So here we are, at a another round of deciding how racist Umno can be. Hamidah Osman in the Perak state assembly asks if stuck between killing a snake or Indian (she probably meant Keling) in the bushes, which would you choose.
It is sad she asked Sivanesan and not me Praba Ganesan, with family in Ramachandran district in Tamil Nadu, and a working class lad who grew up hearing derogatory terms as a way of life.
It actually depends, you have to ask the Keling if he or she is a member of Umno.
Then the choice becomes academic.
What must be most amazing is that for a party which is built on xenophobia Umno lets mostly mixed bloods to run its party. A contradiction born party, it has institutionalised the concept of agreeable hate.
The type of hate where, someone would say racially derogatory statement and expect you to empathise with them.
” I lost a gate door last week. I am pretty sure some dirty Indian thieves did it. Thank god you are not the type of Indian to do that. You have a real job.”
Yes, yes, and my cousins peddle drugs. They actually think I am going to gain some brownie points for not being like the rest of my kind who are apparently dirty and thieving.
Every nation has its bigots, though some more than others. Malaysia would be high up there in any bigot ranking.
I mean, look at us. All of us.
We are just plain vilify everyone and never apologise. Bangladeshis, Nepalese and every foreign worker is dangerous. The Chinese will steal your piggy bank if they could.
And our widespread intolerance for race, religion, gender or region comes from the common places; fear, isolation and unease, but the colossal fanning of it to reach endemic levels that is the doing of Umno.
What is politically correct?
That will always be debated. However societies that have a better grasp of their multiculturalism versus nations that are struggling with it have on major difference, the presence of constant dialogue.
Negro people are not upset that people call them nigger, they are upset about the loathing and emotions coming from the utterer when he or she says it. One negro to another could be using the term nigger at each other with no discord resulting.
Same thing with our own derogatory terms.
I am not advocating we should allow our children to use derogatory terms, but I am saying, if we only focus on the use of the language and not the hate underlying, then we just create an environment of hate seething just below the surface and society no further in becoming more tolerant.
That is why I laugh at the nilai-nilai murni approach in Malaysian schools to counter indifference. Our kids are not going to be more tolerant by listening to a sermon, they need to talk about their apprehensions and fears. On why Indian kids might be lazy, or that girls are weak, or that the Chinese kids are dirty.
Schools must facilitate discourse not judge the kids for their bigotry. We need discourse at all levels and all parts of this country, so that we can make real progress in race-relations. The truth is we all have prejudices. And most of these prejudices are primitive and wrong.
The path to tolerance is one of self-examination and it is a personal journey. The state must encourage and facilitate the process.
Malaysia is so far from that think, because the people in power think it is better to keep us separated.