Saturday, January 27, 2007

Disturbingly Racist Malaysians

I was actually going to write about D&D today, but this topic is more fun.

The new style blogger template has a nice feature which I like a lot. The archive section has a post counter. It tells you how many entries have been posted in a particular month or year.

My post count has been going down steadily. In a way it's a good sign. Fewer posts means fewer complaints which must mean that my life as a whole is getting more satisfactory. Unfortunately, fewer complaints makes Riding the Mellow less fun to read.

Oh well.

Anyway, I do have something to say this morning.

A good friend of mine recently told me how a certain friend of hers has stopped supporting a certain football team because they have a Jewish player on their books.

He also apparently said other choice, fascists remarks implying that association with people of a certain faith is a bad thing.

You know what's the saddest thing about this? The saddest thing about this is that I'm not in the least bit shocked.

This sort of anti-semitic (and other overtly racist and bigoted) bullshit happens a lot in this country, especially by people who live in a certain part of the country that I (thankfully) don't live in.

Malaysian people are in general, quite nice. They only become idiots when some gallery-playing politician wannabe or some headless religious fanatic fires them up.

See? Sometimes being too afraid and respectful of authority figures can be a bad thing. People need to exercise the right to question even their leaders and use their own eyes and ears for a change.

Anyway, by some strange coincidence I was reading the papers this morning and there was a hell lot of articles about national unity and such. Specifically, apparent lack of said unity. It is very strange actually. Apparently 30 years ago, things are more relaxed and less people made a big deal out of other peoples' races.

There were also articles about the new Ethnic Relations module for public universities which is good. At least someone's trying to do something.

There are things that can be done but I doubt it will be done because of how things work here.

There's local politics and how it's always organized around racial/religious lines. The original idea was to have a vehicle to bring up issues pertaining a certain racial section of society. Which is fine and dandy.

Unfortunately, race/religion based parties also breed zealots and ultras who villify "the others". Some of these people are crap wannabes who offer no real innovation other than defending their race from "threats". Some others really believe in their master race ideology and some are really driven by hate. Which ever kind they are, they play to the gallery and that sort of rhetoric filters down to the people.

You'd figure that level headed leaders will come down on their less than enlightened party members. They can't. Ultras and zealots command some serious influence and coming down on them will mean losing that influence (and votes). So once in a while they need to do things so to appease their more radical following. Which doesn't help with the national unity thing.

Some people know better and ignore such crazy talk. But some other people don't know better. Even worse than that, some of these chauvinists manage to find their way high up the political system. Their presence has a subtle effect on how things work. Like our education system, which is a whole different blog post so I won't talk about that now.

And there's religion. I personally feel that many Malaysians are more obsessed by the appearance of piety rather than actually being pious. These include some people in high places. Being pious is hard work. It's a long journey of discovery and enlightenment regardless of which faith one professes.

Appearing to be pious is so much less of a hassle. It's very simple. Dress like a religious person. Talk like a religious person. Ocassionally say something incredibly crass about women. Or talk about "unbelievers" and remind supporters of how much of a "threat" they are. And let's not forget the "All Jews are evil" boilerplate. Always a winner there.

This method works because there are Malaysians who are too respectful of "religious scholars" and believe everything they say. Once again, failure to ask questions and verify facts leads to ignorance and bigotry. So we have "religious" people who refuse to associate with "the others" for fear of losing their faith or worse, being accused of infidelity themselves.

How is that going to help reduce racism and promote unity?

I've always said that mixing religion and politics is a very, very bad idea.

Our entire social and political system needs a revamp away from religious and racial lines. Will it happen? Can it happen? Everyone has eyes to see and ears to hear. See and hear and come to your own conclusions.

Our leadership has to take a long hard look at itself if it really wants to change things.

So what am I doing about this racism thing?

I posted before about everyone having racial biases and prejudices, shaped by their experiences and the stuff you get from older relatives and people around you.

So yeah, I have had some less than flattering opinions about certain kinds of people based on what I hear and experience. But I also know that it's not right to have such feelings. So the onus is up to me to suppress and override and eventually disprove those feelings. My feelings and opinions are my responsibility after all.

In other words my part of the deal against racism is to not be a racist myself, despite some residual prejudices I might have. After al, no one is truly completely impartial.

It's not huge, but at least I'm not a fascist scum which is more than I can say for some people.

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