutch-to-English translator of Tofik Dibi’s coming-out memoir Djinn. Nicolaas has appeared on The Stranger’s podcast “Blabbermouth” to discuss such terms as anarchy, progressive, and neoliberal, and written on Dutch racism in The Nation and Jewish Currents. He’s an editor for H-Low Countries and a trombonist in the Mexican band Banda Vagos.