Thursday, June 11, 2009

Goats and Mutton

I’ve never been a fan of the mainstream media and I suspect a vast number of you also cannot stand the pathetic propaganda that gets repeatedly published in these government mouthpieces. Let me be clear: Like so many of you, I’ve also given up taking seriously what passes for so-called news and commentary in these publications. Of course I still enjoy the occasional entertainment I derive from skimming the pedestrian commentaries by some of the conveniently hand-picked columnists.

As a case in point, some days back I came across another pathetic article supposedly lamenting the lack of ‘unity’ among Indians in Malaysia. How ironic, given all the hoopla we’ve had in recent days regarding the subject of ‘unity’ involving PAS and Umno. At any rate, back to the Indians for now. Among other things, the writer made a big fuss about how Indian ‘disunity’ seemed manifest by the proliferation of Indian-based political parties.

Now here is a perfect example of how the absurd communalism rot has become second-nature to even the educated and literate among us. If only we could see that it’s not the apparent disunity that presumably holds Indians from advancing, it’s the racism so pervasive in our social policies. If only these people could recognize that the presence of multiple Indian-based political parties is not even remotely relevant to the source of the problem of lack of Indian progress in the country.

Don’t get me wrong; if I had my way, I’d just as well see all these race-based parties disappear in a heart-beat, as I’m convinced that the main source of our stagnation as a nation is the persistence of these race-based parties, which only affirm the absurd racist system we have become so comfortable with. In the case of the Indians, it matters little whether Indians are eight or eighty percent of the population and whether they have two or twelve political parties representing them.

First, so long as a segment of Indians (and others) are preoccupied with organizing themselves politically along race lines, perhaps we could appreciate the fact that it’s not the number of parties that’s the core of the problem, it the pathetic quality of leadership so prevalent in them that is most disturbing. If we had good leadership, what does it matter if there are two or twelve parties? The key is that the leadership of a party is able to steer the party to represent the people effectively.

Second, why should there not be multiple parties – if there are indeed differing political perspectives, ideologies, and philosophies? It should be self-evident that Indians (or for that matter, any other race group) don’t think alike just because they supposedly share a common so-called race. Forgive me for being so basic. Do all people of French heritage think alike? Do all of German ancestry think alike and have common political beliefs, and therefore should be united under one common political banner? I rest my case.

Exactly why should Indians in this country be pegged under a common political label? Are we all goats, simply to be herded around based on the label branded on us? What utter nonsense. But that’s the kind of so-called analysis you’ll get in the mainstream media and those who pander to the establishment propaganda.

Of course that kind of transparently flawed observations help disguise the real problem, and therefore perpetuates these kinds of race-based parties, which become replicas of each other. They don’t represent any differing political beliefs (as they are mere vehicles for those with extremely big egos). To compound the problem, the flawed criticisms of them we get in the mainstream media don’t challenge the fundamental racist assumptions embedded in these parties. Such pedestrian propaganda also doesn’t challenge us to question the flawed leadership so pervasive in these Indian-based parties. And we all know just how bankrupt the quality of the leadership has been.

Therefore, it should not matter what percentage of the population Indians make up or that there are too many Indian-based parties for such a small population. So long as we’re obsessed with organizing along race-based parties, the number of parties out there ought to at least reflect different philosophies. Instead, what we get are personality cults formed around those with the largest egos.

So, far from there being too many Indian-based parties the real problems lay elsewhere; especially in the flawed leadership and the lack of representation of legitimate differences in political perspectives.

And if only more of us could start to think less like the goats in a herd – something the mainstream media is expert at promoting – and more engaged in dialogue regarding the peoples’ aspirations for equality and fairness, we will keep being treated like goats and steered to nowhere.

It's worth remembering that mutton comes from goats.

G. Krishnan