Backtalk, December 31, 2005

Christmas in Malaysia

I attended the Perdana Peace Forum as a representative of the Malaysian Bar Council. At the start of the forum, a lady seated next to me asked me if Robert Mugabe was attending. I replied, “Not according to the program.” She said that the latest forum program had him down as a speaker. I was shocked and remarked that the organizers might as well have invited Augusto Pinochet and the like. Hardly had I finished, in walks Mugabe with his retinue of guards and aides. Then came added insult: some journalists who were seated on my left were asked to vacate their seats for Mugabe’s hangers-on. It was pathetic. Justin Raimondo’s opening salvo on Mugabe was, therefore, a welcome relief. It was very timely and addressed the concerns of many a participant, including me. …

I too found the forum to be different from what I had originally thought it would be. It was not an exercise in U.S.-bashing. Malaysians generally regard Americans as friends. This has been the case since the Cold War days. A large number of Malaysians are educated in the U.S. America was a role model for us, then. However, in some aspects, this admiration and respect for Americans is fast diminishing. I suppose that this is a result of the current U.S. foreign policy. This is a sad turn of events. If there wis any way I, a non-American, can influence a change in that policy, I will gladly do so. But then, I have not, as yet, come across any such opportunity.

I am not in despair, though. I still think that more and more people-to-people exchange has to take place. Justin Raimondo himself has confessed the effects of this direct contact with Malaysia – an “Islamic” nation of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus, from various ethnic and racial groups, which is a model of peaceful coexistence, tolerance, and mutual respect. Moderation and respect for others – this is the way this young nation has been built. Our early success was in part the result of the support of the American people. The American business presence in Malaysia is still welcome. We will not let the policies of the U.S. government spoil all this. We will be part of the coalition to bring about a change in U.S. foreign policy – the real coalition of the willing: the coalition for peace.

To Justin Raimondo I say, please do enjoy our hospitality. And in this season of giving and receiving, please take your Malaysian experience as our gift to you.

~ Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera

I am a big fan of and from Malaysia. Referring to article by Justin Raimondo, “Christmas in Malaysia,” I am quite happy to say that most Malaysians (Muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, etc.) live side by side in harmony, in peace. Even though we are a Muslim-majority country, we believe that everyone has the right and freedom to express and be themselves. And that’s one of the reasons why we adore American values and the American Constitution. Malaysian people look toward positive American values as an example, but the American government’s aggressive foreign policy we oppose very much.

~ Khairul Akmar Timin

Drums in the Streets

“Chinese have a long, long memory…”

Chinese also have great, great patience – and Chinese have great, great passion and pride that are buried at great, great depth!

As long as their livelihoods weren’t threatened, Chinese farmers have been very passive, even to the point of being indifferent.

However, the Chinese also have had MORE revolutions than any other civilization in the world, dating back 5,000 years. Because of culture, philosophy, and, foremost, royal families’ manipulation and distortion of ancient Chinese philosophies, Chinese people have always been a contradicting force. …

Also, there have been way too many revolutions that have broken out in Chinese history; the Chinese people learned a very profound lesson: stability at ALMOST any cost. There’s a Chinese proverb that goes roughly like this, “Rather be a dog during a peaceful, stable time than a man during a warring, chaotic time.” An ancient Chinese poet wrote a poem about change of dynasty; one of the phrases goes like this: “Rise, the people suffer; fall, the people suffer.” Basically, he’s saying the rise and fall of dynasties is the game of the elite. The rise and fall of powers ultimately comes at the expense of the people.

Even in the current time and age, the Chinese people aren’t very interested in daily politics. The lessons learned during the 5,000 years of history have taught them that as long as the current rulers don’t threaten their livelihood, they should be willing to cooperate. And the current Chinese government also knows where to draw a line. Abolishing taxes on farmers is one of actions to hold that line.

Even the democratic movement of 1989, which drew so much Western attention, didn’t mean much to the average Chinese people. A few million people might seem like a lot in the Western world’s view. BUT all factors included, it didn’t even create a ripple in the pond of Chinese history. By my personal account, I know of many students that went to demonstrate that day for reasons of joining the crowd (for fun) rather than for any real ideological reasons. And many people were the students’ parents, who went to protect their sons and daughters. My parents happened to be in China during that time. By their account, most people stayed home and watched TV, and the majority of the time they weren’t watching the news coverage; most people would rather watch the latest TV series. Their opinion of the movement? A few kid students’ child’s play.

Considering the 1.2 billion Chinese population, if it was a real movement, the government would have been overthrown by now. And throughout Chinese history at every truly massive movement, the military was the first one to revolt. If you ask an average Chinese student who has access to the Internet and foreign media about their thoughts on the 1989 movement, the majority of them don’t see the students that started the 1989 movement as freedom fighters. Most of them will judge them as acting for their own personal gains; judging from what they are doing right now, I tend to agree.

So I don’t see much happening anytime in the near or far future. However, I think the corruption will ultimately do something. The Chinese government is fully aware of the problem; however, the “root” of corruption is too “deep.” If anything, corruption has been/is/will be the most serious problem China is facing.

~ Zhen Zhong Zou

Sascha Matuszak replies:

I agree with you in part – the farmers have much more reason to rebel than, say, the average student – as it has always been. It will take time before the economic revolution settles down enough for the students to begin thinking about change – as you can see in the U.S., a strong middle class can be the tool of the upper class to control the lower classes. And I see this happening here in China as well.

Change is constant, though, so we can only keep watching for a revival of thought, both in China and the U.S., and hopefully the two great countries can influence those around them – I have outlined dreams of mine in “The Sage-King Mindset,” and that is pretty much my job.

Very thoughtful piece by Sascha Matuszak on the WTO.

I would only hope that he and others who are seeking justice in this struggle would stop referring to the “chaos” of Seattle and the “failure” of Cancun. Both of those events were extremely important, essentially peaceful, and need to be examined in context.

Seattle was the first time that anyone really challenged the WTO – and that challenge came from the same people who were supposedly benefiting from the WTO policies, and in a rich country. There was very little destruction – that was largely a media event – and it set the stage for Cancun, which brought out the Koreans in a different venue: a rich enclave in a poor country.

The disaster (for WTO) could hardly have occurred in Hong Kong if it had not been for the preceding two disasters.

I hope that when the stories are told, after WTO and NAFTA and the rest have been defeated, and Cargill has been rendered obsolete and impotent, that credit will be given to the American labor unions that marched in Seattle, and the Starhawk organizations, and of course to the Mexican police and the Korean farmers – everyone in their own way who are searching for a peaceful solution to a problem that heretofore has only been approached through war.

~ Tom Duncan

Sascha Matuszak replies:

I agree – without Seattle and Cancun there would have been no Hong Kong. I suppose the whole thing had me so emotional that I felt the truth but wrote too fast to include it!

Balkan Express

Dear Mr. Malic,

Over the past few years I have come to trust your viewpoint on the Balkans and Yugoslavia. Like many who were totally unfamiliar with this region before the NATO invasion, I need to catch up on understanding. I would appreciate your suggestions to a concise bibliography of not only the present situation but also “background” information in understanding the region as a whole (culture and politics). If you have already done a piece on this please direct me, and if you haven’t and have the time many of us would appreciate it.

~ David McCloud

Nebojsa Malic replies:

Thank you for your compliments. I have done a few “historiographical” articles about the resources available to people who wish to research the Balkans – the good, the bad, and the atrocious: “The Worthy Balkans Booklist,” “Worthless Words,” and “Balkans Online.” Though this is by no means a definitive list, and I need to do a follow-up sometime soon.

Theater of the Absurd

Hello Mr. Malic,

I found your article on Hamlet being staged in Bosnia truly interesting. It never occurred to me that this universal story could be set against an oriental backdrop. I was amazed at the Bosnian director’s imagination to set the play at the time of the Ottoman empire. I hope the crew will stage the play in London; I am sure it sheds new lights on one of the greatest plays of all time.

However, I didn’t quite get your political connotations on this performance. Why do you think is it wrong to include non-Bosnian actors and other crew members in the Bosnian version of Hamlet?

~ Zed

Nebojsa Malic replies:

I used the example of Hamlet to illustrated the absurdity of the “Bosniak” identity as crafted by Muslim politicians. The play was funded by government money, and from everything I’ve had a chance to hear was basically Shakespeare dressed up in Ottoman costumes and “enriched” with some “Bosnian” words in a hack translation. There is creativity, and there is farce; this is the latter.

Nuking Iran With the UN’s Blessing

I really like and support it financially on occasion – I’m in the choir, so to speak. But I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at the opening paragraphs of Mr. Hirsch’s article suggesting that Florida rather than Iran be the target of U.S. nuclear weapons.

Of course I think that the use of nuclear weapons anywhere is wrong, and certainly the moves by the Bush administration to threaten Iran with this are truly frightening and serious, but even I have a hard time taking Mr. Hirsch seriously when he talks about nuking Florida. This suggestion does not work even as an attempt to point out the ridiculousness of nuking Iran. If there is an editor involved in this material at all, he or she should send Mr. Hirsch back to the drawing board to come up with a new opening. I can’t take him seriously at all and cannot read the article.

~ BK, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jorge Hirsch replies:

Well, sorry if the suggestion turned you off; nuking Florida is what follows logically from the administration’s arguments that the media keeps parroting, and I believe it’s useful to say that to highlight the absurdity of it all.

Iraqi Worshippers Risk Their Lives to Celebrate Christmas in Church

It seems to me the most unreported story of the war in Iraq is that American GIs are dying to create a society in which Christians will not be allowed to live. Iraqi Christians are fleeing the country out of fear of persecution by Sunnis and Shi’ite radicals. Killing Christians seems to be one thing both sides can agree on. How would Americans (especially all those right-wing Christians who form the base of support for the war in this country) feel about the war if they understood this?

See the following articles: “Iraq’s Early Midnight Mass,” “Uncertain Christmas for Iraqi Christians,” and “The Mideast’s Beleaguered Christians.”

~ Walter Washington, Charles Town, WV

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