Some nationalistically zealous westerners I have encountered love to claim that their countries are bigotry-free.
Their evidences? People of religious and racial minority backgrounds not being hunted down like animals, having high-ranking jobs both in public and private sectors and even becoming celebrities. How can there be bigotry when minorities can achieve high status in their own countries?
I notice that those people often harbour anti-Muslim sentiment as well. With that in mind, I want to do the same thing with my country.
I declare that Indonesia, world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, is free from any bigotry, both religious and racial!
Indonesians Christian thrive in every field imaginable; from national government to corporate business, they can ace everything! There are also Hindus thriving in national governmental institutions; some have also become high-ranking government officials!
Our state broadcaster broadcast not just Islamic sermons, but also Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu and, recently, Confucian ones. From all of those religions, only Confucianism does not have dedicated state-funded universities.
In the 50’s, while western Protestants and Catholics were too busy hating each other, Indonesia already had non-Muslims working as high-ranking government officials. Not to mention that from all historical figures who are appointed as national heroes, at least forty of them are non-Muslims.
Chinese-Indonesians are among the most well-off and educated demographics in the country. They also thrive in almost every field imaginable. In fact, one of the most beloved politicians in the country is of Chinese descent… and also a Christian.
Apart from paragraph four, those are indeed facts. I have used them to rebuke foreigners who think Indonesia is the same as Saudi Arabia and ISIS territory. But, I will never use them to sweep the dark side under the rug.
Indonesia only officially recognises those six aforementioned religions, none are indigenous. Those who identify with none of them have to choose one in official documents. Students cannot opt out of religious classes at schools, including the public ones. While there are non-Muslim high-ranking government officials, Indonesian presidents have always been Muslims.
It is also much easier for non-Muslims to be charged with blasphemy than Muslims are; that Christian Chinese-Indonesian politician was convicted while his detractors – many of whom are Muslim extremists – have yet to be. While rare, violent religious clashes have definitely occurred. Not to mention Islamic extremism is getting more and more common and the government barely do anything about it.
And race relations are even worse.
For more than thirty years, Chinese-Indonesians were banned from publicly expressing their ancestral heritage and running for office. They were disproportionately blamed for supporting communism, even though non-Chinese-Indonesians were just as active as communists. In the late 90’s riots, they were brutalised, raped and had their houses and livelihoods burned down; they have yet to get justice. While the far richer ones were safe, their socioeconomic status made them an even bigger scapegoat.
Don’t forget the Indonesian Papuans. While they don’t suffer from pogroms (that I know of), they are certainly among the most neglected demographics. The national government started building highways in the region only a few years ago. The poorest and second poorest provinces in the country are the Papuan ones and, at the same time, one of the most expensive cities in the country is also Papuan; I doubt the government can afford to pay the subsidies forever.
I should also mention Western New Guinea – now called Indonesian Papua – was annexed from the Dutch. While there were Papuan individuals involved, there are no evidences that the annexation had widespread support among the Papuans.
Their homeland was annexed, they have been neglected from the very beginning, they get called monkeys… and the flag-wavers have the gall to accuse them of acting like thin-skinned and ungrateful brats.
I believe that even if Chinese-Indonesians and Papuan-Indonesians are predominantly-Muslim, they would still get severely discriminated against. Their races and/or non-Austronesian lineage make them easy targets.
Oh and that beloved Christian Chinese-Indonesian politician? He is also one of the most hated public figures.
Now, what’s the point of my rambling?
If an Indonesian of minority backgrounds has criticisms about Indonesia, especially ones based on their personal experiences, and I respond by spewing paragraphs four to seven, you would be justifiably angry at me.
Instead of acknowledging the reality, I choose to whitewash it by claiming the good side is the only existing side. Not only I choose to be intellectually dishonest, I also give my fellow human beings the finger by dismissing their grievances. My mind fails to realise that one can praise and condemn a country at the same time.
Now, what if I am not an Indonesian Muslim of Austronesian descent? What if I am a Christian westerner of white European descent….
… And I screech about how my western homeland is the epitome of multiculturalism because non-whites and non-Christians can achieve high statuses and be free from lynching, even though stereotypes, hate speech, discriminations and history denialism are rampant?
Some of you would still be angry at me. Some.
The rest of you would actually agree with me. You see the west as literally the only beacon of civility and morality in existence, where literally every good thing in life comes from. You cannot comprehend the world outside the west has anything good to offer without western influences.
No, don’t deny it. You know damn well those people exist. In fact, you may be one of them.
If you perceive any criticisms of your beloved western homeland as slanderous and bigoted, you are one of those people.
If you perceive any acknowledgement of the positive aspects of the Muslim and/or non-western world as whitewashing, you are one of those people.
If you condemn the Muslim and/or non-western world for doing something and yet praising the west doing the exact same thing, you are one of those people.
If you believe Muslims and/or non-westerners are obligated to be grateful of westerners for every good thing in life, you are one of those people.
if you have believe minorities not getting mass murdered is enough to make the west the bastion of multiculturalism, you are one of those people.
If you feel personally attacked by this blogpost, you are definitely one of those people.
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