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Should we rename the Coen Tunnel?

by Marthijn Uittenbogaard


Here in The Netherlands we have the Coen Tunnel (In dutch: Coentunnel). '[It] is a tunnel in the A10 motorway under the North Sea Canal in western Amsterdam.' I copied that line from Wikipedia. The tunnel is named after Jan Pieterszoon Coen (8 January 1587 - 21 September 1629). There is also a statue of this guy in Hoorn, his birthplace. Coen was a hero, that's why we gave him a statue en that's why we named a tunnel after him. We, for many years, learned our kids at school of the heroic things he (and others of him time too) has done in the colonial era. We did not tell the kids that he killed and enslaved many foreigners in the Dutch East Indies. It took our country hundreds of years to acknowledge the fact that he was not a hero and that the colonial time was not a thing to be proud off. And especially due to the increase of black people in The Netherlands, the call for a name change of the Coen Tunnel has risen over the years.

The Dutch writer and poet Jan Hanlo (29 May 1912 - 16 June 1969) almost had a street named after him somewhere in Limburg. Limburg is in the south of The Netherlands and Hanlo lived there most of his life. But because of his pedophilic feelings and the commotion this gave in the press, the plan was withdrawn. Jan Hanlo was a catholic and because of his religion he was against sexual contacts with boys. He once stroked the naked upper body of a boy aged around twelve while watching a motor cross race. Jan Hanlo had a motor bike himself, and once killed a man with his bike by accident. The tender caressing of the boy was reason enough in the 1950's to put him in jail for a few weeks. He also 'voluntarily' was castrated people believe, during his stay in a catholic clinic, where they 'treated' gay and pederast men. It is not 100% sure if the castration took place if I remember correctly. I once read a biographical book about him. When I now search on Jan Hanlostraat (straat is dutch for street) I find two streets called after him. There is a Jan Hanlostraat in Almere and one in Den Haag (The Hague).

A lot of people react angry when you want to get rid of the statue of Coen or change the name of the Coen Tunnel. They think, we as Dutch citizens should be proud of our heroic history, where we sailed the seven seas, where we were a very powerful nation. Those same people usually are not proud at all on our country when it comes to gay marriage or the sexual revolution of the 1960's for which our country is famous. So it's not only about being proud of our country, it is that they like the suppression and killings and slavery that took place at that time. They like the power to suppress, to rule.

I suggest to rename the Coen Tunnel into the Brongersma Tunnel. Edward Brongersma (31 August 1911 - 22 April 1998) by the way has one conviction of having sex with a boy aged 16 or 17. Something which today is legal. In fact, when the law was changed Brongersma himself was a senator that voted to abolish this discrimination law. It was discriminatory because straight people had a lower age of consent, namely 16 years.

Some 15 years ago a sensationalist magazine published a list of the worst Dutchman ever. Brongersma was placed at number one. If I remember correctly, mass murderer Coen was not on this list. 'Funny' though that Pim Fortuyn (19 February 1948 - 6 May 2002) was called greatest Dutchman ever in a huge television show: finding the greatest Dutchman ever. Fortuyn was very famous by the public. Pim Fortuyn was in favor of pedophilia and he was very positive about Edward Brongersma. Knowledge many of his followers didn't want to know.

15 August 2017