So, you have visited other countries and think you know the world?

If you visit other countries as a tourist, do you go to the tourist traps or do you go to where the locals at and interact with them?

If you can speak a foreign language, is your fluency high or is it only enough to order foods at restaurants?

If it is high, are you fluent only in the standard dialect which you can learn entirely in classes? Or are you also fluent in at least one vernacular speech which you can only learn from the streets?

If you live in other countries, do you live among your fellow immigrants or do you live among the locals?

If you live among the locals, are they fluent in foreign languages and very comfortable with anything foreign? Or are they those who can barely speak one and unfamiliar with anything foreign?

What are you trying to gain by interacting with foreigners? Do you want your validation for your beliefs? Or do you actually want to learn?

If you want to gain new knowledge, how do you gain it? Do you interact only with specific groups of a country’s population? Or do you interact with as many citizens as possible?

If you have gained it, how is the quality? Is it very black-and-white and easily digestible? Or is it too nuanced and intricate to be explained simplistically?

Yes, there are such thing wrong answers.

If you cannot speak the people’s everyday languages…

If you don’t go to where the locals at…

If you live only among the fellow immigrants or locals who are familiar with anything foreign…

If you interact only with a small number of locals instead of interacting with as many as possible….

If your interactions with them give you black-and-white and/or belief-affirming “knowledge”…

Then, I can definitely say you still know little about the world beyond your country’s borders. It is apparent you still haven’t fully left the bubbles you grew up in.

Not everyone will fall for your international relations “credentials”.

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Your unique country isn’t

For non-Americans, it can be a bit weird how Americans identify themselves with their home states when introducing themselves. It does not matter if they interact with foreigners, who may not have heard of the more ‘obscure’ states.

In a Youtube comment section (forget which one), a commenter pointed out that weirdness. Then, among the repliers, there had to be that one annoying person.

He/she could have said this was just an American quirk or had something to do with strong sense of regionalism.

Nope. For him/her, it proves America is literally the only diverse country on earth.

Others, me included, were quick to point out the US of fucking A is NOT the only one. There are countries like Canada, Australia and Brazil where the indigenous populations are brutally sidelined by Europeans of various nationalities and also ones like China, South Africa, Malaysia, India, China and Indonesia. Yet, when introducing themselves to foreigners, people of those countries always refer to their countries instead of their home provinces, states or what have you.

After me and others kept pestering him/her, she/he relented. But then, she/he proceeded to claim that the cultural differences are more pronounced in the US than they are in other countries.

Again, not true. In Indonesia alone, you can easily see how different the ethnic groups are just by looking at their traditional attires or by eating their dishes; I don’t remember what other commenters said about this. He/she did relent for the second time.

But then, she/he claimed that unlike the other countries, USA consists of people who don’t share the same roots.

He/she was right to say the people in those countries share the same roots. The majority of Chinese mainlanders are Hans, most languages in India are either Indo-Aryan or Dravidian, the majority of people in South Africa are of Bantu roots and most Indonesians are of Austronesian roots.

But then, the majority of Americans are descended of Europeans who mostly spoke Indo-European languages. Besides, nowadays, most of them are monolingual Anglophones; their surnames are the only remnants of their non-Anglo heritage, assuming they haven’t been Anglicised.

To make this more frustrating, that person was not the first person I encountered who exaggerated America’s uniqueness, particularly regarding diversity. It shows how ignorance about the world can mislead us into embracing exceptionalism.

I have also encountered people who make this argument about the west as a whole. They use this argument not because they believe in exceptionalism, but because they hate how the west is the only place where multiculturalism is supposedly ‘enforced’…

… Which is, of course, bullshit. Not only diversity exists elsewhere, there are African and Asian countries significantly more diverse than the European ones.

According to Alesina et al and Fearon’s ethnic and cultural diversity indexes, African, Asian and Latin American countries -especially the African ones- easily outrank the west. In fact, the indigenous populations of many non-western countries are already diverse without immigrants.

Iran’s biggest ethnic group forms 50-60% of the population. Afghanistan’s two biggest ethnic ones comprise 40-50% and 25% of the population. Indonesia’s? 40% and 18%. Kenya’s biggest is 17%. Papua New Guinea’s population is almost nine million and it has over eight hundred indigenous languages. Vanuatu? Three hundred thousand people, over a hundred and ten languages.

And we haven’t talked about religions, yet… which in this case, I have to refer to Singapore: biggest religion 33%, second biggest 18%. Unusual, even for many diverse countries.

Those countries are effortlessly multicultural without boasting how multicultural they are. Heck, some even never utter the word.

My point is multiculturalism is not an exclusively western thing. The more you know about the world, the more stupid it is to believe otherwise.

Oh, and if you want to insist on your country’s uniqueness and/or victim status, make sure to mention things that do not happen fucking elsewhere!

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Forgot to mention this: diversity also applies to non-white indigenous people of western countries.

In the US, there are five hundred and seventy four federally recognised tribes. In Australia, four hundred. In Brazil, at least two thousand, not accounting undiscovered ones. Mind you, those are the numbers AFTER they have experienced centuries of genocide by the Europeans.

Can you imagine if the genocides never happened? The Americas and Australasia would be even more diverse than they are now. They would easily rival Africa and Asia.

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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    How to ‘feel’ powerful?

    *puts on a mask*

    Yes, I said ‘feel’. Let’s face it, you know you are not powerful and will never be so! You will always be a pathetic bottom dweller that the upper dwellers will feast on! That’s a sad fact you have to accept!

    But, that doesn’t mean you cannot ‘feel’ powerful. You can induce the feeling by fooling others and yourself about your make-believe power. Of course, I am talking about being a bully.

    Before becoming one, you have to choose your victims. It always depend on where you are.

    When at schools, you can pick on students who are poor, physically unfit or just plain different. When you see yourself as a member of society at large, you can pick on the ones who belong to marginalised groups like women, the poor, racial minorities, religious minorities, gender and sexual minorities and refugees. Basically, choose ones who most likely will not be protected by the authorities.

    After you have determined your potential victims, you can start bullying them. Immediately, you will feel like a much more powerful! And trust me, you would not be the only one who senses your actually-non-existing power.

    Indifferent bystanders, bullying apologists and even your victims will acknowledge its existence. In fact, the more your victims’ powerlessness intensifies, the more they will acknowledge it!

    Oh, and apologists are your best friends! Not only they will defend your right to bully because they don’t see anything wrong with the bullying, they will also condemn or even punish your victims for having the dignity to fight back! Trust me, those apologists tend to be influential wherever they are. Their words are often taken for granted.

    But, even if you don’t have apologists to back you up, rhetoric can be your weapon. You can defend yourself by slandering your victims.

    Tell everyone that the weird kids in school will grow up as serial killers!

    Tell everyone that the gender and sexual minorities are perverts who want to molest our children and/ recruit them to their perverted lifestyles!

    Tell everyone that the poor are the ones who hold the economies down because they are greedy animals who oppress the rich!

    Tell everyone that empowering women and members of the minorities will lead to men and members of the majority becoming second-class citizens!

    Tell everyone that refugees are nothing but a bunch of cowardly rapists and ISIS, MS13 Trojan horses!

    Tell everyone that your victims, NOT you, are the ones who commit atrocious acts of inhumanity against their fellow human beings!

    Trust me, there will be people who take your words for granted.

    And yes, it is that easy to feel powerful.

    *takes off the mask*

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    My thoughts about Trevor Noah

    Okay, I should mention the controversy regarding his anti-Semitic jokes. While I do agree jokes don’t always represent a person’s true character, those Jewish jokes are particularly hard for me to handle.

    My problem with them is not because they were crude, but because they were not expressed in any appropriate contexts; I have no problem if they are done while playing Cards Against Humanity or the joker mockingly portrays an anti-Semite. So, even though I don’t think Noah is an anti-Semite, I also cannot defend his jokes. I am also not surprised Comedy Central defended him. But, he did have an unlikely defender.

    The chairperson of South African Jewish Board Of Deputies.

    I can’t say if other South African Jews shared her sentiment. But, she did defend him by saying it was his style of humour and he was just being playful. The fact that a Jewish individual who led a Jewish organisation defended crude Jewish jokes seems mind-boggling to me.

    This case convinces me that while there is nothing inherently wrong about getting offended by jokes, we should never do so on the behalf of others; our feelings are ours. Let the actual targets of the jokes decide whether they are offended or not.

    The criticism against his past jokes is valid. But, there are other criticism that, to this day, I still find stupid.

    First and foremost, some fans of the old Daily Show find Noah not funny. Obviously, not finding someone funny is not a bad thing; humour is subjective after all. But, instead of trying to be actual critics by pointing out the actual flaws in his humour, many prefer to use the ‘my-taste-is-better-than-yours’ argument.

    Well, those particular people also have this way of discrediting Noah: just point out that he does not write his own materials! Of course, the method is stupid in so many ways. Not only it inherently does not prove his unfunniness, it shows how they know nothing about him and the entertainment industry.

    Trevor Noah is not just a random South African dude Jon Stewart randomly picked. Before The Daily Show, not only he already had an established career, TDS was not even the first American show he had appeared on; prior to his ‘tenure’, he already had years of experience creating his own jokes. When he becomes the host, he is indeed assisted by a team of writers. But, he still writes his own jokes, nonetheless.

    Those detractors also don’t realise virtually every scripted entertainment TV show in the US has a team of writers. So, if they really believe what they are saying, that means they believe every late night TV host in the country, including the beloved Jon fucking Stewart, is a talentless hack. Do they seriously think those TV hosts can long monologues almost daily… just by themselves? They are not Gods, they are human beings. If they try to do that, I am sure they would rage quit in less than a month.

    If anything, I believe Noah performs much better without the writers. His scripted TDS performances often feel stilted and fail to encompass his trademark intercultural dynamism. The scripts fail to embody his personality. For me, his best performances are his solo stand-ups and his Between-the-scenes videos.

    In the latter, not only he has proven himself as skillful in making jokes on the spot, he is able to engage with members of the audience and answer their impromptu questions intelligently and articulately. As much as I love Jon Stewart, I think Noah beats him in those departments.

    Now about Noah being a foreigner…

    His critics believe his status as a foreigner supposedly can make him emotionally detached from issues affecting Americans. On the surface, the concern seems valid; it is indeed very hard to get passionate about the plights of places you were not born and raised in.

    Hard, but not impossible.

    Just like Americans who have become invested in other countries’ problems (to the point of being proud interventionists), non-Americans like myself are also preoccupied by America’s internal issues. While the sympathy can be misguided or provoked by gross misinformation, its ability to transcend borders has been proven from time to time.

    Americans should also be aware of their status as the world power (never mind Beijing catching up quickly). Like it or not, the world stage constantly focuses its many spotlights on America’s best… and worst. Like it or not, the world knows more about America than America knows about the world. If America can destroy other countries by installing dictators that serve its own national interests, foreigners have the right to join its domestic conversations.

    I also believe Noah’s status as a foreigner can be a plus point. Many citizens all over the world, not just Americans, feel invaded when foreigners trespass the conversations. The feeling of being intruded is understandable. But, if we want the conversations to move forward and possibly reaching substantial solutions, we must be perceptive. We must lend our ears to dissenting yet reasonable voices.

    And, like it or not, they include ones of well-informed foreigners.

    If their words anger us, we should ask ourselves: are we angered by their falsehood or are we angered by their truthfulness? That depends on what kind of citizens we are. If we are ones who believe in our countries’ so-called flawless and inherently moral foundations, then it is obviously the latter.

    Speaking for myself, I am strongly benefited by the consideration of foreign perspectives. They gave me lenses that I never knew existed, let alone I could utilise. Thanks to them, I learned something negative and positive about my home country that I had never realised before: while Indonesia is way more tolerant of bigotry than the US is, its embrace of diversity (when occurs) is also more sincere and less likely to be inflicted by feelgood tokenism.

    And, if they are willing to listen, Americans can also learn a lot from well-informed foreigners like Trevor Noah.

    In one Between-the-scene video, he noticed how South African police officers were more likely to see themselves as citizens with higher civic responsibilities than their American counterparts, who tended to see their badges as tickets to infinite amount of unaccountability.

    In another Between-the-scenes video where he got a scathing letter from the French ambassador (who had so much time on his hand, it seemed) for declaring Africa the winner of the world cup, he observed how the US gives rooms to hyphenated identities while France only tolerates ones entirely derived from the la Métropole.

    (I also have to add that France looks down on its own regional accents and is very eager to bring its own regional languages, which are not intelligible to French, to extinction; if anything, France seems to derive its identity almost entirely on the Parisian one. Correct me if I am wrong).

    His words functioned as reminders to his American audience. They must remember that the police’s job is to protect us, NOT to oppress us. They must acknowledge that inclusiveness, NOT enforced homogeneity, is what makes America admirable on the world stage, it is what makes America great in the first place.

    Okay, one may argue hiring him in order to add foreign perspectives is unnecessary; they could have chosen Canadians Jason Jones and Samantha Bee and Brit John Oliver as they also have the ability to add some. But, their backgrounds would not make much difference.

    While Canada is an Anglo-Franco country, both Jones and Bee are Anglo-Canadians and they are very much almost indistinguishable from their cousins down south. Oliver is from the UK, which is another Anglo-western country that has been maintaining a strong alliance with the US for many years and sharing similar stances regarding international affairs.

    Compared them to South Africa, a country which heritage is not only influenced by the diverse Bantu cultures, but also British, Dutch and Asian ones. Not to mention Noah is a biracial man who grew up under Apartheid and, apart from English, is able to speak Afrikaans -the descendant of Dutch-, German -the native tongue of his Swiss father-, and five Bantu languages.

    If either Jones, Bee or Oliver was promoted instead, the shift in the show’s angle would not be as global. It would still be America-centric.

    Almost every time I encounter criticism of him, the so-called critics love to make a big deal out of his nationality and act like their taste of humour is objectively the best in the universe. Almost every time, the criticism is far from actually constructive.

    I consider myself a fan of his… and yet, I am able to bring myself to criticise him. I have a distaste for his past, edgy jokes and I think him labelling Antifa as ‘vegan ISIS’ shows how he still falls for false equivalences; I am open to being exposed to more of his flaws. But, the ‘haters’ did a horrible job of critiquing him.

    If anything, they make me love him even more. If they never pointed out about him having a team of writers behind his back, I would never realised how good of a showman he is. If they never made a big deal out his nationality, I would never see it as an advantage his colleagues lack.

    Okay, I make it sounds like all of his critics are just haters; I have no doubt reasonable ones who can provide constructive criticism also exist. But, somehow, the ones I encountered online were indeed just mere haters. If I explore more internet trenches, I am sure I would actually find good reasons to dislike him as a comedian, reasons why he is a horrible successor of The Daily Show.

    Hours after I finished the previous paragraph, I just realised I did have encountered a good critique regarding the appointment of Trevor Noah, in which he is compared with Bassem Youssef. Some people may call the comparison unfair. But, I have to acknowledge it has some validity to it.

    While Noah’s humour was already laced with cultural commentaries prior to TDS, I would not call him a political comedian; Bassem Youssef, on the other hand, started his entertainment career as one and he had to flee his homeland because of it. Unlike Noah, who was mostly a stand-up comedian, Youssef had made two political comedy shows when he was still in Egypt. While both have cited Jon Stewart as an influence, the latter would have a much easier time being his successor.

    Oh, and Youssef is also a foreigner. He would also be able to bring a much more global outlook to TDS.

    I do think Noah does a great job hosting. But, I also understand why some people think Youssef is a better choice.

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    American Democrats and moderate Indonesian Muslims: kindred in their love of not-moving-forward

    I can easily draw parallels between the western far-right and Muslim extremists and I have been doing so for years. But, it took me a long time to also notice the parallels between American Democrats and moderate Indonesian Muslims.

    As an Indonesian, I definitely choose the moderates over the Islamists. If I were an American, I would also definitely vote blue over red. But, that does not mean I am ideologically in tune with them. I am siding with them simply because they are the most progressive members of the establishment.

    But, they are certainly not the most progressive people in their respective countries.

    Frankly, I see them as nothing but reactionaries who are delusional enough to believe in their values’ mightiness in countering extremism, not realising it arises despite theirs are still entrenched in the mainstream psyche. Instead of allowing themselves to think critically, they are too busy patting themselves on the back that they don’t realise how their values are also problematic.

    In Indonesia, the still-powerful and Sunni-based local version of moderate Islam does not allow the country to give room for the sacrilege; basically, non-Sunni branches of Islam, atheism, liberal interpretations of Islam and scepticism regarding the necessity of religions are big no-nos.

    It also motivates people to support governmental interferences of religious affairs, making the government the only entity that can ‘validate’ and ‘invalidate’ religions; as a result, Indonesia is and has always been a religiously discriminatory country where we only officially recognise six religions, none of which are indigenous, and every citizen is obligated to choose one in our official identification.

    This version of Islam is also socially conservative. While Indonesian women are very empowered for the Muslim world standard, moderate Muslims still don’t believe in complete gender equality. It also fails to discourage racism among its adherents; that’s why our Malaysian cousins have better race relations. Oh, and it also cultivates cis-heteronormativity, successfully instilling and retaining homophobia and transphobia in our collective psyche.

    From my perspective as a citizen of one of the most diverse countries in the world, American Democrats’ embrace of diversity is still plagued with insincerity; more of than not, their inclusiveness has been nothing but feelgood, piegon-holing tokenism. They emit the illusion of complete acceptance.

    Don’t forget that, contrary to popular belief, most Dems are actually neo-liberals, just like the Republicans are; the self-proclaimed socialists (even though they are more accurately described as social democrats) are a minority among party members. Obama ruled for two terms and the Dems won the 2018 midterm election in sixteen US states and territories. If they are really socialists, shouldn’t the US become more hostile against corporatism by now?

    Do I think moderate Indonesian Islam gives birth to Islamic extremism? No, I don’t. Do I think American liberalism triggers the existence of far-right extremism? The answer is also no. If you want people to blame, blame it on those ultra-orthodox Muslims and Republicans for constantly making excuses for the extremists. I have to acknowledge that moderate Indonesian Muslims and American liberals still have a shred of human decency in them.

    But, we should also acknowledge that both beliefs do have things in common with the zealotry they are enemies with. Inevitably, their dominance won’t stop the harmful values to seep in to the mainstream psyche.

    It also does not make sense to fight a toxic ideology with another ideology that also share some of its toxicity. That’s like believing eating deep fried vegetables instead of fried chicken and potatoes will greatly improve one’s health. More nutrients, but one’s arteries will still get clogged anyway.

    If we want to fight Islamic extremism and the far-right, we should never put moderate Muslims and American liberals on the front lines. What we need is individuals who are not only willing to fight, but also willing to ditch the emotionally-comforting status quos which clearly set us back from moving forward.

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    Casualties of feel-goodism

    I have my share of experiences dealing with creatures whose only objectives in life is to feel good and feel good only. You know, the ones who refuse to have a grip on reality, the victims of ‘positivity’. Now, I am going to waste my days by writing shits about them!

    Victim number one

    January 6, 2017. Pewdiepie, AKA the Swedish kazoo kid, uploaded a video that tackles the infestation of ‘forced positivity’ on Youtube. He admitted how he manufactured ‘happiness’ for image sake and he regretted such sinfulness. He also expressed frustration with how his fellow Youtubers exploit ‘happiness’ as a part of their brands.

    He claimed ‘forced positivity’ made him feel worse as it did not allow him to comprehend his negative emotions; he stated the only way to solve a problem is to deal with it, NOT to run away from it!

    (Side note: ‘forced positivity’ is a redundant term as I believe ‘positivity’ itself is an entity born out of force. But, I will retain the redundancy for this segment as it is the exact term Pewds used.)

    The reception was universally positive. For some time, he provided the community a thought-provoking topic of discussion. Judging from the positive comments in the comment section, it seems this video is a reason why Pewds turned into a much more respectable content creator.

    Then, there is that one commenter.

    Despite my insistence how ‘forced positivity’ sounds conspicuously dishonest, he/she was firm with his/her belief that it is beneficial to our psyche! Then, she/he gave me multiple links which he/she claimed supported his/her argument. I clicked them and they lead me to actual academic papers!

    At that moment, I was ready to be proven wrong! I was ready to have my firm, strongly-ground belief to get debunked by peer-reviewed researches! It also didn’t help Pewds only cited one article which itself was just an interview piece! I read the papers carefully….

    … And quickly realised how fucking dumb I was for letting him/her tricked me! From all the papers he/she showed to me, none of them mentioned ‘forced positivity’!

    The research regarding how optimism can benefit patients’ health said nothing about ‘forced positivity’! It said nothing about hospitals forcing their patients to be ‘happy’! In fact, it is very obvious how they already had a jolly disposition prior their sickness!

    The research regarding helping students with their emotional problems also did not mention ‘forced positivity’! In fact, its proposed solution was to help them confront their negative emotions and understand why they experienced them in the first place! That’s literally what I said! That’s literally what Pewds fucking said!

    This commenter was either a delusional doormat or an arrogant shrimp brain who thought he/she could make me tremble in fear by simply sharing academic papers, too arrogant to realise some of us are willing to read them thoroughly!

    Of course, realising his/her bullshit was exposed, he/she retaliated brutally… by simply accusing me of being in denial and that was it. He/she said words no more and deleted the entire thread!

    I am confident to say I won the debate. Not only I had proven how my opponent’s evidences did not back him/her up, I also showed how they gave him/her the finger and backed my argument and Felix’s instead!

    In my life, I never expected I would humiliate someone like that.

    Victim number two

    Now, moving on from an honest content creator to the dishonest ones.

    I would not single Prince Ea out as the only internet personality who love to exude feelgoodism. But, he is undoubtedly one of the biggest sinners.

    Besides making his fans feel good about themselves for simply listening to his sugary, meaningless words, he also loves being a hypocrite who preaches about not having fragile ego and then proceed to get butthurt when fellow content creators called him out and spewing harm by telling depressed people all they have to do to force happiness onto themselves! Yes, he is one of those arseholes!

    And yes, I have interacted with a fan of his. But, the interaction was too short and insignificant; so, I am not going to focus on him/her. Instead, I am going to focus on an apologist of Instagram travelers.

    I never paid attention closely to any of them until Cody Ko made a video in which he criticised them for deceiving the public regarding the true nature of travelling… and life in general. He was put off by the mawkishness and the deceitfully ‘beautiful’ imagery. While they are clearly not Prince Ea, they sure are in the same league as he is!

    Then, there came a commenter I would name as Mr. Apologist from now on.

    He condemned Cody for being a cynical hater who unfairly accused all travelers of deceit and who just wanted to squeeze the happiness out of everyone by dismissing the ‘soul-stirring’ messages. He accused Cody of hypocrisy because Cody himself is a regular traveller who uploads travelling content to his own Insta account. He thought demanding those content creators to reveal their sources of income is unreasonably invasive. Heck, he even thought Cody was mean-spirited for mocking others who were different from him!

    Now, I will disjointedly dissect his statements.

    I believe it is unethical of public figures to not disclose their finances. I actually used the word ‘transparency’… which admittedly sounds lame; unless your opponents are as pretentious as you, citing big words will never get you anywhere in a debate. But, thankfully, another commenter made a more sharp-witted argument.

    He/she asserted how mentally-exploitable fans will be swayed to do anything to fund their trips, even if they have to sell their cars and houses, not knowing anything how their idols make a living for themselves! For some us, it is too plain obvious (I hate myself for not making that argument)!

    But then, your beloved idols are always right; if they tell you travelling is the only way to enjoy life, you better fucking believe them! This problem is exacerbated by the syrupy messages, which a lot of us still fall for.

    ‘Chase your dream!’. ‘Live your life!’. I don’t know what wisdom people like Mr. Apologist saw in those inherently-meaningless words.

    Everyone has a dream! But, like it or not, real life is a bitch and most of our dreams will never come true! Like it or not, doing routines is also living the life; routines can help us to reach destination success… or, at least, avert us from reaching destination failure!

    It seems my mere mentioning of the word ‘routines’ triggered him badly. He started to claim Cody’s refusal to not talk about the downsides of routines was a sign of bias. I mean, seriously?

    Considering how modern humans constantly complain about how life-sucking routines are, that would be idiotically redundant! In fact, the banality of routines is the reason why people like Insta celebs are famous in the first place; their lives are presented as anti-routines! Mr. Apologist might as well demand people to talk about how salty salt is! Oh, and he also accuses me of bias.

    What kind of bias do I have? He never answered, despite my persistent questioning. He believed my so-called bias prevents me from seeing how horrible Cody Ko really was, how he was the person he condemned, how he was the real bad guy here!

    Well, let me see…

    While Cody is indeed a frequent traveller, he never uploads any deceptively beautiful photos and videos, he never insinuates travelling as the only way to appreciate life, he never preys on the emotional fragility of his fans, he is transparent about his source of income, he never spews meaningless ‘inspirational’ words and he certainly never scams his fans like Crea Tyler did! Oh, and about his bullying of others…

    There is a difference between bullying and poking fun of others. It is evident by how some of his so-called ‘bullying victims’, including Jay Alvarez himself – one of those Insta travelers – , reacted positively to his videos! Every time Cody makes fun of someone, he always does it humorously and he always has good reasons to do so!

    I am all for being one’s self as I have been personally benefited by it. But, at the same time, Cody’s so-called ‘victims’ produce cringeworthy content; they are either different just for the sake of it or they make sincerely harmful contents which any impressionable human beings should never watch!

    People who belong to the first two categories cannot expect others to not laugh at them. The ones who belong to the third should be harshly condemned for their toxicity! So, not only Cody is not a bad guy, he is actually one of the good guys the world needs!

    Mr. Apologist also knew Jay Alvarez responded positively to the mockery. But then, he proceeded to baselessly speculate that Cody would make a second video about his target and continue the non-existing drama. I said ‘baselessly speculate’ because the speculation was indeed baseless!

    In the Tiny Meat Gang podcast, he mentioned Jay’s positive reaction… and that was it. He never made a second video about him; there was no drama between the two! But, Cody did make two more videos about Crea Tyler. Why? Because, unlike Jay, Tyler literally scams his own fans!

    To make my conversations with Mr. Apologist even weirder, he also claimed to be a regular traveller as well. The fact that he was one is odd. Even travelling with the help of travel agencies still has many downsides, let alone one where we have to do everything by ourselves! It is either he lied about being one or he was just a fanatic member of the cult of ‘positivity’.

    His devotion to ‘positivity’ not only encourages him to be delusional about the activity he supposedly had immersed himself in, but also to slander every single person who dares to snap him back to reality!

    I initially wanted to suggest you to watch Cody Ko’s videos and see for yourself. But, if you already possess a mentality similar to Mr. Apologist’s, you would instantly side with him and condemn Cody and any other well-meaning commentators for being hateful individuals.

    Casualties number mycountryreligionperfectifyoudontlikeitleavediehurrdurr

    Unlike the previous casualties, these ones are a lot easier to identify. All you have to do is to point out the deep-rooted flaws of their respective – and beloved – groups. The sight of foam forming on their mouths is 100% guaranteed!

    Defensiveness is the most common reaction. They always feel personally abused by any condemnations targeted specifically at the extremists! They will try to downplay the threat, accuse the ones who fear extremism of being alarmists and proceed to accuse the ‘others’ AKA marginalised groups as the dangerous ones! And their delusion does not stop there!

    They also love attacking the mainstream media for spreading lacking journalistic integrity. I do agree media outlets constantly spread fake or sensationalised stories and hire personalities who constantly blur the lines between journalism and commentaries. But, we know damn well those are not the reasons why they hate the media!

    They hate how the media constantly report stories of real widespread violence committed by their fellow ideologues, instead of focusing more time on exposing numerically-less significant violence committed by the ‘others’!* They hate how the media refuses to affirm their delusional worldviews!

    They are so fucking delusional, they think the only fundamental goal of media outlets is to be their personal propagandists, to make them feel good about themselves and world they live in!

    (*Side note: All acts of violence are bad, no matter how widespread or isolated they are! But, if one wishes to determine which pose the biggest threat and which are signs of deep-rooted societal problems, one must choose the ones that occur on an almost regular basis!)

    From my personal experiences, those piles of pig dung often include nationalists, believers and even religious nationalists. Because of their abundance, I constantly encounter them both online and offline. But, I won’t discuss individual confrontations in details; I am already on page four and I am itching to finish this essay soon!

    Oh, and some of you, my non-existent readers, may wonder why I consider those people as ‘positivity enthusiasts’ instead of fanatics. On the surface, claiming it is all about feelgoodism does sound too far-fetched. But, dig deeper and it would make more sense.

    When one (accurately) labels someone as a fanatic, it means he/she has an absolutely unquestioning love for certain things by believing in their non-existing perfection and by always feeling good about them!

    If one dares to point out the glaring imperfection, he/she would be infuriated by one’s refusal to let him/her feel good about the things he/she loves! He/she believes depriving him/her of ‘good feelings‘ is one of the greatest sins ever committed by mankind! Literally worse than any murders!

    I don’t believe positivity is the root of fanaticism, which surely is a tangle of abstract intricacies. But, I believe it is a symptom everyone must be alert of.

    How I deal with feelgoodism

    Admittedly, I was also a victim of it and I always thrived to feel good about everything. Then, surprisingly, I grew up! I still don’t know how I escaped the fool’s paradise. But now, I have set up some preventive measures.

    If certain messages bring me a mystifying surge of high spirits, I should never let my guard down; they may contain beliefs which equate happiness with delusions. But, at the same time, I should refrain myself from cynicism (easier said than done); the wholesomeness may also be genuine.

    If the messages not only make me excessively feel good about myself, but also compel me to look down on others whom I impulsively perceive as ‘unenlightened’, red fucking alert!

    I should avoid those messages at all cost and I should be wary of individuals who vomit and cuddle them! I sound like I am overreacting. But, I am sure you agree sitting high and mighty among the clouds is a vice anyone should never fall for.

    Oh, and instead of ‘positivity’, I prefer to use these alternatives: hope and contentment. The former believes the storms will surely pass. The latter believes we can enjoy life despite the storms. Both believe happiness does not mean disregarding the dark clouds lingering above us.

    While far from perfect, the methods I use have brought me a greater sense of self-awareness. They compel me to acknowledge how much of a delusional, self-righteous dickhead my younger self was.

    Even though I still tumble to the realm of chimeras and piety from time to time, I become better at fleeing it thanks to those methods.

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    My thoughts about Geography Now

    As I am an Indonesian, it is not a surprise the first video I watch from this geography education channel is the one that encapsulates my home country; it was suggested to me probably because I searched for videos of foreigners trying Indonesian food. But, thanks to that one video, I ended up on a Geo Now binge and I almost watched every video on the channel in less than 48 hours.

    As you can immediately tell, I am deeply impressed by the channel!

    Okay, admittedly, there is one potential flaw: I have mixed feelings about how it depicts conflicts. Paul and his friends will take the roles of individual countries or sectarian groups and they will start ‘bickering’… which look very childish and comical.

    Of course, it can be problematic as it seems to belittle the actual resulting deaths of said conflicts. But, at the same time, the petulant depiction is also fitting considering how clashes often occur simply because of ridiculous reasons, like our inability to deal with inconsenquential human distinction. I know I am reading too much into this as I am sure Paul also cares about the entertainment values. But then, I believe authorial intentionalism can be dismissed when a work has unintended effects on the audience.

    Some viewers are starting to feel the channel has become more cringeworthy to watch due to its jokes. I am not on board with this criticism because I think the older videos are even more so with their poorly-delivered jokes. Nowadays, not only the performances have greatly improved, the humour has also become more self-aware; it depicts Paul as a shamelessly ‘punny’ person and, to a lesser extent, a big fat know-it-all.

    I am also not on board with the criticism regarding the involvement of his friends; they believe having another on-screen personalities really ruin the channel. For me, their presence increases the dynamism. Besides, literally since the first episode, Paul has been receiving help in the post-production process! While the channel is indeed his brainchild, we must also acknowledge its collaborative nature. It is literally called Geography Now, NOT The Paul Barbato Show!

    Mispronunciation is also a recurring theme/joke in the channel; in some cases, he never bothers to even try pronouncing foreign words and opts to speak gibberish or call certain individuals as ‘this guy’ or ‘this *insert occupation here*’. While some may perceive it as disrespectful, I perceive it as refreshing honesty. He acknowledges his linguistic limitation and, whether we want to admit it or not, most of us are too lazy to pronounce foreign phonology accurately! As someone who calls himself The Stammering Dunce, I cannot fault Paul for this.

    Also, when he knows how to pronounce certain foreign phonology, especially one from the languages he has limited proficiency in, he will try his best; some people still deliberately mispronounce foreign words and names despite knowing how to do so properly… probably because they are hypocritical pricks who can’t care less about embracing other cultures and yet they get mad when foreigners mispronounce their names and languages repeatedly.

    Unsurprisingly, just like any media outlets in existence, the channel cannot escape the criticism regarding informational inaccuracy and omission. But, even then, Paul does not seem to receive a barrage of hate in the comment sections… and for good reasons.

    When he omits certain information and/or gives the wrong one, it is because of honest mistakes. He tries his best to produce relatively short yet very concise videos to the point where he literally forgets to include common knowledge; even his China episode fails to mention the Great Wall! There are no indications of him having any political agendas. He fulfills his promise to be as objective as possible; his Rohingya crisis video is a great evidence of this. Oh, and he uses Flag/fan Friday and Filler Week videos as corrective and supplementary components. He is cognizant of his own oversights.

    And that’s not his only ‘secret’ for success.

    Another important factor is his love of travelling. You know, the real act of travelling! Instead of being content about ‘experiencing’ the foreign lands by falling for the plastic charms of tourist traps, he prefers to taste how the locals live! That, I assume, encourages him to drop his own preconceived notions when researching for new episodes.

    He also has a diversity of sources. Besides the scholastic ones, he also takes input from his viewers whose home countries will be covered soon… and I really love this approach!

    Whether we like it or not, even with academic rigorousness, those scholastic references can still be prone to informational deficiency and cultural propensity. While the words of his viewers are purely anecdotal, they can provide vantage points that are raw and unobstructed by any methodical filtration. Of course, thankfully, he also strictly distinguishes which info is academic and which isn’t; when he cites anecdotes, he will explicitly present them as such! I believe this route leads him to destination success!

    The materials are relatively meticulous and compact while maintaining some level of relatability to the average people who lack any ‘scholarly’ disposition. It is scholastic enough that some teachers actually play his videos in their classes, scholastic enough to convey the defects of the enquired countries… while still ‘populist’ enough to please some flag-wavers and over-zealous foreign cultures enthusiasts.

    Of course, as an Indonesian, I have to talk about the Indonesia episodes.

    One criticism I have is how he described Indonesia as a marriage of the Middle East and Southeast Asia that results in many babies. While it is not inaccurate, it is far from complete.

    Islam -the biggest religion in the country- is indeed from the Middle East, some regional cultures do have Arab influences and our national language does have Arab loanwords. But, some of those regional cultures also have South Asian, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese influences, our national language also has Sanskrit, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese loanwords, many government institutions use Sanskrit mottos and the Indonesia is a former Dutch, Portuguese and, to a lesser extent, British colony. But, because of our mostly Austronesian roots, we are still more similar to predominantly-Christian Filipinos than we are to the predominantly-Muslim Middle Easterners.

    Paul mentions how most Indonesian mosques do not have the typical domes. In reality, most of them actually do. The ones who don’t were mostly constructed before the 21st century, designed with traditionally-influenced architectural styles. Back then, most Indonesian Muslims were less likely to equate Islamic identity with the Middle-Eastern one.

    Paul also does mispronounce Indonesian pronounciation. But then, as I said before, learning foreign languages is difficult… and the majority of Indonesians, even ones who are not raised with ‘regional’ cultures, have a poor comprehension of our national language. So, him pronouncing ‘C’ as ‘K’ instead of ‘CH’ should not be a biggie.

    And those are the only flaws I can think of in his Indonesia videos. I believe he does a great job in unveiling the intricate foundations of my motherland.

    He showcases how the country is so diverse that the biggest and second biggest ethnic groups comprise about forty percent and fifteen percent of the country’s population -respectively-, that anti-Chinese sentiment exists here (albeit he said it briefly), how Islam is practiced differently in Indonesia from the one in the Arab world -especially regarding the rituals-, how Indonesian Papuans are extremely distinct in many ways from the rest of their fellow countrymen, how the government only recognises six religions and how our national symbol is of Hindu origin despite being a predominantly-Muslim nation! Oh, and I think his description of Aceh as the black sheep is very fitting!

    When it comes to international relations, he showcases how our relationship with Saudi Arabia is very horrible, how we and Malaysia are frenemies (due to our cultural similarities and differences) and how we have a surprisingly good relationship with Japan (despite the history)!

    And those short descriptions alone easily defy how most of us perceive Indonesia!

    On one hand, it is certainly not a peaceful and tolerant haven many people love to advertise. Indonesians are still very racist, especially against every person of Chinese descent. We are still religiously schismatic to the point we disenfranchise adherents of indigenous beliefs by not officially recognising them as legitimate religious groups!

    But, on the other hand, Indonesia is certainly not a carbon copy of Saudi Arabia and many Indonesians detest the idea of becoming Saudis! Aceh, one of the thirty-four Indonesian provinces, certainly does not represent the entire country! The citizens, especially the Muslim ones, are extremely diverse and any generalisations about them (which I admittedly still make from time to time) can be easily and deservedly labeled as shallow or even outright dehumanising!*

    (*Yes, I know one cannot generalise even the most homogenous collective in existence. But, I do believe generalising a very diverse society is considerably more intellectually dishonest than generalising one that is significantly less so.)

    I should also commend him for his dissections of the bicolour flag and the coat of arms. While the Hotel Yamato story has become a legend here, I did not know red and white represent the duality of nature in Austronesian mythology, ancient Indonesian Hindus also used red-white flags and teaks leaves and mangosteen rind were used as red textile dye!

    I also didn’t know the number of feathers in our version of Garuda represents the date of Indonesia’s independence day! He is one of the handful of foreigners that have educated me things I genuinely didn’t know about my own homeland!

    Overall, I believe Paul Barbato is a successful educational Youtuber. He has a firm grasp on the (often-needlessly) complicated domestic and international borders, he has a firm grasp on the (often-preventable) sectarian conflicts, he can be more knowledgeable about the enquired countries than their citizens do…

    And, most importantly, he unveils how each of the world’s sovereignty constantly defies our racial, cultural, political and religious preconceived notions of them.

    In spite of his rapid-fire and comedic performances, he still manages to demonstrate how humanity is not what most of us think it is… and judging from his videos’ comment sections, there are others who agree with me.

    My suggestion for him is to expand his scholastic references; maybe add peer-reviewed academic papers into the mix! Knowing the nature of academic journal, it can be more burdensome for the production. But, I am also confident it can also bring an even greater depth to the content!

    Postscript:

    There was a criticism of his Eritrea episode in which he supposedly ignores the country’s human rights violation. The thing is… he never does!

    In his summary of individual countries’ history, he often mentions their authoritarian leaders and historical violent events. Again, as I said before, the unintentional omission of information regularly happens as he tries to create relatively-short yet concise videos!

    Maybe the critics hated how Paul did not spend the entire episode talking about the country’s human rights violation. Why should he? His channel is called Geography Now, NOT Human Rights Now!! His job is literally to teach geography, to summarise individual territories of the world, not to be a white saviour!

    Besides, he will not talk about human rights violations in great details unless he comprehends the intricacy of each individual case; again, I have to mention his Rohingya crisis video! He is not one of those pseudo-activists who think human rights can be discussed simplistically!

    I was planning to put this section much earlier. But, I called it off because I take this a bit too personally. The first time I watched the video, there was literally only one comment that criticised Paul for supposedly ignoring Eritrea’s dark reality (albeit with many likes). When I watched it again, the comment was gone. And still, that comment bothers me to this day!

    I don’t know why. But, I am annoyed every time someone says the only appropriate way to chronicle certain countries is to babble about their human rights issues! Maybe it has something to do with their insistence to demonise the places they hate and yet know little or nothing about!

    I wonder if Paul is annoyed by this as well. In the first Iraq episode, his friend Keith portrays a character who is agitated that Paul does not go straight to babbling about terrorism. Even though I cannot be sure about his motivation to incorporate the character, I am glad he did. It feels like a not-so-subtle middle finger to those white saviours.

    Once again, there are times when one can dismiss authorial intentionalism.

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    Once beautiful, now hideous words

    Sceptic

    I was in love with the word. I hated how accepting proclamations uncritically is considered acceptable or even obligatory by much of humanity. I hated how ‘he said, she said’ is our number one method of information gathering. I still do.

    Even though I identified myself as a person of faith (still do), its association with fervent atheists did not deter me. As I got older, due to my scepticism, I became even less hostile towards atheism, accepting the possibility of my belief being the wrong one. Unlike my younger self, I make actual efforts to be more critical-minded.

    An actual sceptic won’t instantly take sides in cases of rape allegations and won’t take the words of government officials and so-called experts for granted. He/she won’t until he/she has enough solid evidences and/or he/she has diagnosed the logic of the situations (or the lack of it). Of course, that’s not the case with many self-proclaimed sceptics nowadays.

    They believe the existence of false allegations proves that every accuser is a liar and all of the accused ones are innocent! They believe every single statement made by governments are lies and choose to believe conspiracy-peddling public entities! They believe every scientist that debunks popular opinions is paid by greedy corporations, unlike the so-called ‘honest’ pseudoscientists!

    You are not embracing the presumption of innocence, you are just a rape culture apologist who either sees nothing wrong with rape or believes rape is a myth!

    You are not someone who refuses to bow down to the political establishment, either you are just paranoid (which means you need professional help, I am serious) or you arrogantly fancy yourself as the beholder of truths!

    You are not analytical of experts’ words, either you are just scientifically illiterate and do not know what science actually is or you know what science is, but you hate how it destroys your unfounded world views!

    Even though many of those individuals do not label themselves as ‘sceptics’, they love to blurt out words like ‘logic’, ‘facts’ and ‘reason’ over and over again, as if doing so instantly make them ‘sceptical’. The fact that far-right ideologues have a dominant presence among them really turn me off from the word.

    I am not disgusted by the words ‘logic’, ‘facts’ and ‘reason’. Yet. But, I have become repulsed by the S-word to the point where I am wary of every person who try to represent themselves as ones.

    Freedom

    What I am going to say will be quite baffling: the older I get, the more I appreciate the idea of freedom while simultaneously the more I hate the word that represents it!

    I love freedom because it is the reason why I am allowed to be myself. Online, I have the freedom to be outspoken about my opinions, many of which are deeply unpopular and may get me into legal problems in some countries. Offline, despite Indonesian society being repressive at times, I still have the freedom to express my discontent regarding the status quo. This is why my appreciation of the concept grows along with my age.

    But, at the same time, I have also become more and more exposed to the raw, unromanticised depiction of the western ‘civilisation’ and I am frustrated by how deeply misguided many of its citizens are in their approach to freedom.

    I hate how they believe in the absoluteness of freedom in which they can do anything they want without experiencing deserving consequences. Even the most level-headed constructive criticisms are too repressive for those privileged snowflakes who have never experienced a single day living under an actual authoritarian regime. In fact, I don’t think every single one of them believe in absolute freedom. They may claim they do. But, their actions say otherwise.

    They accuse marginalised groups of being oppressive as their demand of humanisation rob bigots of their freedom to be bigoted. If that’s how you genuinely perceive life, you are just a bigot who exploits something you never believe in the first place.

    If you are sincerely not bigoted, but you still take sides with bigots instead of their victims, you probably think freedom was fought for by unhinged individuals who wanted humans to be more arseholes towards each other. Basically, you are an edgelord who know nothing about the thing you supposedly believe in.

    Besides empowering individuals who are afflicted with hatred, this mental retardation may have an effect outside the west. While I cannot speak for other countries, I can speak for Indonesia specifically.

    Many Indonesians dream of the old days when free speech was a luxury. Why? Because we are tired of Islamists who constantly regurgitate infectious diarrhea out of their dirty mouths! We literally believe taking away freedom is the only cure!

    Just imagine if those dictatorship-apologist Indonesians hear about westerners making a martyr out of Alex Jones (whose punishment I believe was not harsh enough). They would have a wrong idea of what freedom actually is: an entity in which unsavoury beings are perceived as the upsides, NOT the downsides.

    That’s like promoting a pharmaceutical drug by citing cancer as its benefit, NOT as its side effect!

    Tolerance

    This used to be one of my favourite words ever! As an individual of a multicultural upbringing, who grew up in two very multicultural cities, who still have many foreign Facebook friends, who fortunately does not end up as an Indonesian Islamist, I love what the word ‘tolerance’ represents! Well, supposedly represent. Now, I hate it, possibly more than the two previous words.

    As an Indonesian who is heavily exposed to the things going on in the US and, to a lesser extent, the UK and Australia, I constantly read and watch about individuals who preach about tolerance. Naive, younger me was easily dazzled by such positivity. Then, I experienced something called ‘growing up’.

    Yes, I have encountered bigots, both Indonesians and westerners, who assert how their bigotry should also be tolerated. But, surprisingly, they are not the reason why I end up hating the word. I blame it on the so-called anti-bigotry warriors.

    From my perspective as an Indonesian, the support for diversity in the west seems deceitful. Tokenism, feel-goodism and exoticisation are rampant in its practice of multiculturalism. So, every time I hear a westerner says he/she embraces tolerance, I am often suspicious he/she means he/she merely tolerates the existence of the ‘others’, whom he/she still refuses to perceive as fellow human beings.

    Either that or he/she tolerates their existence simply because he/she likes their foods… or he/she wants to have sex with them. Just because you love Chinese foods or you fuck people with darker skins, that does not mean you are not a racist.

    In Indonesia, the support for diversity seems far more sincere. Unlike westerners, our history allows us to embrace multiculturalism more organically. Our inter-ethnic relations are very good. Even though we may openly dislike the other cultures, ethnic differences barely define whom we befriend and marry.

    Yes, we do have cases of extremely violent ethnic tensions. But, if you take a close look, they occur among rural citizens who had very homogenous upbringing and suffered cultural shock when they had to interact with the ‘others’. For cosmopolitan urban dwellers, this is almost never an issue. But, this is the extent of Indonesians’ so-called tolerance.

    Whether contemporary or historical, the state of religions in Indonesia is not as good as advertised. While we are indeed different from Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, we are still far from a multi-religious haven. Of course, we can go straight to talk about the rise of Islamism. But, I believe also lies in the establishment.

    Indonesian government only recognises six religions; compulsory ID cards have religious columns in which we must fill with one of the officially-recognised ones. To make it even more infuriating, indigenous beliefs aren’t included! Oh, and while I praise moderate Muslims for their opposition of violence, they still can be quite hostile to relatively more liberal and more reasonable interpretations of Islamic teachings and the lack of religiosity in general. How can you say we have religious tolerance when we embrace a caste of religious beliefs and try to silence reasonable dissenting voices?

    Oh, and I should also mention the racism!

    Many of us are still staunchly anti-Chinese. We are still suckers to the fear-mongering (not unlike how reactionary white Americans view Hispanic immigrants) and conspiracies (not unlike how anti-Semites view the Jews). We also love to neglect the Indonesian Papuans to the point where their region is arguably the most underdeveloped in the country while simultaneously suffering from very high living cost; we only care about the ‘exotic’ Papuan cultures and the Papuan gold mines.

    Okay, I admit that my claim about anti-Papuans racism seems baseless as it is not a public discourse (I think). But, I base it on three observable facts about the Indonesian life: 1. Papuans are culturally and biologically distinct from Austronesians who form the majority of Indonesians; 2. Our beauty standards only include light skin colours, Austronesian and/or Eurasian facial features; 3. Jokes about dark skin colours are too rampant to the point where being born with them is seen as a personal defect. Those evidences are indeed circumstantial. But, can you blame me for having such thought?

    Oh, and of course, don’t forget the classic homophobia. Even back when we were a so-called moderate Muslim nation, LGBT rights were not a thing. In fact, we have become more and more homophobic as years pass by.

    Of course, despite everything, we still have the gall to get outraged by Chinese-Indonesians’ (allegedly) lack of nationalistic pride, to get outraged by the Papuan separatist movement, to get hostile every time someone refuses to romanticise the Indonesian life!

    We still have the gall to call ourselves a bastion of tolerance! You cannot call yourself tolerant when your tolerance is selective!

    Yes, there are some things we should never tolerate (e.g. Wahhabism). But, Indonesians also harbour intolerance towards anyone that are trivially different from them, like the aforementioned Chinese-Indonesians and Papuans, social and cultural liberals, sexual minorities, socialists, Jews, atheists and adherents of indigenous or new religious beliefs.

    Yes, their differences are trivial. Their existence can be hurtful, but only to retards whose undeservingly high social status is being challenged.

    So, every time I hear an Indonesian says he/she embraces tolerance, it is most likely he/she is a bootlicker who is only tolerant of anything approved by their beloved establishment.

    For some of you, it seems I am being misguided by attacking individuals who fight prejudice. No, I am not attacking them. I am actually attacking people who claim to fight prejudice when their words and actions clearly reveal the complete opposite.

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