Why it is bad that comedians use Trump as their punching bag

That’s a clickbait title. No, there is nothing bad about it!

To entertain is what entertainers do. There is no obligation for them to be neutral and objective. If they are entertaining, they have fulfilled their duty. They are not journalists, for fuck’s sake!

There is also nothing obsessive about focusing on Trump. Unless you are a dumbfuck, you know he was the president of the United States. For four years, he was the most powerful person in the country and the whole goddamn world!

Telling us to stop caring about him is basically telling us to stop caring about reality.

If you want to criticise comedians, why don’t you condemn those who punch down? You know, those who belittle the plights of marginalised people?

Why is it that political content -which often targets the powerful- angers you more than bigotry does? Well, I have two assumptions: It is either you are a bigot yourself or you are an emotionally-stunted sentient rectum who cannot enjoy anything that isn’t offensive.

Don’t act like you are neither. If you aren’t, you would not be offended by jokes that punch up. Don’t act like you care about quality either. If you do, you would have focused on the humor; the topics should be irrelevant for you.

Oh, and let’s not pretend the intertwining of politics and entertainment is a new phenomenon. Artists and entertainers have been making political statements since forever, long before Trump ran for president. Even the Ancient Greeks made satires.

If you notice, some of the political comedians on US TV are The Daily Show veterans. Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, John Oliver and Hasan Minhaj have been making political jokes long before it was cool.

With Oliver, Colbert and Jon Stewart specifically, they started making fun of Trump long before the deformed gourd ran for president. Oliver called him a selfish asshole (I am paraphrasing), Colbert told him to suck his balls and Stewart nicknamed him Fuckface von Clownstick.

They did not join the bandwagons. They created them.

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Being treasonous

I recently stumbled upon Atun-Shei films, a Youtuber who makes educational videos about history (and, to a lesser extent, films). So far, I am impressed by his nuanced yet non-fence-sitting approach to history.

And he said something interesting in one QnA video.

To sum his words, he refuses to label the Confederates as traitors due to the possibly unsavoury implications. If they are traitors, that means the Haitian rebels and America’s founding fathers are also ones; from my Indonesian perspective, my country’s founding fathers should also be referred to as such.

Technically, any attempts to overthrow the state is treasonous. But, due to the negative undertone, labelling every rebel as a traitor may potentially comes across as siding with oppressors.

I am disappointed with myself. Considering how I love bashing the status quo, I should have thoughts about it sooner.

Obviously, morality can be very grey. You can condemn the means which “traitors” try to achieve their goals and, if the overthrowing is a success, you can certainly condemn the new establishment for being just as morally corrupt, if not more.

But, it would dishonest to dismiss every single one of their grievances.

Obviously, unless you are insane, many of you agree that the Capitol rioters were terrorists. But, I am certain not all of you agree about labelling the Hong Kong rioters the same way. I am sure you would call me a Muslim terrorist for condemning any attempts to overthrow the current Iranian regime.

Just think twice before you condemn rebels. Mind you, as a payback against foreigners -Americans in particular- who lionise Hong Kong rioters, the Chinese government perceives the Capitol riot as a karma and suggests US lawmakers should use this incident to self-reflect.

If you ask about the Hong Kong riots, I would say I am on the side of the pro-democracy camp. But, in this regard, I cannot help but agreeing with Beijing.

There is nothing wrong about taking sides. If anything, in some cases, it is moral to do so. But, there is no excuses to throw nuances out of the window; trust me, you won’t like it when your words bite your asses later on.

This reminds me of an essay I wrote during last year’s BLM riots. I argued that riots were not always the language of the unheard.

Well, let’s just say I am glad that essay of mine ages well.

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No, illegal immigrants are not home invaders, you dumbfucks

I always wonder why some people are extremely offended by the idea of people trespassing the borders. From all the fucking things in the world, they choose to be offended by the disrespect of imaginary and arbitrary lines.

Obviously, bigotry has something to do with this. Considering how the immigration opposition tend to emerge when foreign countries with differing racial backgrounds are involved, calling them bigots is not far-fetched. But, I still find this unsatisfactory.

Then, one day, I noticed that some people compare illegal immigration to home invasion. That explains why people take it too seriously.

Of course, right off the bat, it is bullshit.

Comparing illegal immigrants to home invaders means you believe their mere presence always directly affect your personal lives. Unless they take over your country’s government and instil a totalitarian rule, I don’t see how the analogy makes sense.

I am more inclined to compare them to apartment squatters. It makes more senses because their presence do not always directly affect the lives of the legal occupants. But, even then, this still does not make any sense.

Why? Because there are illegal immigrants who pay taxes (sometimes, more than those rich xenophobes). While it seems to be an exclusively American case (as far as I am concerned), that one fact makes it harder for us to create a nuanced analogy for illegal immigrations.

I mean, squatters who pay the bills? Do they even exist?

Speaking about analogies, I think there are people who can be perfectly described as home invaders: European colonisers in Australia and the Americas*.

If they were not busy killing off the indigenous populations, they were busy subjugating totalitarian rules upon them; they loved brutally punishing anyone who still clung onto their heritages.

Unlike illegal immigrants -some of which tend to stick with their own kinds and leave others alone-, those colonisers would not feel joy until everyone only spoke their languages, embraced their customs and worshipped their Gods.

Unlike illegal immigrants, those colonisers were the home invaders.

Oh, and notice how the same westerners who love demonising illegal immigrants are also the same ones who love whitewashing colonial histories.

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*I have to be specific with the geography. While it is undeniable that many Asians and Africans suffered immensely under European colonial rules, the European colonisers seemed more eager to wipe indigenous Australian and Americans out, physically and/or culturally.

Yes, many African and Asian artefacts were (and still are) looted by European colonisers. But, at least, many Africans and Asians still speak their ancestral languages, eat their ancestral cuisines and perform their ancestral arts**. Many indigenous Australians and Americans don’t have that privilege.

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**Of course, that’s within the context of European colonialism. Unfortunately, Asians also colonise their fellow Asians. For example: the Ainus in Japan and the Taiwanese Aboriginals are losing their languages to the Japanese and Chinese languages, respectively.

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Is it bad to personally attack others?

For me, it depends.

Regarding Trump infected with COVID, many people -both his supporters and detractors- condemn anyone who celebrate his suffering. His detractors also claim that doing so means we are stooping to his level.

In one of the Facebook groups I am in, this conversation also extends to attacking Trump’s physique. Many members found it distasteful and it distracted us from an actually civil political discourse.

One may argue that personal attacks are bad, regardless of how deplorable the people we attack are. But, let’s be real here: it is dishonest to say personally attacking Trump makes us as bad as he is.

Claiming so insinuates that we attack politicians like Trump because we take pleasures in others’ sufferings… which is obviously a load of bullshit! We attack them because they are powerful individuals whose incompetence and lack of moral integrity have caused harm to the people they supposedly serve!

Attacking them is certainly different from attacking fellow non-politicians who are as powerless as us, even if not more.

The latter can potentially punch down, the former will always punch up. Attacking politicians punches down IF you hate them simply because they are religious, racial and/or ethnic minorities.

You can easily argue against the nastiness of the attacks without resorting to bothsideism.

I know why Trump supporters and the likes would resort this. Well, technically, they don’t commit bothsideism in this case because they don’t see anything wrong about their actions and their idols’. For them, only the ‘others’ can do bad things.

But, I don’t get why the likes of Trump detractors do this. Maybe they are moral absolutists who think bad is bad and good is good, with no greyness in between. Murder is murder, even if the ‘victim’ is an executed unredeemable criminal.

If that is the case, then I find their moral convictions a bit suspect. It is clear they are simpletons when it comes to discerning what is morally right and wrong.

It also makes me wonder if they hate Trump for the wrong reasons. If they hate someone simply because he/she is a harsh person and disregarding what he/she has to say or what his/her intentions are, then they are dangerously unable to see greyness.

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An actually great defence of monarchism

Well, not ‘great’. Just more convincing.

I have my share of documentaries about royal families. Unsurprisingly, most of them are about the British one; to a lesser extent, I also have watched ones about the Japanese and Swedish ones.

When I watched the documentaries about the Swedish one, I was surprised by the presentation. Instead of classical music or any music that represent Swedish heritage, they utilise pop music. Instead of framing the monarchs as untouchable members of the elite, they are framed as if they would blend really well among the commoners.

I asked a Scandinavian friend of mine and he confirmed Scandinavians prefer their monarchs ‘relatable’.

For a long time, I was confused: how did Sweden, Denmark and Norway manage to cling to both monarchism and Jante Law? Now, I know why.

It is the complete opposite with documentaries about British and Japanese royal families.

Besides the more abundant use of classical music soundtracks, they also lavishly display the wealth, the lineage and the celebrity status of the monarchs… and they are seen as good things! The documentaries insinuate the monarchs are worthy of our admiration because they are blue-blooded wealthy celebrities, because we are (supposedly) inherently underneath them!

Don’t get me wrong: I am still not a big fan of ‘relatable’ monarchs. Even if their relatability is genuine and unfiltered (I doubt it is), it still does not erase the fact that they get their arbitrarily-existing jobs because their ancestors who lived centuries ago were politically powerful. The borderline cultish veneration is still there.

But surely, if you argue monarchs are needed because they are symbols of their people, wouldn’t it make sense to depict them as ‘relatable’? If that’s the case, there is a higher chance I would be a monarchist myself. I don’t see how anyone can symbolically represent others if they are seen as inherently above them.

Well, I do see it. People who are comfortable with the existence of wealth and lineage-based strata would be just fine with feet of the powerful (the right kind, obviously) rested on their heads. For them, it makes perfect sense to feel presented by over-privileged and definitely not relatable individuals.

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No, the protesters are not ISIS for taking statues down, you illiterate dumbfucks

First thing first, ISIS destroy artefacts because they want the world to forget ancient history; they want to ensure they are the only ones who leave a legacy on mankind. On the other hand, the protesters want to tear the Confederate monuments down because they hate how the statues mislead the public with whitewashed histories.

Yes, some of them are fucktards who unwittingly tear down statues of abolitionists. But, regardless, their intention clearly distinguishes them from ISIS. The fact that an explanation is needed shows how some people lack the cognitive capability to properly join a contentious conversation; I am surprised they are smart enough to not stab their own wee-wees.

Second, ancient sites like the pyramids and the colosseum are not politically relevant to our contemporary world. Yes, they often symbolise human oppression. But, I have yet to hear about contemporary humans using ancient historical rulers to justify their problematic politics.

The confederate monuments, on the other hand, still leave a bitter legacy. They compel Americans to wear rose-coloured lenses when seeing contemporary race relations. They either think racism -especially the systematic one- is over* or past racism is not as bad as we think it was.

As a result, they believe their shit hole country is fine as it is and they see activists as SJWs or even traitors who want to destroy the country with something called moving fucking forward.

Okay, not the full story.

There are indeed cases where people use ancient history to justify their problematic politics. The alt-right love to use the crusades to justify their Christian nationalism and hatred of those violent Muslims, even though the the crusaders were also violent; some also love to use the Vikings to justify their white nationalism, even though the Vikings were more tolerant than the rest of Europe.

If I dig deeper, I am sure I would find similar cases.

But, that’s the thing: the fact that I need to dig deep shows how rare such phenomena are. They almost exclusively occur among fringe groups. Their politics is not mainstream. They are ‘special’ people.

Oh, and even if those ancient artefacts do inspire mainstream politics, I still don’t think they are comparable to the historically insignificant Confederate monuments. Not only many were constructed during the civil rights movement era, they are also meant to represent the ideals of the Confederacy, which existed in the 1860’s.

Yes, 1865 was a long time ago. But, in the grand scheme of things, 155 years is anything but a long time. 19th century history is modern history. Bygone, but not that bygone.

The secession is also a part of the history of the USA, a country that still exists to this day. If you tear down the monuments, it would still be relatively easy to find sites and documents that document the historical event (more accurately). We would still know a lot about it.

Not the case with ancient history.

Mind you, there are such thing as lost films and TV shows (and the BBC has lost many TV episodes). If we have already lost quite a lot of very recent history, it is safe to say we have already lost much of ancient history.

As we know little about it, destroying the sites means we will know even less… or worse, almost nothing. Their destruction will definitely be our loss.

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*Due to cognitive dissonance, they believe racism is over while simultaneously insisting the Democratic party is still the racist party.

‘The Democratic party is the racist party’…

… Is what dumbfuck reactionary Americans will say.

I am not going to talk about the southern strategy as I cannot cite evidences other than an excerpt of Lee Atwater’s interview  and the fact that GOP apologised in 2005 for committing it.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think the Democratic party is as inclusive as many think it is. While not all of them, many Dems -both the voters and voted ones- are pseudo-progressives who believe the upholding of the status quo is worth the broken promises and tokenism. Biden is basically a conservative and if Buttigieg is not a young, gay military veteran, he would not be as popular.

But, under a  two-party system, the absence of hateful rhetoric can be appealing to not only young, aspiring progressive politicians, but also members of marginalised communities.

In fact, not only there is a recent increase of actual young progressive Dems who make centrists nervous (yes, I am thinking of the squad), the data also shows Hispanics (of any race), blacks and Jews are more likely to vote blue than red.

Okay, I am one of those people who can feel wary about social statistics; poor samplings can result in extremely misleading results. But, I still have yet to find any counter-evidences, both quantitative and qualitative.

Oh, and there are documented cases of bigots voting for Republicans or running for office as ones. There are lots of Republican voters, Trump ones in particular, caught on camera racially abusing any non-whites and/or any non-English speakers they run into. Arthur J. Jones is not only white supremacist  member of the Republican party. David Duke is not the only white supremacist who openly support Trump. Supporters of the confederacy and whitewashers of slavery are mostly Republicans.

I refuse to say all Republicans are racist. But, I can definitely say the genuinely non-racist ones are so mindless with their rhetoric, they have inadvertently give the racists a comfortable home within the party.

What I am saying if you want discredit the Democratic party as the racist party, you have to expose what both parties are, not what they were in the fucking bygone era.

Studying the past is not the same as living in it.

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Japan: how it is stupidly idealised by western bigots

Let’s not sugar-coat it: if you unambiguously and proudly express your hatred of trivial human differences and even talk about the importance racial purity, making your view eerily similar to one of a Nazi, you cannot complain when others call you a bigot. You deserve the label.

Those bigots love to fawn over Japan for its cultural, ethnic and racial homogeneity and its strict immigration policies. They believe they are the secrets of Japan’s uniqueness and ‘social success’ (some people actually use the term).

Of course, if you just dig slightly deeper, what they believe is complete horse shit.

When they say ‘social success’, I am certain they are referring to the supposed lack of social problems in Japan, even though everyone with basic facts about the country knows it is not problem-free.

Karoshi and Hikikomori are two phenomena which Japan are internationally infamous for. The justice system also is known for being unjust, where presumption of innocence is not a thing.

Oh, and the calm and well-behaved stereotype is exaggerated, at least nowadays. PDR-San, a Japanese Youtuber whose viewers are mostly Japanese (but provide English subtitles for his videos), loves to rant about Japanese people who behave disruptively for the sake of internet clout; watch his videos and one’s romanticised views of Japan will be shattered.

One may argue anime, Japanese game shows and Japanese TV ads are uniquely Japanese. But, those game shows are no longer produced due to regulations, most Japanese TV ads are pathetically normal and Japanese audience prefer Disney over the locally-made animation.

If you see the big picture, Japanese culture looks even less unique.

Do I even need to explain the Chinese influences? The use of kanji and the presence of Chinese loanwords in the Japanese language, dishes like ramen, shoyu and gyoza, the Chinese-influenced traditional fashion and arts and the arrival of Buddhism via China.

And Chinese-influences are not the only ones prevalent in Japanese culture.

Tempura is of Portuguese origin and there are many yōshoku or western-influenced dishes, like katsu and omuraisu, in the country. Japanese language is also full of loanwords from Dutch, Portuguese and, of course, English; in fact, an elderly man sued the NHK for their excessive and unnecessary use of English loanwords.

Oh, and I don’t think I should remind you that most Japanese people, even ones in the rural areas, no longer wear kimonos in their daily lives.

My point is if you really love isolationism, it just does not make sense to fawn over a country that is clearly also under the influence of globalisation; even under the isolationist Tokugawa shogunate, Japan was not entirely cut off from the world.

It makes more sense if you fawn over the most isolated and primitive tribes instead.

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This Earth of Mankind: How it took me to a bumpy journey

This Earth of Mankind -or Bumi Manusia, as it is known in the original Indonesian title- is a novel written by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, an Indonesian author who was so politically rebellious, he was hated both by the Old Order and New Order regimes.

In fact, the latter even went on accusing the Buru Quartet -a tetralogy of novels which includes the aforementioned one- of being communist propaganda.

This novel is set in 19th century Indonesian -then-known as the Dutch Indies- and it centres on the life of Minke, a young blue-blooded Javanese man who was educated among the Dutch.

He is opinionated, critical-minded and not afraid to debate the so-called superior white people. He also falls for a young biracial woman, a daughter of a lunatic Dutch businessman and his well-educated Javanese concubine.

Basically, it is a historical/political/romance/philosophical novel.

Anyway, this novel has brought me to both ends of an ideological spectrum: a zealous nationalist and an anti-nationalist… well, sort of.

It turned me into a nationalist because, after just one reading, it convinced me that Indonesians had the potential to be more cultured and civilised than we were.

To this day, I still think we do have the potential. But, I was about twelve or thirteen when I first read the book. I was a fucking idiot.

I did not see the big picture and I couldn’t comprehend intricacies. I preferred to focus on the main character’s intelligence and sophistication and some of the Dutch characters’ lack of thereof.

As a result, I ended up believing that a true Indonesian should only embrace Indonesian things. I did not care about what it meant to be one, I only cared about the label.

Of course, I was a hypocrite. Despite my outward nationalism, I still loved anything foreign; in some cases, I preferred them over the local ones. In fact, instead of reading the original Indonesian copy, I read the English translation due to my lack of interest in reading anything written in my mother tongue.

When I read the novel again as an adult, I realised how nuanced the story was.

While the story clearly depicts the discrimination faced by the indigenous population, it is anything but black and white. Not all of the Dutch characters are bad and almost every native character seems unwilling or intellectually incapable of politically empowering themselves and fellow natives.

After realising the existence of the shades of grey, I gradually lose my nationalism and end up as an anti-nationalist.

Okay, calling me an anti-nationalist is inaccurate. Me before reading this novel was an anti-nationalist. I hated everything about Indonesia and I wished I was a citizen of a foreign country.

I don’t know which label that perfectly describes me now. But, one thing for sure: I don’t see anything wrong about avowing love for one’s country… as long as one acknowledges it is entirely based on emotional attachments.

Yes, emotional. You love a country simply because it is your home sweet home, NOT because of its so-called absolute and divine perfection… which existence defies common sense, unless you live in the land of make-believe.

Believe it or not, you can praise and condemn your country at the same time. Millions of people have done it millions of times. It is literally that easy.

Oh, and I can relate to the character on a personal level. He is Javanese yet educated among the Dutch (back then, indigenous identities were mostly regional and ethnic). I am Indonesian who grew up almost entirely on western entertainment. He is too indigenous for the Dutch and too Dutch for his Javanese family, I am too Indonesian for westerners and too western for my fellow Indonesians. We are stuck between both worlds.

The more I see the complexities of my self-identifications, the more I find labels grossly superficial. The more I think so, the more I despise any forms of identity politics, nationalism included.

I don’t think this novel is the sole reason why I reject nationalism. My interactions with foreigners online and my curiosity about history and culture are also instrumental in my personal growth.

But, as it successfully makes me contemplate about my Indonesianness, This Earth of Mankind is a big deal in my life and I would be surprised if it does not have the same effect on my fellow countrymen.

No wonder the Soeharto regime banned its publication. Tyrants love their sheep.

Riots: my Indonesian perspective

Martin Luther King said it is the language of the unheard. I am not 100% on board with it.

In the case of the still on-going Black Lives Matter riot (as of at the time of writing), I do think it is the language of the unheard. It is undeniable black Americans are disproportionately targeted by the justice system. Considering how every single one of their peaceful protests is condemned as ‘inappropriate’ by the establishment, it is no surprise race riot is still a semi-regular feature of the American life to this day.

Even if I dismiss the reports of white instigators (I don’t), I still cannot blame the rioters for being violently angry… while also acknowledging that small business owners also have the right to be bitter when their properties are burned down. Yes, you can do both.

Regarding the Hong Kong riots, I also think they are languages of the unheard. Contrary to popular belief (and I notice its prevalence among online Singaporeans), the Hong Kongers don’t rebel against the authorities just for the sake of it. They rebel because they truly appreciate the liberty they have enjoyed for decades, the liberty that citizens of mainland China (and Singapore) have never experienced.

The citywide legislative council has functional constituencies which allow special interest groups like corporations (many of which are Pro-Beijing) to vote and their votes have more weight than the ones of geographical constituencies. The city’s chief executive is directly appointed by Beijing. Pro-democracy camp is only dominant in the district councils.*

In Indonesia, it is a different case.

There are the infamous ‘wrapped rice’ protesters, those who join protest rallies simply because they want the free lunch and cash. The presence of organised and extensive logistical support, akin to a meticulously-planned event, is a dead giveaway.

Even though many of them are working-class people, their acts are not languages of the unheard. They do not represent their own causes, they represent the determination of certain parties to keep destabilising the public life.

Then, there are the Islamist protesters, who may or may not overlap with the aforementioned people.

They protest because they claim to be against the second-class status of Indonesian Muslims… even though we are a predominantly-Muslim nation that have never embraced state secularism, let alone the laïcité type; we were never banned from openly expressing our Islamic identity.

If anything, Islam is the golden child in Indonesia and has always been. Muslims do have privileges that non-Muslims lack.

Basically, the Islamist riots -which there are quite a lot of them- are not languages of the unheard. They are languages of fucktards who demand even more rights to oppress the religious minorities, who think protecting them is the same as oppressing the majority.

If you want to find Indonesian riots who are legitimate languages of the unheard, I will refer to the ones committed by Indonesian Papuans.

They are a marginalised racial and cultural group who have never benefitted from “joining” Indonesia. Their heritage is nothing but a mere cultural prop, their existence is a mere tokenism to our national diversity.

When they aggressively protested against a racism case in which Papuan students were called ‘monkeys’, the majority of Indonesians condemned the Papuans for rioting and not once acknowledging the root of the problem. Sounds familiar?

I am writing this essay (and pretending to have lots of readers) because I don’t want well-intentioned yet gullible people to defend the wrong parties. I don’t want them mistaking the oppressors as the oppressed ones.

We already have assholes who intentionally flip the narrative. We don’t need people to do it accidentally.

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*Yes, under the British rule, the governor of Hong Kong was appointed by the Queen and not by the Hong Kong people and all of the governors were white. But, the legislature was already dominated by Hong Kongers and it had far less functional constituencies.

Oh, and the government did not actively try to stifle freedom of speech. Don’t forget that.

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