K3 | Flavor of the day versus Calimero


In the eighties and nineties, Eindhoven and everything associated with it, including PSV and TU/e, were accused of suffering from the Calimero Complex. “They are big and I is small, and that's not fair”. The accusation wasn’t unwarranted. After all, Eindhoven is a recent merger of a few villages and therefore doesn’t have a rich urban history. Folks from Eindhoven are essentially farmers that have been pulled out of the mud.

But once Eindhovians started wearing the Calimero Complex as a batch of honor (“Boeruh, boeruh, boeruh!”) and we liberated ourselves from this suffocating inferiority complex (thanks to comedian Theo Maassen), we started pursuing an independent trajectory. And this wasn’t in vain. Currently, the Brainport region is Netherlands’ primary economic engine, and a few weeks ago, PSV won its 25th national title. 

Unfortunately, we didn’t completely shed off our inferiority complex. Especially when it relates to trendy Anglo-Saxon social justice activism. A small, but loud group of students and employees are obsessed with social activism. They copy – with significant delays – every trend that they are spoon-fed from primarily the US. A year after the removal of paintings, University Rebellion occupied TU/e’s Board Room. Following some rebranding, the current flavor of the day is the war in Gaza. This time, and while ‘culturally appropriating’ the keffiyeh, the same folks who hysterically warned us about the looming climate apocalypse, have become experts in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.  

A university is our society’s primary educational institute for the development and propagation of critical thinking. It’s *the* institute that welcomes debate and discussion. It’s a place (and period) for students to learn how to reason and craft persuasive arguments. And perhaps even more important, the university provides a framework to be persuaded by these carefully crafted arguments. But social activists don’t take advantage of this weapon of reason. They try to impose unreasonable demands by occupying board rooms, by removing paintings and by intimidation. They don’t use language to communicate, they use it to manipulate. 

An interview by a Powned reporter with spokesperson Bram exemplifies the above. Bram sounds like a broken record, he doesn’t reason or respond to the reporter’s questions, he simply repeats a single talking point. In the background we witness a few individuals who have their faces covered by facemasks and keffiyehs. But at the same time, the beautiful weather prompted TU/e students and employees to take their lunch breaks outside, in large numbers. With the exception of the reporter, his security and cameraman, the social activists are completely ignored. Their scanting doesn’t resonate. And while this unfolds, I feel some pride: Isn’t it great to be an eccentric Calimero! 

Willem Mulder is a Professor of Precision Medicine at TU/e. The views expressed in this column are his own

Share this article