(for security reasons I blurred the fingerprints)
I live in a country governed by criminals. And then I do not mean men like a former president who has been twice in jail because of robbery and assault and who recently left his country behind with an empty treasury and an allegedly full foreign bank account for himself when he was chased away by the people (maybe you recognize Victor Yanukovych from the Ukraine in the description). No, I mean the leaders of a country many people wouldn’t have thought of: the Netherlands. Of course, nobody should expect that we live in a paradise here. Only the other day a cabinet minister has been bawled out by the parliament, since he hadn’t told the truth about the activities of his secret service (I am still surprised that the parliament didn’t dismiss him). Recently a politician who is prosecuted for corruption has been elected to a local parliament. And, to take another example, the leader of an ultra-right party has been accused of racist statements. These things are bad enough, but it is not what I mean.
A few weeks ago I went to the town hall for a new passport. What did the counter clerk ask, besides the usual things like a photo and to set my sign on a piece of paper? She wanted to have my fingerprints, or rather two fingerprints. I had been forewarned and as meek as a lamb and without any protest I obeyed the order. As a result, now I am a registered criminal. For as you know, traditionally only criminals are fingerprinted, and at the place of a serious crime, one of the first things detectives do is looking for fingerprints. For nothing is as sure for identifying a criminal, they say, as his fingerprints (certainly in the age when taking DNA not yet had been invented as a better alternative). So fingerprinting and being seen as a criminal have always been two sides of the same coin. And as the sociologist W.I Thomas said in the theorem that made him famous: “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”. In other words: once you are treated as a criminal, you are considered criminal and maybe even treated as a criminal. So now I am a registered criminal.
Does it help in the sense that more crimes are solved or prevented than would have been without this fingerprinting law? I doubt it. Besides that fingerprints are not as reliable as is often thought (although they do have a high reliability, indeed), a measure can only be effective when it is applied. But actually this preventive fingerprinting is simply a paper measure. In this blog it’s not the place to give a thorough foundation of what I blame the authorities for, but the fingerprints are taken, stored and forgotten most of the time. It is simply a too complicated approach for preventing and solving crime except in individual cases. For instance, if there is evidence that an airliner will be hijacked, the authorities should have the fingerprints of the possible hijackers and they should have to check the fingerprints of all passengers entering the airport. Do you believe that it works that way? There are much better methods for preventing a hijack. And it is the same for other serious crimes of that dimension. Fingerprints are only useful for small-scale individual cases of crime. But then it has no sense to criminalize the whole population of a country. Nevertheless this is what happens; in the Netherlands and elsewhere.But back to my point and what I wanted to say. Of course, I am not the only one in this country being fingerprinted. Although George Orwell was right when he wrote “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”, here it is still so that rules like fingerprinting for your passport apply to everybody, which involves that not only I am fingerprinted but that every member of the Dutch cabinet who needs a new passport is fingerprinted as well, including the Prime Minister. Do you see what this means? Indeed, that this country is a country governed by criminals.