The Swede’s rhetoric

I have made a few articles about Felix Kjellberg AKA Pewdiepie and one contains my arguments about how he is actually a reckless edgelord instead of an actual far-right ideologue.

I mention how he never makes excuses for the bigotry of some of his fans, how he was (and still is) slandered by the media and how he only invited one right-wing pundit just to review memes instead of letting him spill verbal diarrhea.

But, for some reasons, I forgot to talk about his own rhetoric.

Below, I am going to list the common talking points of contemporary western conservatives:

1. Equal rights are the same as special rights for women and the minorities

2. Women are happier when they are treated as the “lesser sex”.

3. The Southern Strategy never happened and American Democratic party is still the racist party.

4. Taking down Confederate statues equals erasure of history.

5. The Bell Curve is scientifically legitimate.

6. Any violence committed by Christians of European descent, including the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, and the Crusades, were either justified, exaggerated or fictional.

7. All Muslims are sleeper cells.

8. The world is controlled by globalist Jewish elites.

9. Sexual violence is a trivial matter, unless they are committed by brown Muslims.

I am sure there are more recurring talking points than I mentioned above. But, those will do.

Disturbingly, I have seen how they often they are “discussed” by conservatives, especially by those who make Youtube videos,some of whom prefer to call themselves classical liberals.

But, from all online personalities who have been perceived as far-right, Pewdiepie is the only one who has never talked about those things.

Seriously, I have never heard him openly or discreetly espousing any of those lies. In fact, he barely touches politics and he never talks about history; his commentaries mostly revolve around the non-political aspects of Youtube culture.

The thing about our bigotry is it cannot be hidden completely, no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we deny its existence. Even if we are not prone to Freudian slips, our bigotry will appear subtextually in our messages.

I have encountered so many people online who claim to not be bigoted… and yet, if you read their words between the lines, you will notice how hateful they are.

You cannot say you are not a racist when you believe the mere presence of non-whites is the evidence of white genocide. You cannot say you are not a homophobe or a transphobe when you believe LGBT rights discriminate against cisgender and heterosexual people.

But, with Felix, I haven’t seen any far-right subtexts from his online content.

His commentaries are indeed laced with subtexts… classical liberal subtexts; he is all about freeing humans from any excessive constraints, both in social and legal forms. He disapproved of the “policing” of any kind of activities, as long as they are not violent.

Basically, he is the complete opposite of those far-right individuals who are supposedly all about liberty while advocating for taking it away from those who are different from them.

He, the person who never calls himself a classical liberal, is way more classical liberal than the reactionaries who claim to be ones.

About the Christchurch mosque massacre…

Both his name and Candace Owens’s were implicated because they were mentioned by the shooter. The shooter said “subscribe to Pewdiepie”, a meme created by Felix himself, during the live streamed violence while she was cited as his number one ideological inspiration.

And both public figures reacted differently.

Felix was never cited as an inspiration; the shooter mentioned the name of the most popular Youtuber because he wanted more attention.

But, not only Felix immediately condemned the massacre, he pleaded to his fans to end the meme. After his many controversies, after years of being a reckless edgelord, he has realised he has a responsibility as a public figure for every single one of his public actions… and that includes his inherently harmless meme which he created as a tongue-in-cheek response to his rivalry with T-Series.

Owens, on other hand, responded immediately by laughing it off in her dismissive tweet, despite the fact that she is the shooter’s number one inspiration!

I don’t know about her now. But, at that time, it was obvious she did not have any sense of responsibility as a public figure, even though she was famous in the first place because of her politically charged and definitely-not-trivial messages.

She was not that different from Trump who took days to condemn the Charlottesville Neo-Nazi rally attended by his own supporters.

She was not that different from other right-wing public figures who constantly incite bigotry and yet refusing to acknowledge they might have inspired atrocities like the Christchurch massacre.

But, she and her peers are definitely different from Felix Kjellberg.

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My own museum ideas

  • I hate how I grew up in a country where we have an extremely weak museum culture. Most of the museums I have visited are abroad.
  • As an adult, I am no longer into having shopping malls and theme parks as my sources of leisure. If there are no cultural attractions that intrigue in the slightest, I would rather stay at home and watch Youtube videos…
  • ….And browse Wikipedia in where I have spent a significant amount time searching for every article about any museums.

    Being a major time-waster that I am, I now have a few ideas for museums which are not even original. But, if I have the financial means (and the skill and will), I would definitely establish them.

    Museums of hot sauces and fermented seafood.

    That’s my Indonesian tastebud talking.

    I grew up eating dishes which use fermented seafood as ingredients and were often accompanied by chili sauces, or sambal as we call them.

    I have always loved the taste of dried and salted fish. I used to hate hot foods. But now, even though my heat tolerance is still low for Indonesian standard, I am addicted to the hot flavours.

    It would not be a problem if the museums are Indonesia-centric. As the country is gifted with biological and cultural diversity, the museums’ collections would always be huge, assuming they are well-funded and well-managed.

    I am also open to the ideas of making the museums more international either by making a section dedicated to foreign content or making the entire collection international.

    But, my goals for each version differ from one another.

    If the collection is entirely Indonesian, I would want to remind Indonesians about the biological and cultural richness of their country and how the richness should be appreciated and NOT taken for granted.

    If the collection is international, I would want to remind everyone that despite our differences, we still have many things in common and our cuisines are not that different once we take a deeper look.

    I choose foods because every human eats. We can survive without the ability to play music, to dance or to show any forms of craftsmanship. But, we can’t survive without foods. Eating is universal.

    And because I personally love to eat.

    I don’t know where I should locate the museums, though. If they are Indonesia-centric, should I locate them in Jakarta, university cities like Bandung or Jogjakarta, or places with low cultural appreciations like my hometown?

    If they are international, I would definitely locate them in various countries. But, which countries I also don’t know.

    And no, I am not going to think about “maintaining” the perishable collections.

    Museums of Hollywood propaganda

    I think the name explains it and I don’t have to elaborate on why it is needed in the first place and I am focusing on propaganda in American entertainment.

    When it comes to locations, I would definitely establish one in Los Angeles, the headquarters of the industry. Of course, as it is the lions’ den, there will be lots of backlashes. Not to mention that studio executives might have connections in the government.

    Very risky. But, worth the shot.

    But, I am not satisfied about LA is its only location. The question is where else should we locate them?

    Should we choose other major, big cities like NYC, Chicago and Houston? Should we choose the nation’s capital? Should we choose certain university towns where anti-establishment attitude are rampant? Or should we choose urban areas known for unquestioning and zealous patriotism?

    If we want to branch out to other countries, which ones should we choose? Should they be America’s closest allies like Canada and the UK? Do the international locations even matter?

    Museums of human rights violations

    I am not talking about any human rights violations. I am talking about ones that are still controversial due to the persisting historical denialism and whitewashing.

    I am talking about cases like Armenian genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, the expulsion of Palestinians from their own lands, the atrocities committed by Japan in WWII, the 1965 violent anti-Communist purge in Indonesia, history of racism in Australia and the Americas and the coups committed by the US against democratically-elected governments in Iran and Latin America which were replaced with dictatorships.

    You know, topics of light conversations.

    When it comes to locations, I have to make sure they are not in countries where such museums can get shut down by the authorities.

    But, even if censorship is not a problem, I have to make sure at least one case from the host country is included in the exhibition. I want to give the impression to visitors that there is no such thing as angelic countries.

    It is also the reason why I want the museum to be dedicated to many cases instead of just one. It is a lot harder than dedicating to a single case. But, it is worth it.

    I also have to make sure it is located in localities which have lots of foreign tourists and residents. Those localities may include cities like NYC, Sydney, London and even world-famous university towns like Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford and Grenoble.

    I don’t want the learning immersion being mostly exclusive to citizens of one country. Every person, regardless of their national backgrounds, must have the opportunity to experience it.

    Yadda yadda yadda

    It is obvious that my ideas are not only unoriginal, they are also fantastical. I will never create a small museum, let alone a few big ones.

    But, I just can’t help churning my own ideas, even in fields where I don’t have any expertise in. Basically, every field in existence.

    It is fun to write down my fantastical ideas.

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    The real American power…

    … Is actually soft.

    I am referring to the concept of “soft power”, by the way. And no, I am not sorry for that shitty introduction.

    I keep seeing and hearing comments made by zealously patriotic Americans about how their beloved country is respected by the world because of its hard power.

    It is true to a certain extent. If you are one of those non-Americans who easily fall for American exceptionalism and who love jerking off to images of real life violence which America is responsible for while simultaneously getting unprotected, rough butt sex from America, you would drool over its hard power.

    But, most non-Americans aren’t like that. When their governments do bow down to the US, they do so out of not wanting to get screwed on the world stage and NOT out of genuine respect.

    Basically, projections of hard power, more of than not, are a form of bullying. Bullying with dire global consequences.

    But, do you know what people all over the world love? American culture.

    Experts of international relations have been arguing how affinity to foreign cultures will lead us to have more positive views of their countries of origin.

    And because of my own life experiences (which I have to assert as entirely mine), this is something I am not surprised about.

    Despite their constant criticism (bashing) of the USA, many of my fellow non-Americans (in this case, they are mostly Indonesians) can’t get themselves to wish literal death upon the country.

    And they all have one thing in common: they openly enjoy American culture.

    Apart from buying foods from American fast food restaurants and cafes, they go to cinemas mostly for Hollywood flicks, pay for cable TV to Hollywood TV shows and pay to attend concerts of American musicians.

    How about the propaganda present in Hollywood films?

    From what I notice, even some of the most dimwitted folks I know can easily acknowledge the propagandistic content of their sources of entertainment.

    They know that they don’t easily fall for the infamously shameless American propaganda and they also feel Americans can entertain the world like no others. That’s why they are relatively unperturbed about it.

    Me personally? A bulk of my favourite entertainers and artists are Americans; without them, I would have nothing but contempt for the United States of America.

    Oh, and I should say ordinary Americans also contribute to their country’s positive image.

    The last time I was surrounded by Americans, it was almost two decades ago when I visited the US as a young boy. I don’t remember interacting much with the locals.

    But, if one sees the anecdotes posted by many non-Americans online, they frequently perceive the Americans as friendly, easy-going, open-minded, educated and charitable people and often seen as the antitheses of the US government (somewhat debatable).

    The more negative anecdotes are often the results of interacting with the stereotypically jingoistic, war-mongering, fear-mongering, bubble-dwelling and proudly anti-intellectual Americans.

    You know, Americans like Donald “Make America Great Again” Trump.

    Americans who think their Godawful, alpha-wannabe attitudes will gain them genuine respect from the world.

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    Feminists and anti-feminists: a common ground

    *puts on a mask*

    Some people support feminism because they believe it is the most effective way to coerce women into embracing western liberal values.

    They shame women who willingly embrace modest fashion, who willingly choose to become stay-at-home moms, who willingly choose to become abstinent and who willingly choose to become/stay religious.

    Their reasoning? They want to liberate women from the oppressive and medieval eastern values, especially the Islamic ones.

    Some people oppose feminism because they want to protect women from western values and coerce them to keep embracing eastern values, particularly the Islamic ones.

    They shame women who willingly show the slightest appearances of their skin, hair and bodily curves, who willingly choose to be unmarried and childless and who willingly choose to have active sex lives.

    Their reasoning? They want to liberate women from the oppressive and overtly-sexualised western liberal values.

    I have to a suggestion for both feminists and anti-feminists:

    Why don’t you just make peace with each other?

    I mean, it is quite obvious how you actually have something in common with each other: you are advocating to take women’s right to think and act for themselves under the pretense of liberating them.

    Wouldn’t your goals become easier to achieve when you find a common ground with the “others” and form a gigantic and influential alliance?

    Together, you can oppress women to the fullest.

    *takes off the mask*

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    I support colonialism…..

    *puts on mask*

    … because I am insecure little bitch of a citizen who needs extreme empowerment.

    There is nothing more gratifying than the country I unwillingly was born into invade foreign territories and pretend they are destined by the universe to be ours.

    It is even more gratifying that colonialism can also destroy the cultures and economies of the colonies. That way, they can suffer from extreme cultural and economic dependence on the motherlands, giving them even greater power projection on the world stage.

    And I hate how my beloved country of Indonesia is not harsh enough in its colonisation of the Papuans.

    The problem is Indonesia’s official motto is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. Unity in diversity. It forces us to wear a pluralistic mask, hiding the real face of our country.

    Why can’t we be just like the Americans, the English, the French and the Japanese in the old days? If they keep doing what they were doing, so-called “languages” like Hawaiian, Gaelic, Basque and Ainu would cease to exist and the world would be a better place.

    If it were my call, I would do my best to annihilate those savage Papuan “cultures” by punishing anyone who dare to embrace them and force the embrace of Javanese culture, which is inherently noble, wonderfully anti-egalitarian and is definitely a real, proper culture.

    Not only that, I would also encourage skin bleaching and plastic surgery to the Papuans who have the dignity of not wanting to be monkeys.

    Seriously, if people call you monkeys, it’s your fault for looking like ones.

    I also hate how the Papuan provinces are given political autonomy. Literally the only provinces that deserve it are the ones who embrace Javanese supremacy!

    If anything, not only I oppose the transfer of power, I also believe the Papuans should be stripped of their power to vote!

    As they are subhumans, they are unable to make any good decisions. Therefore, they should not be allowed to vote for the presidents and MPs!

    Heck, I even believe they should not choose their own mayors! Everything has to be entirely up to Jakarta!

    Of course, I have to be fair as well.

    Despite my criticism, I also have to praise my country for making Papuans too economically dependent on western Indonesia, to the point they have to survive the high living cost with their pathetically meagre incomes.

    Finally and most importantly, I also love how the government has successfully bred a morally-corrupt, violent and historically-illiterate citizenry.

    When Papuans committed riots after a racist incident, it did not take much time for many Indonesians to condemned them for rioting and not spending a single second on condemning the racists.

    Basically, they thought the Papuans were rioting for no good reasons. Hopefully, many probably still do.

    If I think about it, the pluralistic official motto is a great tool for Indonesia’s colonialism of western Papua.

    Most of us believe the official motto is the reflection of reality instead of a mere guidance. As a result, we see our country as the most tolerant and peaceful in the world despite its glaring bouts of sectarian violence.

    Not only that, we also fool ourselves into believing the falsehood about how Papuans prayed to be rescued by the peaceful and tolerant Indonesians from the colonialist and racist Dutch monsters, even though annexation can be executed without the people’s consent and is a common method used by colonial and imperial powers.

    We greatly mistreat the Papuans and then we gaslight them into believing that the mistreatments are societal well-being. Well-being they supposedly would have never enjoyed if they remain as Dutch subjects.

    While I hate how we are too soft on them, I have to acknowledge that we have been giving them the deserving fingers for decades.

    Now, it is time for us to give even more fingers.

    *takes off the mask*

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    Redesigning a museum (by a non-expert who will never be a curator)

    The Youtube channel Art Assignment hosted by Sarah Urist Green made a video titled Remake The Met. The host, a former museum curator who has a master’s degree in art history, encourages us the viewers to rethink how we curate museum collections. She said that instead of categorising them based on their geographical origins or time periods, why don’t we use other kinds of categorisations?

    Personally, I prefer themes and emotions. I love it when we can see beyond the tangibility. I find it more fun and more rewarding.

    Even though I didn’t bother to check, I already knew my idea was not original. There is no way I was the first person to conceive something that basic!

    Note: After watching the video again, which I did after I almost finished this article, I noticed that Sarah suggested categorising items thematically. Basically, not only my idea is unoriginal, I unconsciously stole hers. Oops!

    But, despise the things I said above, I can credit myself for one thing: I also propose that every section of the museum to be ‘unlabelled’; therefore, visitors have to fathom what every item object in a certain section has in common.

    Sarah made the video because she wanted museum experiences to be divorced from the long-established rigidity. Unless you are an ultra-traditionalist, it is undeniably a good motivation. But, I also have another one: fostering human connections.

    Yes, I know, Even I find my own writing nauseating.

    Categorisation based on cultures of origins means we subconsciously encourage visitors to keep focusing on how different we are from each other. If it is based on intangible entities like themes and emotions, we are encouraged to see beyond the tangible and focus on what we profoundly have in common.

    Obviously, direct contacts are way more effective in encouraging people to pop their sectarian bubbles; even then, they can also results in increasing sectarianism when the participant have no desire to open up in the first place.

    So, it is naive to think that my proposal, which does not require any human contacts, will fight prejudice. I even don’t have any anecdotes to back me up, let alone studies done by actual researchers.

    But still, I would be thrilled if my idea somehow gets implemented.

    I believe encouraging others to reconsider their life perspectives is always worth it, even if many do not end up doing so and will never do…

    … And I genuinely think my idea sounds a lot more fun and compelling than using the usual approach.

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    The problem with forgiveness

    We think we have the right to forgive every person who have committed wrongdoings.

    But, we don’t.

    The prerogative to forgive does not immediately apply to every person in existence. It only immediately so to those who are directly affected by the wrongdoings.

    If you are directly affected by one of those wrongdoings, you are literally the only person who has the right to forgive those who have harmed you.

    Your loved ones have the right to forgive once you have manifested WHOLEHEARTED forgiveness. After they have expressed THE EXACT SAME THING or AFTER THEY ARE DECEASED, the right now transfers to your acquaintances and also to complete strangers who have heard about your suffering.

    But, what if you are deceased?

    Obviously, that right immediately goes to your loved ones. Oh, and when I said “loved ones”, I meant it. Your immediate family members do not immediately count ones.

    Just because you are related to someone, that does not mean you love one another. If anything, it is no secret that family members have not only trivialised the sufferings of their so-called loved ones, but also have intentionally inflicted pain on them.

    If your best friends have shown how much they care about you more than your immediate family have, then they are your true “loved ones” and your family can fuck themselves!

    I believe this problem exists because we communalise sufferings.

    We believe in the idea that if one person suffers, every other person definitely feels the exact same pain. We believe that there is nothing wrong about pretending to feel the exact same pain.

    Even if someone experiences the exact same affliction that you have or had, it does not mean you fully understand his/her suffering. Literally everybody is different; how you live your life won’t always work on other people. Forgiveness is not a universally effective antidote.

    Those who suffer do not need our pretense. They need our empathy.

    Empathy does not require us to pretend. Empathy requires us to simply acknowledge that what they are experiencing is painful to them, even though we don’t feel the pain ourselves.

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    This anger of mine has been slowly brewing for years and the brewing started to intensify when I saw internet users who believed the Nazi war criminals should be forgiven and we should just drop the idea of prosecuting them just because they are old.

    It deeply disturbs me because not only they trivialised the severity of human atrocity committed by the Nazis, they don’t even have any family members who endured the concentration camps.

    Well, I am inclined to believe so because they didn’t mention having victims and survivors of the holocaust as family members. If they want their pleas to be more emotionally impactful, shouldn’t they mention about having those relatives?

    Either they suck in persuasion or they are assholes.

    My anger peaked when one of those plea makers cited the post-genocide Rwanda as a stellar example of forgiveness.

    Except, it is a dreadful example.

    When interviewed by Humans of New York, Rwandan president Paul Kagame said the country decided to not punish those who partook in the genocide.

    Why? Because he said it was impossible to imprison almost the entire country.

    Essentially, what Rwanda did was not forgiveness. What they did was absolution, a state-sanctioned formality, which itself driven by admittedly much needed yet still callous sense of pragmatism.

    It is just dishonest to call this “forgiveness”, isn’t it?

    Forgiveness is supposed to benefit humanity. Instead, it is being used to undermine it.

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    Different types of Hasan Minhaj haters

    Yes, I am going to talk about his haters before I talk about him because of two simple reasons: 1. I am not done analysing him; 2. His haters are annoyingly hilarious to behold.

    Now, where do I start?

    Well, so far, I can place them into three separate boxes: Pro-Duterte Filipinos, pro-Modi and anti-Modi Indians and anti-Zionists, some of whom may be Muslims.

    Those Filipinos accuse him of trying to make their country look bad and India looks good in comparison. They also accuse him of trivialising the deaths caused by drug dealers and gang members.

    Those Indians accuse him of being a Pakistani agent and an Islamic extremist apologist. The Modi detractors among them think he makes the BJP even more powerful.

    Those anti-Zionists accuse him of not making an episode on Israel simply because he fears the pro-Israel US government.

    Some of the anti-Zionists also think he hates his fellow Muslims because he has shat too many times on his fellow Muslims.

    If you actually know him, you would know how stupid those accusations sound.

    Those particular Filipinos probably think his Indian lineage proves his anti-Filipino and pro-India biases.

    Not only it is racist, they also willfully ignore that he has talked more about India in his show than he has about the Philippines.

    I also don’t know how they think “tarnishing” their country’s international image instantly makes India’s looks good. Unless you have lived in both countries, you would NEVER instinctively compare the two with each other. They neither share the same roots nor they are physically side by side. And they certainly are not major rivals.

    He also has made episodes (plural) about sleazy pharmaceutical companies and the acts of violence committed around the world. He would be the last person to be apathetic about violent drug dealers.

    Pro-Modi Indians consider the combination of his anti-Hindutva stances and his Islamic background as a sign of his tolerance of Islamic extremism… even though his very first episode is about Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of Islamic extremism.

    Anti-Modi Indians blame him for boosting BJP’s popularity right before the election… instead of actually blaming it on the Indians who are either supportive of the party or silent of the problems it poses. Blame the turds, NOT the ones who want to flush them away.

    Some Indians (I don’t know if they are pro or anti-Modi) also accuse him of being a Pakistani agent…. and their only “solid” evidence is his green and white hoodie he wore in the Indian cricket episode.

    That evidence is so ridiculous, I pray it is just a joke instead of an expression of sincere idiocy. Knowing humans, there is a high chance of it being sincere.

    Anti-Zionists think his silence on Israel is a sign of his cowardly submission to the US government… ignoring that the US government is the government he condemns the most; even his Saudi Arabia episode includes condemnation of the US government.

    It has been clear to me some of them are Muslims; they hate how he condemns his fellow Muslims a bit too often. Yes, he does shit on his fellow Muslims.

    But, he condemns those who commit religious extremism, which is a fucking good thing to do and you have to be an asshole to believe otherwise. He is unlike those so-called “reformers” who willingly throw their fellow believers under the bus just for the sake of being “palatable” to western reactionaries.

    If anything, he is all about empowerment as he often talks about American Muslims (and minorities in general) overcoming societal discriminations; his Netflix special heavily focused on this matter.

    —-

    Obviously, my categories are grossly simplistic and inadequate. If I even bother to scroll down the comment sections more, I would have more well-thought-out categorisation.

    But still, I am surprised about the dearth of American right-wingers and Pro-Bolsonaro Brazilians on his videos’ comment sections.

    It is surprising because he often condemns the policies proposed and enacted by the GOP (even though the Dems are not spared from his condemnation) and he has made a video about the Brazilian Amazonian people, who loath Bolsonaro; many anti-Bolsonaro videos on Youtube, including John Oliver’s, suffer from unfavourable like-dislike ratio.

    This is not my first time witnessing a public figure’s detractors spewing accusations that are baseless and at odds with each other. But, this is the first time I am mindful of how pronounced the contradictions are.

    The fallacies are more frequently used while the prejudice and the ideological zealotry are more shamelessly naked. His haters are followers of the global trend.

    Even though I am not done with my “analysis” of him, I can confidently say one thing:

    The fact that he has ruffled the feathers of many parties and causing them to react irrationally shows he has done a really great job.

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    Bizarrely mournful

    Many years ago, me, my family and a friend of my sister were vacationing in Singapore (as my Indonesian hometown is just an hour of ferry ride away).

    We made an impromptu excursion to the then-ongoing Titanic exhibition because it genuinely sounded exciting, especially for me, who thinks museums are way cooler than shopping malls and theme parks… and I will fight those who think otherwise.

    After we bought the tickets, it didn’t take long for the strangeness to arose.

    At the entrance, a ticket-checking attendant greeted us and cheerfully said something along the line of, “find out if you survive until the end!”.

    Wait, what?

    I don’t remember if others were shocked or not. But, me? I was personally so weirded out! The sentence itself is dark on its own. But, to exclaim it with a cheerful tone to visitors who just want to have a playful visit is bizarrely dark.

    But, once we entered, I temporarily forgot my sense of bewilderment. I was too busy being enthralled by the content of the exhibition.

    I don’t remember every detail of it. But, I do remember they showcased the actual objects unearthed inside Titanic, which include the passengers’ personal belongings.

    I also remember a segment of the exhibition where they tried to emulate the feeling of being underwater; they did so by (if I remember correctly) installing clear glass floor tiles which revealed the bed of sand beneath, painting the wall black and designing the lighting so that it emits the underwater light effect. Probably the first time I realised curation was an art form.

    But, the climax of the tour was the part when we were shown a list of the actual passengers. Their names and their survival status were on display.

    At that moment, I realised every individual ticket tried to emulate one of an ocean liner by having each of them printed with one of the passengers’ names. Basically, showcasing the story of the Titanic also included making the visitors felt like we were also the passengers!

    I was excited when searching for the fate of my passenger. But, I quickly found out that he was among the casualties. His life ceased to exist on April 15, 1912.

    One or some of the people who visited the exhibition with me laughed at me for “being one of the casualties”. But then, I was too busy grieving to take heed of the mocking laugher.

    Yes, grieving!

    I was genuinely heartbroken the man whose name was printed on my perishable ticket died. It felt like he was someone I had known for many years and death took him away without warning.

    I tried to get rid of the sadness off me… and it literally took me hours to do so. I was and still am an emotional person. But, even at that moment, I felt irrational and extremely mushy for grieving his death.

    Every time I remembered that day, I was always baffled by the occurrence of this “phenomenon”. Basically, I overthought and not immediately realise the ticket was the answer.

    It was very blatant from the start that they printed the passengers’ names on the tickets to enhance the immersion. So, an emotional person like me would probably experience grief after the visit.

    But, that didn’t explain why the grief didn’t strike my mom and sister, especially that they are more likely to fall for sob stories than I am.

    Well, I presume it has something to do with our intentions. Me and my family did visit the exhibition because we wanted to have fun. But, we had different reasons why we considered the visit fun.

    My mom and sister were in it probably because Titanic is arguably the most popular ship in the world and its sinking the most well-known maritime accident. For them, it is pop culture.

    I, on the other hand, just wanted to learn. Yes, I am patting myself on the back. But, I have been curious about anything “useless” since forever.

    When I was young, I read encyclopedias as much as I read comic books. Nowadays, I browse the web to find out about information like the different systems of government and the different styles of postmodern architecture.

    I went to the exhibition because I wanted to know more about Titanic beyond what James Cameron’s film showed. I wanted to learn about what makes the ocean liner so iconic… and, most importantly, I wanted to learn about the untold human stories!

    The immersion made me emotional probably because my intention made me so.

    Now about the intentions of the organisers…

    I don’t know why they printed the passengers’ names on the tickets. Maybe they wanted to create a fun experiences for the masses. But, they might also crossed their fingers and hoped some visitors got emotional as a bonus culmination. I can only speculate.

    But, one thing for sure: I am glad they printed the names. Thanks to them, I realised that empathy is a part of learning experiences.

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    Religious clothing and secularism

    I’ll be straight forward: I disagree with the ban of religious attire in certain public areas and I disagree for two reasons.

    Reason one: the blurred boundary between cultures and religion.

    Take holidays for example. Christmas is a Christian (originally Pagan) festival celebrated by staunch atheists in the western world and the Laïcité-embracing French government, despite its prevailing spiritual significance among devoted Christians. Halloween, another holiday of Pagan/Christian origin, is also celebrated by secular and religious westerners alike. Nowruz is a Zoroastrian holiday celebrated by Persians all over the world, including the ones living in Afghanistan and Iran, despite its prevailing spiritual significance among Zoroastrians.

    In much of the world, we name the planets (and one former planet) in our solar system based on Roman Gods; NASA even has the Project Apollo, which is named after the Roman God. Garuda is a creature in Hindu mythology and yet it is one of the national symbols of Indonesia, a predominantly-Muslim country; in fact, none of of the country’s national symbols are of Islamic origin.

    When it comes to headcovering, many people associate it with Islamic dress. But, everyone with basic religious literacy knows it is NOT an exclusively Islamic thing; it has been used for non-Islamic religious rituals and even for entirely cultural reasons! That’s what both Islamophobes and zealous Muslims refuse to acknowledge.

    Reason two: it is just fucking clothes, for fuck’s sake!

    Okay, I don’t actually believe that.

    I do think what we wear matters depending on the occasions as we can emit impressions, both accurate and inaccurate, to others without uttering a single word. For example: one would never visit a funeral while adorned in party costumes; if one wants to be perceived positively, wear the proper outfit. One must always be mindful of one’s own image. While I try not to judge how people dress, I cannot expect them to do the same.

    But, some people don’t share my mindset. Instead, they genuinely believe our outfits are literally everything and therefore, it is acceptable for them to judge a person’s dignity and even morality solely based on how he/she dresses. I disagree with it because I have an approach called ‘living in reality’.

    Suits and ties are often associated with dignity, despite the fact that sleazy TV journalists, politicians, lawyers and businessmen are almost always seen wearing them. If I have to bring up Muslims, I have met ones who genuinely believe their adherence to strict supposedly religiously-obligated dress codes make them morally superior than me, despite the fact that they are anything but moral as shown by their supports of discrimination and their support of/unwillingness to condemn extremism.

    In the context of state secularism, it is often believed that donning religious attire is an indication of one’s commitment to put one’s religion above everything else. I have met hijabi Muslim women who think Islam should be their countries’ only state religion and their fellow Muslims should be given more rights than the non-Muslims.

    But, I also have met hijabi women who are either apathetic about the topic of state secularism OR are in favour of governance that respect the society’s plurality. I also have met non-hijabi women who are apathetic about this issue and do not see anything wrong with the presence of religions in public schools. In fact, I know one Indonesian Muslim woman who hates hijab and supports the policy of banning hijab… who also refuse to vote for non-Muslim candidates in the recent Indonesian parliamentary election.

    Admittedly, this argument of mine won’t convince many people. Not only it is very anecdotal (and we live in a world where we even don’t take peer-reviewed researchers seriously), it is also challenges the prevailing idea of state secularism.

    It challenges the notion that appearing secular is the same as actually being secular. It challenges the notion that secularism can be achieved simply by removing religiosity out of sight. It challenges the idea that appearances can or should be taken at face value.

    France, a place where religious attires are banned from public schools and government buildings, is arguably the most (in)famous secular state and often hailed as a model of state secularism. Yet, it also gives exemptions to the Alsace region, which funds religious activities of Calvinists, Lutherans, Catholics and religious Jews and makes religious classes compulsory.

    Pre-Erdogan Turkey officially banned hijab in certain places… and yet it already had Religious Affairs Directorate which controlled mosques and appointed Imams, who were officially recognised as civil servants. Iran under the so-called extremely-secular anti-hijab Pahlavi dynasty also had similar approaches regarding religious affairs.

    So much for Laïcité, eh?

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