This article is about the state of multiculturalist politics in the netherlands. It assesses the popular claim that a paradigmatic change has occurred in the netherlands due to events such as 9/11 and the murders of pim fortuyn and theo van gogh. The article argues that although changes are significant, both in discourse and in practice, they must be viewed as part of a process of rethinking the relation between newcomers and the state that goes back as far as the end of the 1980s. Long-standing claims about the exemplary form of multiculturalism in the netherlands were always ambiguous at least, or even hard to sustain. The article criticises the persistent idea that dutch accommodating integration policies since the end of the 1970s are an extension of the historical tradition of ‘pillarisation’. Only by going beyond this myth can we understand why recent changes are much less of a break with the past, and why multiculturalism was never accepted or practised as fully as has often been suggested in more stereotypical depictions of dutch integration policy.