Anti-Malaysian Jingoism, and the missing Golden Rule

Aug 29th, 2010, in Opinion, by

jin·go·ism

noun ?ji?-(?)g?-?i-z?m

source: Merriam-Webster dictionary

extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy

Being out of the country means there is often a substantial delay before one gets one's news, especially those lower down the rungs of urgency. So it is that your author, doing his Sunday web browsing, typed in 'Jakarta' in the Google News search box, and belatedly discovered the latest round of the perennial Indonesia-Malaysia dispute.

From today's Jakarta Globe:

Having a movement has taken on a totally new meaning in this country thanks to some nincompoops who see the brown-colored end product of the bodily function as a viable instrument for expressing patriotism.

I’m referring to the farcical incident last week where a group of demonstrators flung human feces at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta.

I'd recommend reading the letter in full to get the whole picture. My initial reaction is that of despair, one I shared with the columnist, Mr. Siahaan -- the lower elements in our society has again made a fool of all of us, with scant hope of anything positive coming out of this. One also thinks of similar xenophobic demonstrations in other countries whose political systems fall short of mature democracy -- where such demonstrations are useful to let off steam, and to redirect resentment away from the ruling political class. After all, one could hardly imagine our own Parliament or National Palace be defaced in a similar way, with our national flag burned, without the perpetrators being severely dealt with.

It's this double standard that, upon reflection, is the gist of my concern. Public display of fecal matter is a controversial topic -- recall the New York controversy involving Chris Ofili's painting of the Virgin Mary, even though in that context, the use is hardly derogatory, whereas in this case it certainly is. Not only insulting, but illegal -- if defacing your neighbour's property is illegal, defacing sovereign property is ... I'm not a lawyer, but definitely a matter of foreign policy concern.

Compared to this, the flag-burning itself is less worrisome from a legal perspective, though equally troubling as a cultural phenomenon. After all, in most countries, only one's own flag is sacrosanct from such acts of vandalism, and some more enlightened countries even protect the right of citizens to burn their own flag (kudos to the United States). Are we to be equated with the mobs of the Arab street, where US and Israeli flags, and effigies of their leaders, are periodically burned?

All the Abrahamic faiths, and many others, teach the Golden Rule:

"That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."
—Talmud, Shabbat 31a
Do to others as you want them to do to you.
—Bible, Luke 6:31a
“None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”
—An-Nawawi's Forty Hadith 13 (p. 56)

As such, until we're open-minded enough to see our public building defaced by a foreign mob, and our flag burned, we should not do so to others. The beauty of tolerance and mature rationality, of course, is that at that point in time we would not want to do it to others to begin with.


25 Comments on “Anti-Malaysian Jingoism, and the missing Golden Rule”

  1. avatar David says:

    I’ve never taken the anti-Malaysian stuff all that seriously and I don’t fully understand it; this was interesting

    Puluhan mahasiswa yang tergabung dalam Kesatuan Aksi Mahasiswa Muslim Indonesia (KAMMI) Jombang, Jawa Timur, menggelar mimbar bebas ‘Ganyang Malaysia’

    even the Islamic groups getting in on the act.

  2. avatar ET says:

    even the Islamic groups getting in on the act.

    They are brainwashed to such a degree they have become robots and will do anything their religious leaders ask. Thinking outside the box isn’t particularly an islamic virtue.

  3. avatar deta says:

    They are brainwashed to such a degree they have become robots and will do anything their religious leaders ask. Thinking outside the box isn’t particularly an islamic virtue.

    Sorry I can’t follow your reasoning. Why do you think their religious leaders ask them to attack an Islamic country? Isn’t it something “out of box” for them to put nationalism above religionism?

  4. avatar David says:

    Well last time I remember this happening, when there were threats of ‘sweeping’ against Malaysians in Indonesia, I do remember some Islamic groups saying they would go out of their way to protect Malaysians studying in Indonesia, as they were Muslim brothers, etc. It just seems a little different this time.

  5. avatar ET says:

    Why do you think their religious leaders ask them to attack an Islamic country?

    I have no idea. But the fact is they do, even if it’s another islamic country. Do you have a better explanation?

    Isn’t it something “out of box” for them to put nationalism above religionism?

    Do you believe they make a deliberate distinction? I believe they are only doing as they are told to. This is what I meant by ‘in the box’. They profiled themselves as KAMMI, a muslim group, and not as some nationalistic movement, free from religious influence.

  6. avatar deta says:

    Do you have a better explanation?

    No, should I ask them? But to me it is an evidence that there is a broad spectrum of the so called Islamic organizations carrying their own vision and prioritizing on various different aspects, rather than a singular-robotic-in the box movement.

  7. avatar principessaluna says:

    It is such a shame that our neighboring countries with so many cultural aspects in common could not get along. Of course, it seems a little far-fetched to compare our South East Asian nations with Western Europe, but at least no feces-throwing sessions would happen there. What does that say about our country, and about the people? If we treat people with respect, won’t they return the favor regardless of what race or religion?

  8. avatar Michel S. says:

    It’s not that long ago that relations between Western European nations were disastrously hostile (and, even now, some European countries still hold unwarranted stereotypes of their neighbors. The Brits still have a knee-jerk reflex to view Germans from a WW2 perspective) — but yes, given the parallels between EEC/EU on one hand and ASEAN on the other, it’s sad that the region as a whole is not really pulling together. We’re more like the south American and African trade blocks — an association that has yet to fulfill its promise.

    Respect goes both ways, and as the Globe columnist noted, Malaysia is not blameless in stoking up the mutual cultural resentments. But we certainly should attempt to raise the level of discourse, not to lower it even further, as the feces-throwing has now done.

  9. avatar Michel S. says:

    some Islamic groups saying they would go out of their way to protect Malaysians studying in Indonesia, as they were Muslim brothers, etc.

    could anyone familiar with the Qur’an and Hadith inform me if they have the equivalent of the Good Samaritan parable? Malaysia is not founded as an Islamic country (though it’s drifting that way) and 40% of its population is not Muslim. Many are not even “people of the Book”. Would the Islamic groups only protect their co-religionists? Xenophobia is bad enough but when it’s combined with religious bigotry it’s even more repugnant.

  10. avatar ET says:

    could anyone familiar with the Qur’an and Hadith inform me if they have the equivalent of the Good Samaritan parable?

    They have the notion of zakat i.e. tax, alms, tithe as a Muslim duty; Sunnis regard this as the fourth Pillar of Islam. Neither charity nor derived from Islamic economics, but a religious duty and social obligation, and only among Mulims.

  11. avatar Michel S. says:

    That’s not really an equivalent, rather the diametric opposite: the Samaritan parable is about helping those that despise you, when their own kind turn away from them.

  12. avatar ET says:

    @ Michel S.

    That’s not really an equivalent, rather the diametric opposite: the Samaritan parable is about helping those that despise you, when their own kind turn away from them.

    I’m not too familiar with biblical parables but it’s an interesting story. Does it also tell what happened next? Was the Jew grateful, did he and the Samaritan become friends or did he bite the hand that fed – or dressed – as what happens in Aceh?

  13. avatar diego says:

    But we certainly should attempt to raise the level of discourse, not to lower it even further, as the feces-throwing has now done.

    But they got what they deserve, right?

  14. avatar David says:

    Another little gem

    Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang (UMM), demi nasionalisme menolak calon mahasiswa asal Malaysia terutama untuk fakultas kedokteran dan farmasi.

  15. avatar David says:

    Even Upin & Ipin are in danger!

    Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia (TPI) menghormati usulan Wakil Ketua DPR Taufik Kurniawan untuk menghentikan program tayangan ‘Upin & Ipin’, sebagai gertakan ringan pada Malaysia. TPI akan menghentikan tayangan edukatif itu jika ada keputusan embargo pemerintah terhadap produk Malaysia.

  16. avatar deta says:

    I consider it as a children’s right violation and a very irrational step in addressing a political dispute between two countries. A lot of Indonesian children will cry a river for this. Can they just pick someone on their own size?

    And it becomes ironic when they still send migrant workers to Malaysia

  17. avatar ET says:

    I’m referring to the farcical incident last week where a group of demonstrators flung human feces at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta.

    Where have I seen this kind of behaviour before? Oh yes, here, and there.

  18. avatar xcen says:

    @Michael S.
    …A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him. The piety is here, (and while saying so) he pointed towards his chest thrice. It is a serious evil for a Muslim that he should look down upon his brother Muslim. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith; his blood, his wealth and his honor. Sahih Muslim Book 31, Number 6219.
    That”s from hadist.

    For more explanations:
    http://www.themodernreligion.com/basic/charac/brother.html

  19. avatar Michel S. says:

    Note [Borderline comment — see reply below] This is the first post where I’ve had to remove a number of non-spam comments for uncalled-for language, name-calling and basically engaging in the verbal equivalent of the demonstrators’ irrational diatribe, which is rather sad. Constructive criticism is always welcome, folks, but behave yourself; this is a public forum!

    Diego, you might want to justify your argument. There is a distinction between what is ethical and what is lawful, true, so I’m assuming that since I already argued that desecrating a foreign embassy is obviously illegal, you’re of the opinion that it is ethically justified. I fail to see the case myself, but please enlighten us.

    If this is a justified escalation, then where does it stop? I won’t even voice possible further escalations here, in case it might be misconstrued as a call to violence. There’s been enough miscommunications already.

  20. avatar diego says:

    C’mon, we’re not jesus, we’re not buddha. Sad but maybe true, we’re all more moisesians (eye for eye, tooth for tooth) or mohameddans (kill them all). Based on that understanding you can see why malaysia deserve what they got.

  21. avatar rustyprince says:

    I’ve spend time in all the SE Asian nations with the exception of the Philippines and I’ve chosen Indonesia as my base because of the exceptional beauty of its landscape/seascapes but primarily because of the warmth of its people. But re Malaysia I feel Indonesia’s attitude is one of envy at the success of its neighbor and this conditions the idiotic displays of flag-burning and the more vulgar un-mentionables.

    Ok, so with SBY feeling sleighed with his ‘beseeching’ letter going unanswered may I suggest a simple/effective method for Indonesia to diminish its Sumbang neighbor – namely curtail all emigration to Malaysia, order the WNI to come home and tell those indolent, arrogant pre-Madonna’s to take care of their own spoilt brats, clean out their own trash and asphalt their own inter-city’s. I’d give it two years before Malaysia goes into a tail-spin, no way it’s going to turn to Buddhist Burmese or Christian Filipinos to fill the labor void putting the prebumi Islamic hegemony under threat, likewise Indians or Bangladeshis which would mean placing the sanctified discrimination of the 15% South Asian minority at risk. So SBY within weeks when they see you’re serious they’ll be beating down the doors to offer a groveling apology, but don’t be too quick Mr President, first demand they stop the random unwarranted targeting of Indonesian and poor Malays – I can’t tell the diff – for document inspection. Just imagine the kudos you’ll gain for such a stance, the miskin Malays of Kelantan, Kuantan will no-longer dread the humiliating visits to the Klang Valley, repeatedly cornered for documentation without which their kneeling with the 100 Indonesians I saw rounded up under Pasar Sini monorail station. SBY do this and your status will rise to Sulaiman proportions, all you have to do is avoid the temptation of the million dollar bribe from the greasy go-between businessman. Your legend will last a millennium, SBY supplanting Diponegoro as the greatest ever, the next great boulevard in your name, and who knows maybe the new capital in Kalimantan.

    The alternative is for Indonesia to leave the pre-pubescence nonsense behind, study Malaysia’s success, stop the paranoia and petty jealousies which you incidentally also direct to the ‘Bule’ male whose Superman aura leaves you mired in inferiority – so tie him up in red tape and visa restrictions to diminish that redhot luster – and come on believe in Yourselves, you’re a fabulous, wonderful, interesting people, Maylasia can’t get enough of your music &culture, so just open up and let the whole world in and not just the Big Spending Exploiters and Wahabiast Sheiks presenting you with cheques for a return to the ‘dark ages’.
    Ayo Indonesia,,,,, Negara Mantap

  22. avatar realest says:

    I love this country …. because this country don’t care much for logical sense or reasoning. My driver injects me with fresh doses of fallacy on a daily basis =)

  23. avatar Michel S. says:

    I guess the grass is always greener on the other side 🙂 If you are born into such an illogical culture and you actually think logically, it’s not that entertaining as if you are just temporarily here.

  24. avatar Odinius says:

    Hi Michael,

    There is, first, zaqat (obligatory alms giving). Then there is also the concept of sadaqa (non-obligatory alms giving, or charity). There are a bunch of Quranic verses related to sadaqa, but these are particularly relevant:

    “Give to the near of kin his due, and also to the needy and the wayfarers. Do not squander your wealth wastefully; for those who squander wastefully are Satan’s brothers, and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (17:26-27)

    “For those who give in charity, men and women, and loan to Allah a Beautiful Loan, it shall be increased manifold (to their credit), and they shall have (besides) a liberal reward.”(Qur’an 57:18).

  25. avatar sputjam says:

    Malaysian bumis are similar to those from sumatra and kalimantan, i.e. predominantly malay.
    maybe the javanese have some problem relating to these groups.

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