Switzerland is unique in many ways and one that has always piqued my interest is the fact that it is a nearly pure democracy. In general this means that every public decision is put to a popular vote, from innocuous decisions like the color of the trash bin to more serious considerations as to who is granted citizenship.
Twice Nancy Holten petitioned for citizenship and the decision was left to her neighbors. Twice the people of Gipf-Oberfrick rejected her petition, with 144 voters out of 206 choosing NO.
Mrs. Holten who describes herself as a freelance journalist, model, activist, and drama student has busied herself attacking Swiss institutions she believed wrong. She campaigned against the iconic cowbells hung from Alpine cow necks, citing the heavy weight and discomfort the cows must experience. It is not clear if anyone explained to her the legitimate and practical reasons for such bells but regardless her campaigning didn’t end there. Nancy Holten decried other Swiss traditions like pig races and especially hunting. She formally complained against the noise caused by church bells, once again either ignoring or ignorant as to their practical function. Her passion for veganism led her to crusade against cheese, embarrassing enough for a Dutchwoman, but too much for her Alpine neighbors to take.
Those rejecting her petition pointed out that she disrespects Swiss traditions and even their way of life. Her neighbors are ‘fed up’ with the sanctimony and don’t feel that she is ‘accepting what is Swiss.’
This leads me to a very important point, one especially topical given the tumultuous landscape of US immigration policy. Citizenship, among other things, is a commingling of values. A veritable fondue where the immigrant proudly adds to the richness and variety of the whole but acknowledges the importance and values of the nation. Examining and sometimes even challenging these ideas may be necessary but attacking and browbeating your neighbors to the point of extreme annoyance is a very tone deaf choice.
und viele Grüße aus Charlotte
Reinhard von Hennigs