Mayor of (Old) Amsterdam

Friday, April 11, 2014

This segment originally aired live on April 11, 2014. An edited version was included in a best-of episode of The Brian Lehrer Show on May 26th. The unedited audio can be found here. 

Eberhard van der Laan, mayor of Amsterdam, discusses his city's similarities to NYC -- a tolerant and diverse city containing people of 180 nationalities, as well as an international business and cultural hotspot.


Eberhard van der Laan

Comments [22]

art525 from Park Slope

Dear that girl- OK you want to argue words instead of the basic issue? Of course we have a bike program. There was a conscious effort to put in bike lanes in the last few years. That didn't just happen. It was a conscious effort and one that cost a whoile lot of money. OK Amsterdam has a long existing culture of people riding bikes. I will grant you that perhaps it's not a "program". OK point goes to that girl. BUT my point is that the mayor mentioned that bikers in Amsterdam don't behave in the best way and act superior. You do not respond to that. Of course not. Biking advocates always change the argument. Your comment that my life is more threatened these days by cars and trucks reminds me of that old Groucho Marx line- "aWHo are yo gonaa beleive me or your own eyes"? You can tell me that - bikers always do, but I am a pedestrian and I have lived in NYC for 30 years and it is the sudden preponderance of bikers, bikers who have no regard for the laws that have diminished the quality of life in New York for me. I am tired of having to look carefully for bikers riding on sidewalks, riding the wrong way down one way streets and never ever stopping for red lights and darting between pedestrians crossing the street with the light. SO you just keep trying to change the argumenbt by quibbling with my words, whether it is a "program" or not rather than addressing the real issues. That's just another example of the arrogance of bikers.

Apr. 11 2014 04:30 PM

The Dutch Myth of Tolerance

Apr. 11 2014 01:05 PM

"The occupation of Indonesia by Japan for three and a half years during World War II was a crucial factor in the subsequent revolution. The Netherlands had little ability to defend its colony against the Japanese army, and within only three months of their initial attacks, the Japanese had occupied the Dutch East Indies. In Java, and to a lesser extent in Sumatra (Indonesia's two dominant islands), the Japanese spread and encouraged nationalist sentiment. Although this was done more for Japanese political advantage than from altruistic support of Indonesian independence, this support created new Indonesian institutions (including local neighbourhood organisations) and elevated political leaders such as Sukarno. Just as significantly for the subsequent revolution, the Japanese destroyed and replaced much of the Dutch-created economic, administrative, and political infrastructure.

With Japan on the brink of losing the war, the Dutch sought to re-establish their authority in Indonesia and asked that the Japanese Army "preserve law and order" in Indonesia."

In short, after the Dutch subjugated and exploited Indonesia from the late 1600's, they scurried back to The Netherlands when the Japanese showed up during WWII. After the Indonesians threw the Japanese out of the country ,the Dutch returned to reclaim "THEIR" country!!!

"Tolerant" as long as it works out for them.

Apr. 11 2014 12:06 PM

Although slavery was illegal inside the Netherlands it flourished in the Dutch Empire, and helped support the economy. By 1650 the Dutch had the pre-eminent slave trade in Europe.

"Tolerant" at home - turn a blind eye all over the "Empire"!!

Apr. 11 2014 11:50 AM
oscar from ny

When Jesus comes back to earth the ppl will come out in defence of their traditions customs and culture but the servant of the lord will tell them to save it for he knows well that ppl use this excuse to slave and torment

Apr. 11 2014 11:49 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

art525 - Amsterdam doesn't need a "biking program;" people there have simply continued to be cyclists on a larger level. They do have cycling lanes, and cyclists stick to them, for the most part. Pedestrians there also know far better where and when to cross both cycling lanes and streets; New Yorkers would do well to heed that.

New York really doesn't have a "biking program," either. We have a bikeshare for those who don't own their own. Your life and livelihood are more threatened by cars and trucks most days. But nice effort making cyclists the root of your personal problems. No doubt you're part of that group that would have no cycling infrastructure here.

Apr. 11 2014 11:47 AM
shashinyc from Manhattan

Note: True about Peter Stuyvesant...but the rescinding of his order to expel the refugee Jews from Brazil was at least partly because some directors of the Dutch West India Company were themselves Jews...

Apr. 11 2014 11:46 AM

I thought when they started talking about tolerance that they would lead to the controversy over the Balck Piets tradition of white people painting themselves not just black but offensively cartoonish black. I really enjoyed Amsterdam when I visited and the people are great, but I cannot understand or forgive this tradition.

Apr. 11 2014 11:46 AM
Mireille Liong from Brooklyn, NY

Ask him on the policies about Sinterklaas/Black Pete

Apr. 11 2014 11:43 AM
Syl from In town

My friends in A'dam raising children don't live in fear of getting ill (resulting in bankruptcy), having no available child care, or saving huge sums for their childrens' education, because they don't live in a market-driven, predatory environment as we do.

How marvelous that would be! If that's socialism, lay it on me!

Apr. 11 2014 11:41 AM
™ from astoria

Seems to me that western cities in general are falling behind Asian cities in that our companies have moved massive amounts of manufacturing over there. We worry about child care and "living wages" while they are opening 10 new factory sites!

Apr. 11 2014 11:37 AM
Jessica from Hell's Kitchen

Hi! I don't know if he was mayor in 2001, but I just want to say THANK YOU for the amazing gift of millions of daffodil bulbs after 911. I get a little weepy (in a good way) this time every year walking around the city as it blooms into yellow.

Apr. 11 2014 11:36 AM
Nancy from NYC

Amsterdam, once you get away from the drunken frat people, is so marvelously civilized. It's a joy to be there.

Apr. 11 2014 11:36 AM
Joanne from NYC

Isn't this the city where whites paint their faces black and parade the streets? My daughter was horrified when she saw this 'tradition.'

Apr. 11 2014 11:36 AM
art525 from Park Slope

Interesting. While NYC biking advocates always point to Amsterdam as an example of a successfu biking program the mayor just commented that the bikers in Amsterdam could be much better behaved and that they think they own the streets. SO it's not just here the bikers seem to think they own the streets and have inconsiderate behavior. I'm sure that comment will be ignored.

Apr. 11 2014 11:35 AM

Gimmie a break with the faux-tolerant Dutch image.


Apr. 11 2014 11:32 AM

… tolerant???

Let's look at Indonesia!!

Apr. 11 2014 11:31 AM
Estelle from Brooklyn

When Spain expelled the Jews in 1492, Amsterdam is where many of them went.

Apr. 11 2014 11:29 AM

Mr. van der Laan, is Amsterdam needing university professors? I teach media & film production and I'm ready to move to the Venice of the North right now. Where do I start?

Apr. 11 2014 11:29 AM

The Dutch??? Tolerant???

Let's look at South African apartheid.

Apr. 11 2014 11:28 AM
Nancy from NYC

You can't compare salaries here and in Holland, because they have subsidized (free?) health care, child care and higher education, at least according to my friends there. So the salary we make here has to pay for more things than in the Netherlands. It's just not comparable.

Apr. 11 2014 11:26 AM

What's the deal with barring visitors from buying cannabus.
I saw more drunks on the street than potheads eatting moon pies there.

Apr. 11 2014 10:42 AM

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