Santorum’s Dutch Ignorance (UPDATES)

UPDATE: Here’s a different take on this story.

UPDATE III:

Santorum’s press secretary Alice Stewart repeatedly refused to answer questions by Dutch television station RTL4 about Santorum’s outrageous and false claims about euthanasia in the Netherlands. Asked at least three times by the RTL4 reporter to clarify Santorum’s incorrect figures and totally distorted statements about Dutch euthanasia laws and statistics, Stewart — at least three times — said “Rick is strong pro-life from conception to natural death,” or a variation thereof.

Watch the embarrassing interview here.

UPDATE II:

It turns out that Santorum made the same outlandish and false allegations about euthanasia in the Netherlands back in 2009.

The Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad has provided the video where “Santorum tells the same bizarre story about euthanasia in the Netherlands that he recently told during a campaign gathering.” There is a little twist, however: In the 2009 video Santorum claims that elderly in the Netherlands carry something in their wallets that says ”I do not want to be euthanized [sic].”

In his most recent invention, Santorum claims elderly in the Netherlands wear bracelets with the same plea. See the video here.

UPDATE:

Reporting on this story a few days ago, the Washington Post fact-checked Santorum’s remarks using the “Pinocchio Test” where Three Pinocchios is given to a story that has “Significant factual errors and/or obvious contradictions.”

Well, the Santorum remarks earned him “Four Pinocchios.”

The descriptor, a single word, “Whoppers.”

Read more about the original story here.

Read more about the Washington Post’s fact-checking methodology here.

Image: The Washington Post
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In an interview with Social Conservative leader James Dobson in early February, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum ignorantly — and falsely — claimed that in the Netherlands euthanasia makes up ten percent of all deaths, and that forced euthanasia accounts for 5 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands. Santorum also said that people are euthanized involuntarily because they are old or sick and further claimed that elderly people in the Netherlands don’t go into hospitals out of fear and rather go to other countries.

Having lived in the Netherlands for several years, I know that the Dutch are calm, proud, pragmatic people who like to deal in facts and reason and do not get easily excited or offended. However, Santorum’s outlandish claims have provoked a storm of criticism and indignation in the Netherlands.

They have been extensively reported, fact-checked and mocked by the Dutch media.

The headline in Saturday’s Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad: “Rick Santorum Thinks He Knows the Netherlands: Murder of the Elderly on a Grand Scale.”

The Dutch are genuinely offended that a foreign politician would misrepresent Dutch culture and morality merely to make a political point back home.

The Dutch web site Warroom.dejaap.nl says (author’s translation):

Especially Conservatives in America are of the impression that the Dutch is a crazed hippie culture, while the use of cannabis in America is twice as high as in the Netherlands and let’s not even get started on crime statistics. Apparently [Americans] have a strange impression of Dutch culture and do not feel the need to investigate the facts.

Referring to Santorum, the story concludes: “This man is really imaginative. It would be a laughing matter, if he weren’t in the race for the Republican nomination to take on Barack Obama in the race for the presidency of the most powerful country in the world.”

And,

Dutch sources estimate that legal euthanasia is the cause of what the Christian paper Nederlands Dagblad put at 3.2% of deaths at the most liberal estimate, and others put around 2%. Public statistics, which have been reported since the practice was legalized in 2002, cite 3,136 reports of euthanasia out of a total of 136,000 in the Netherlands in 2011, a bit more than 2%.

The Dutch were also flummoxed by Santorum’s claim that Dutch elderly wear “Don’t Euthanize Me” bracelets.

Other reports label Santorum a “crazy extreme Catholic” with “a surreal view of the Netherlands.”

Just in the last few days has the U.S. media started to report on Santorum’s erroneous comments.

The New York Times earlier this week:

Voluntary euthanasia, which has been legal since 2002, accounted for about 2 percent of deaths in the Netherlands in 2010.

As Jonathan Turley, a legal blogger, explained on Monday, the Dutch law permitting euthanasia is unambiguous about the requirement that it be voluntary, and lawmakers mandated that each case be carefully reviewed by an expert panel.

The Times further reports that:

Euthanasia not only requires consent but a waiting period. If a doctor dispatches someone without their consent or satisfying the tight controls, he is charged with murder.

The doctor must document that he or she confirmed that the patient requesting euthanasia or assisted suicide is making a voluntary and informed request. The record must also show that the patient was suffering unbearably and was fully informed about the prospects. Then a second doctor must examine the patient and supply a second written opinion on the satisfaction of the criteria.

Today The Times reported that “A member of the Dutch Parliament expressed outrage on Thursday that the country’s government has so far declined to directly contradict the Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s false claim that forced euthanasia is legal and common in the Netherlands.”

The Dutch Embassy in Washington earlier in the week, while refusing to comment, provided The Times “with information proving that Mr. Santorum was wrong to say that forced euthanasia accounts for 5 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands, and elderly people are killed in Dutch hospitals to save money. A spokeswoman for the embassy explained that the Dutch government wanted to stay out of the American presidential election.”

It would be nice if American politicians stayed out of other countries’ affairs and cultures and did not use misleading or false statistics solely to make political hay with their base back home.

Mr. Santorum probably believes that 99 percent of Dutch people still walk around in klompen (wooden shoes).


Image: Courtesy shutterstock.com

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Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

  • Jim Satterfield

    No lie is too outrageous when you’re telling it in the name of Jesus.

  • The_Ohioan

    As a former resident of Holland MI, tulip capital and 3 week long Dutch festival every May, I can assure Mr. Santorum that euthanasia is not an option the descendants of Dutch settlers openly embrace.

    Most belong to the Reformed and Christian Reformed Churches, both are of the Calvinist persuasion in which predestination would argue against interference with what God has preordained.

    The Reformed Church opposes abortion, with few exceptions, euthanasia, and capital punishment.

    The Christian Reformed Church (an offshoot of the Reformed Church) opposes abortion with few exceptions, capital punishment except in extreme cases, and have no final position on euthanasia, but probably will end up against it with few exceptions.

    Personal note: When I moved to the West Michigan area in 1977, even the McDonalds restaurant wasn’t open on Sundays. Almost nothing was open on Sundays, which is an indication of how deeply religious the community is – or was.

  • ShannonLeee

    You really could have left the word “dutch” out of the title.

    I guess the spotlight is starting to hurt Santorum more than I thought.

  • zephyr

    As I mentioned in another comment, I received a pro Santorum political ad in my mailbox yesterday. The entire ad consisted of endorsements from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, James Dobson, and Gary Bauer. Nuff said.

  • zephyr

    Thomas, I hope you (and the rest of the world) will keep in mind that a great number of our citizens were dragged kicking and screaming into the George Bush era. We did NOT vote for him, did NOT vote for a stupid war, and do NOT vote for the idiotic sensibilities todays republicans embrace.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    ShannonLeee says:

    “You really could have left the word ‘Dutch’ out of the title.”

    You know, SL, I thought hard and long about the title because I did not want to in any way imply ignorance on the part of the Dutch, who are in every respect (education, languages, savvy, skills, etc.) NOT ignorant.

    But I do understand what you mean by leaving the word “dutch” out of the title — and agree :)

  • labman57

    Santorum and Bachmann suffer from the same fatal flaw — neither does their homework before making public comments regarding important science-related issues, societal topics, and historical events.

    Lord knows we certainly don’t want our national leaders to be eloquent, scientifically literate, and generally well-informed about the world in which we live. Much better to derive scientific theories based on the teachings of the Bible, and to form national public policy based on the rumors, gossip, and unverified anecdotal accounts described in supermarket rags and online blogs.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    This from a person who lived in the Netherlands for several years, was married there, to a Dutch citizen who has “parents. Elderly parents — 84 and 82 — as well as many elderly aunts and uncles,” who visits them as much as possible, who speaks “ to almost everyone in the family on a regular weekly (sometimes daily — my 13-year-old niece loves to Skype me) basis.”

    At any rate, if you believe everything spread about the health care system in Holland (or any other country, for that matter), that you hear only from people who have never lived or studied or even read anything about those countries, you will continue to sound ridiculous in my mind and the minds of every person in the world who has actual experience and facts about those countries.

    The Dutch are not killing off their old people. They are not waiting 12 months for bypass surgery. They are not getting “free” healthcare. They do pay. Investigate it. Research it. Find out the facts.

    My in-laws have health problems. My father-in-law has been in the hospital in Holland several times. He’s still alive and he’s not afraid to go to his doctor or the hospital. He wears no bracelets. In fact, he has gotten many helpful things to make his life easier lately – like his new “scooter” – similar to those “HoverRounds” you see on TV. He worked for many years and paid into the Dutch healthcare system so that now, in his golden years, he does not have to worry about going into bankruptcy just because of normal health issues that arise at his age. he can still enjoy his life. And when he did have emergencies, he went to the hospital and was taken care of — he did not wait for months, as some would have you believe.

    Read more here

  • dmf

    Oh come on, Thomas. Are you serious? How can you expect to be taken seriously, chastising some bad American stereotypes, applying them to all Americans? Your comments are almost as bad as anyone you’re criticizing.

    Should I just you by the actions of Geert Wilders? The PVV? Racism against Turkish and Moroccan immigrants here? Of the characters of the New Kids movies? Or of the drunk guy on the NS train that decided to bitch to me about “the negroes” the other day? Hey, how about Zwarte Piet?

    Lay off the sanctimonious crap. You look just like the people you’re complaining about.

  • ShannonLeee

    ” ever since Dubya was able to be a 2-term president.”

    I have been saying that on this site for years….thanks for the unintentional backup :)

    and hi from Germany.

  • bluebelle

    There was plenty of fierce opposition to W, and there is plenty of fierce opposition to the lies that Santorum tells to make brownie points with religious fundamentalists.
    Most Democrats want Santorum to get the nomination, because we know his views are seriously out of step with mainstream America.
    The hardest thing to face is the willful ignorance of your own countrymen and women

  • bluebelle

    Thomas- do you have anything constructive to contribute? Or are you just on here to bitch? We have a contentious two-party system— and the radical right has kidnapped the GOP for many years now.

    I find your comments insulting and condescending- stereotyping the entire country for the sake of making your argument??. There are no Rick Santorum supporters on here for you to argue with.

  • DaGoat

    Tell me: is there any government action undertaken towards Rick Santorum because of these hideous lies?

    It doesn’t work that way here. Sounds like you are proud of your country, be happy and don’t worry about what fools like Santorum say.

  • bluebelle

    Thomas– I know there are a lot of problems here but I still love our country anyway. I can’t take responsibility for Rick Santorum all I can do is vote against him. Its not illegal– altho I guess he could be sued for slander. He’s just another nutcase who will soon be back in oblivion. Right now he’s making an ass out of himself and pretty much assuring that he will lose the nomination

    Anyway many of us are horrified at what the GOP is turning into– as you can tell from the comments

  • Rcoutme

    @Thomas H

    I was with you for much of your diatribe. Then you touched upon one of the most cherished freedoms of my country. No, it is not the right to bear arms. “People like Rush Limbaugh and friends would have been brought to trial for hate spreading long ago in our country.” I offered to, would and will fight to the death for him to be allowed to say what he will (within the limits of not calling on literal attacks). He may not say things I like, but I must be willing to let him say them. Anything else makes all of us less intelligent.

    Unless a person is allowed to challenge my beliefs, they are beliefs without rational support. In addition, We do not have a government that does this to our old people: “…they are starved to death by your government, by denying them their rightfully deserved pensions, by taking away their homes and depriving them of good medical treatment.” We have had and will continue to have (for the foreseeable future) a medical insurance for all people who are old. It is called Medicare.

  • roro80

    Thomas — Have you ever even been to the US? Just as it is extremely stupid for Santorum to say things about people from your country without any idea of the truth, it is stupid for you to smear the opinions of a few onto all of us, then come on here and claim to know the “truth” about the US. If I recall correctly, the Netherlands has its share of ugly problems too.

    I know that considering the US a troglodite society full of hicks and half-wits and puritans and violence is a fun past-time in much of Europe. Considering Europeans stuck-up socialist snobs and idealistic radicals is one of our fun past-times. It’s not attractive or correct on either side. We don’t prosecute you or other Europeans for your stupid ideas about the US, and we also won’t prosecute Santorum for his stupid ideas about the Netherlands. Whatever you think, most people here consider freedom of speech to be a good thing, even if the statements are incorrect or based on ignorance.

    Please note that I’m someone who generally agrees with the idea of national health care, I advocate for free access to both contraception and abortion, I think puritanical prudishness is ultimately harmful to our society, and am often considered a radical liberal by most on this board (which doesn’t bother me most of the time). I still find it pretty dumb for someone who reads a few articles in the Times to come and tell us all the “truth” about the US.

  • roro80

    Thomas — Have you ever even been to the US? Just as it is extremely stupid for Santorum to say things about people from your country without any idea of the truth, it is stupid for you to smear the opinions of a few onto all of us, then come on here and claim to know the “truth” about the US. If I recall correctly, the Netherlands has its share of ugly problems too.

  • roro80

    I know that considering the US a troglodite society full of hicks and half-wits and puritans and violence is a fun past-time in much of Europe. Considering Europeans stuck-up socialist snobs and idealistic radicals is one of our fun past-times. It’s not attractive or correct on either side. We don’t prosecute you or other Europeans for your stupid ideas about the US, and we also won’t prosecute Santorum for his stupid ideas about the Netherlands. Whatever you think, most people here consider freedom of speech to be a good thing, even if the statements are incorrect or based on ignorance.

  • roro80

    Comment stuck in moderation … I guess at least it didn’t totally disappear?

  • slamfu

    I think Thomas has a lot of valid points. I look around at my country and I see too many people being idiots. The fact is there are a LOT of people that want to shout USA #1 when we are falling behind in so many things. We are not the freest in the world, we don’t have the best healthcare, our political system is manipulated by special interests, we think we can just barge into and blow up any country we disagree with, our education is weak, our violent crime stats are worse, we imprison a huge segment of the population, and a lot of the voters seem to actually be contemplating voting the GOP back into office even though they have clearly stated they are going to rehash Bush’s policies that were proven to be so awful when put into practice last time. We should be ashamed of our ignorance and realize its not just a few Americans. Bush got elected twice and that says a lot, we do get the government we deserve.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    roro et al:

    Discovered several comments “stuck in moderation,” One for over a week. There must be some technical glitch. Anyway, they are unstuck now.

  • roro80

    Hopefully it’s obvious I wrote the first comment in full, got stuck, then tried to split it up, only to be denied.

    Thanks for releasing the comments, Dorian.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    All: I am going to ask you return to the topic as per TMV rules. Those who choose not to read the rules for civility for this site, make their choices about being part of the conversations here. No vulgarity, no racist comments, no ad hominem attacks on writer, no ad hominem on other commenters, and especially no highjacking the topic. The topic is about Mr. Santorum and a remark he made.

    Thanks.

    archangel/ dr.e

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    Dear All, re commenting glitches, over a week ago, we found that we’d been sort of delisted by our commenters software and wouldnt be relisted unless we paid $$$. Tmv is a volunteer only site, no one is paid. We took down our donation jar long ago and have tried to make enough on ads to pay the monthly hosting and expanded space for commenters. Sometimes we do, sometimes we dont. We often chip in our own money then.

    So to deal with comments space to leave it open for you, we have gone back to another version of software that is as you can see buggy. We are working on it, but it will take time. I and we all appreciate your bearing with us. You’ve been very patient, and thank you.

    archangel/ dr.e