So, you think the Russians are complicit?

If so, why?

Why do you think the ordinary Russians are guilty of the wars? Do you realise that not only the war has low support among them and the soldiers, they also live under an authoritarian regime and therefore, rendering them politically powerless? Do you realise that speaking out against the government can get you jailed and even killed?

I have to state the obvious because some of you still don’t get it and I don’t know why. Maybe you are a privileged fuck who spent their whole life in a liberal democratic bubble and don’t know how it feels to live under political repression. Or maybe, you are a bigot who will do anything to justify your dehumanising hatred of the Russians, regardless of the facts.

If you are the former, you probably think the Russian people can easily form paramilitary units and topple the government in days. You probably think the Russian people are lazy people whose desire for liberty is as paper thin as your desire to understand fellow human beings.

You probably think The Arab Spring and the fall of the USSR are great examples of how easy it is to defeat authoritarianism, even though the reality shows otherwise.

(I don’t know why I use the word “probably” when you motherfuckers explicitly spew those beliefs)

The Arab world are still packed with tyrannical leaders, Syria and Libya become plagued with instability, Russia in the 90’s was full of political and economic crises and it ends up with a post-Soviet tyrant anyway.

Basically, not only there is no guarantee of better lives, there is also high possibility of even worse ones; those who spend their lives in liberal democracies don’t know the feeling.

As you can see, I believe it is stupid to hold all Russians accountable. But, even if I believe such intellectual retardation, how does that make Americans and their allies?

Americans have way more freedom to oppose the establishment. But, the majority of them chose to support the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, happily consumed pro-war media content and even reelected their president! Even to this day, many Americans still make excuses for the invasions and American media has yet to acknowledge their past sin.

And American allies …

Some actively supported America in the invasions and even committing their own war crimes. Those who were not busy participating could have easily boycotted America and other war participants… and yet, they did none of those.

Despite having the freedom to publicly oppose the wars, to vote every single war-mongering politician out of office, to put every single war-mongering media outlet out of business and having the power to boycott entire countries, they voluntarily choose to support the wars, vote for the war-mongers and keep making them extremely rich and let the war participants unpunished.

I don’t believe all Americans and all citizens of their allies are complicit, just like I don’t believe all Russians are. In this regard, I am consistent. But, some of you clearly aren’t.

If you believe all Russians are complicit, then you should also believe all Americans and their allies are blood-thirsty war-mongers who want their children and children’s children aroused by the sight of white people turning brown people into mutilated corpses.

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Confederacy….. and bin Laden?

In a Japan episode of Vox’s Border, a far-right Japanese activist said it was offensive for the Zainichi Koreans (Koreans who have been presence in Japan since the Japanese rule of Korea) to have schools dedicated to North Korean-style education. He believes it is akin to America having schools dedicated to Osama bin Laden.

Well, about that…

After the civil war in which the separatist, slavery-advocating Confederacy lost, a handful of Americans started propagandistic efforts to ensure the heroic long-lasting legacy of the secessionist state; they whitewashed history education and built monuments glorifying the Confederates. They have successfully brainwashed many into believing that the Confederates were fighting for states’ rights, without asking which rights.

Then, during the civil rights activism era, more Confederate monuments were build. It sent a clear message that they wanted to keep black people as second-class citizens.

Not to mention there are many schools and even military bases named after Confederate leaders.

Never mind the Americans who think factually-misleading monuments can teach us history. Some also believe the Confederates should also be celebrated because they were a part of American history, regardless of the damages they caused.

If that’s the mentality, why stop there? Why don’t they also celebrate other people who tried to destroy America? You know, like Osama bin Laden.

Considering he is a significant and undeniable part of American history, why won’t Americans celebrate his glory and mourn over his demise? Why won’t they name schools and military bases after him?

Obviously, those rhetorical questions. The Confederates were seen as Americans – regardless of their secessionist tendency – and they were driven by an ideology which many contemporary Americans deem tolerable or even desirable. Meanwhile, bin Laden was not an American and his ideology is inspired by his Islam faith, which makes it unacceptable for many Americans.

As a Muslim myself, I despise Islamic extremists and their apologists. But, I would have respected the history negationists much more if they are consistent.

I would undoubtedly be frustrated if they celebrate both the Confederates and bin Laden. But, at least, they are genuinely motivated by the misguided desire to celebrate history, NOT by the desire to whitewash certain ideologies.

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How NOT to praise Baby Boomers

 

Praise them for boosting the prosperity

Obviously, this has been brought up many times before and it only applies to modern countries which economic booms happened almost right after the second world war.

If you want to credit anyone who created the booms, credit the Boomers’ parents and grandparents. They were the ones in charge.

In my home country Indonesia, I would not say they ruined the economy. They did improve it. But, our country has yet to become an economic powerhouse with extremely low poverty rate and high rate of ease of doing business. The improvement is meagre and unimpressive.

If anything, many joined forces with Soeharto in making the country a more sectarian, more anti-intellectual and more brutal place to live. Many were already adults in the early years of his regime; therefore, they had the option to not get brainwashed. I am sure those who participated in the still-glorified anti-Communist purge were also Boomers.

Praise them for having great taste

Well, admittedly, Boomers do have a great taste in music. But, I cannot fully praise them for having so.

Why? Because their taste was mainstream. Therefore, they were not special. That’s like praising someone who was raised among English speakers for being fluent in the language.

I prefer to credit the pre-war generations for influencing the Boomers’ musical taste. I mean, they were the recording studio bosses! They were the ones who decided what kind of music the youngsters at the time should listen to!

Oh, and don’t forget that Boomers are also among the current music producers who churn out craps, sacrificing artistic integrity for profit’s sake.

If I want to go further with American Boomers, not many of them had a good taste in cinema as well.

The Hollywood Renaissance, which was marked by directorial independence and respect of artistry, would not exist without the university-educated young Americans who loved watching the more aesthetic European and Japanese cinemas and formed the majority of moviegoers in the 1960’s America.

That’s a very specific demographic. Unless a boomer was among the moviegoers studio executives tried to pander to, we cannot credit him/her for a having a good taste in films.

Praise them for their great personalities

Some Boomers are known for overplaying their greatness and accusing Millennials and Gen Z for being entitled snowflakes, even though they themselves were raised in a significantly more prosperous era (again, in some countries), demand absolute respect just because they are old and get offended by OK Boomer, one of the mildest memes ever.

When they do admit their roles in wrecking the prosperity (which they enjoyed immensely), they shamelessly and openly wash their hands of their sins and act like old age and near-death are to be regarded as absolution.

To sum things up, they are conceited, delusional, fragile, hypocritical and irresponsible. Only donkeys think any of those traits are wonderful in any ways.

Oh, and even if I am willing to pretend military enlistment makes one an inherently heroic and courageous person (it inherently does not), you cannot use the American war in Vietnam to make the Boomers look heroic and courageous.

Why? Because conscription.

Able-bodied young men were obligated to enlist, whether they wanted to or not. If they were indeed heroic and courageous, they would have enlisted voluntarily without being forced to. They would have to enlist simply because they loved the idea of serving their countries (or, to be more accurate, their countries’ political establishments).

We can also use this argument to debunk the myth of the ‘heroic’ and ‘courageous’ generations of both world wars.

Praise them for their progressiveness

Some Boomers claim they are the bastion of progressiveness, supposedly due to many of them being Hippies in the olden days. So, let’s just pretend the Hippie movement was indeed all about peace and freedom (sceptical about it).

I may acknowledge that Boomers did lead a sexual revolution in the west. But, that’s the extent of their progressiveness.

Even the resulting sexual liberty was still very heteronormative. The west started to become widely pro-LGBT rights just mere two decades ago; even as late as the 90’s, gay Hollywood actors were forced to stay closeted.

If anything, many Boomers in the US and UK ended up voting for conservative governments in the 1980’s. And you cannot convince me there are none of them in the reactionary and war-mongering establishments.

War-mongering…

Never mind the Afghan and Iraq wars. How can one defend a generation for being peace-loving while at the same time lauding them for participating in a war?

“You are a hateful, ageist Millennial!”

No, I am not.

My words are expressions of frustrations against the ageist Boomers who try to convince everyone about their generation’s absolute supremacy. If I am a hateful ageist, wouldn’t I use their old age as an argument of how pieces of shit they are?

Obviously, if you really want to defend the Boomers, you would need facts and refrain from dramatising them. In order to do so, you need to be a reasonable and truth-loving person.

If you are a Boomer who believe in your generation’s divine greatness or a younger person who believes we must always respect ALL older people regardless of their actual respectability, then you are neither reasonable nor truth-loving.

If you belong to either category, then I can easily dismiss your argument. You cannot prove anyone wrong by using falsehoods and overstatements.

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“You are not from here! Shut the f#@k up!”

Those are the words regurgitated by Americans and, to a lesser extent, Brits and Aussies every time I -an Indonesian- critically comment on their countries. They believe I don’t have the grounds to do so and should just focus on my shitty country.

Do they have a point? No, they don’t.

Yes, I have only visited the US and the UK once long ago and I only lived in Australia for around a year. But, at the same time, I am (relatively) proficient in the English language. It enables me to interact with Americans, Brits and Aussies and getting to know their worldviews, both the good and the ugly.

Some of them try to camouflage their rotten true selves by spraying fragrant rhetoric into the air, successfully fooling the fools. Some don’t even try to hide their rottenness. While it is indeed hard to smell beyond the perfume, the unconcealed rotten stench is hard to ignore.

My English fluency also enables me to consume Anglophone media (even though I have been consuming it long before I could properly understand the language). Yes, it does not represent the reality. But, it does represent the ideals approved by the establishment and/or the masses.

As the Queen’s accent has become less prevalent in British TV shows and films, we can confidently say its social prestige has dwindled in the UK. As American pop culture has romanticise depictions of America’s interventionist foreign policy and no one bats an eye, we can confidently say the American public and establishment tolerate or even embrace interventionism.

How we react to the news stories are also very revealing. As many Americans are aroused by reports of police brutality, we can confidently say violent authority figures are worshipped by a large chunk of the American public.

How about those foreigners who want me to shut the fuck up? How much do they know about Indonesia?

Unsurpisingly, almost nothing.

None of them have ever visited it; when they do, they have only visited Bali, an extremely touristy province with predominantly-Hindu locals. None of them can speak Indonesian or any Malay dialects, hindering them from exploring the Indonesian mass media and the people’s reactions to its content.

For many of them, I am their first contact with an Indonesian. Some of them claim to have Indonesian friends which they are deem more knowledgeable about the country than I am, probably because they affirm false preconceived notions.

Sometimes I wonder if their Indonesian friends actually spent much of their lives abroad and have spent little or no time living here. Sometimes I wonder if they even exist. Call me a denier. But, knowing how humans behave, my scepticism is justified.

Those foreigners are indeed right to say Indonesia is a predominantly-Muslim country with human rights violations. But, those are extremely broad remarks. Everyone knows Indonesia is predominantly-Muslim and saying that a country has human rights violations is as in-depth as saying it has foods. It means shit.

When they do detail the cases, they exaggerate virtually all of them to a thousandfold.

Aceh does enforce compulsory hijab. But, there is no national policy obliging women to wear it and they can been seen ‘uncovered’ in the public spaces.

There are indeed territories that shut down churches under the pretense of ‘permit issues’. But, outside those territories, there are tens of thousands of churches still standing with thriving congregations.

Aceh, an Indonesian province, does implement provincial Sharia and that empowers Islamists all over the country. But, we have thirty-four provinces and Aceh is literally the only one governed under religious legislation; our national government does not use Sharia as its guiding principles, never declares the country as ‘Islamic’ and, in fact, acknowledges five other religions. The reality contradicts that infamous Pew Report (which probably only surveyed ‘mosque dwellers’ instead of those who have lives outside mosques and idiots still believe in the inherent quantitative researches despite sampling bias being a fucking real problem).

If you ask those foreigners, they would probably get many basic facts of Indonesia wrong.

Ask them to find the country on the map and they would probably point to the wrong location.

Ask them about its number of population and they would be surprised the country is the fourth most populated in the world.

Ask them to name our official language and they would probably answer ‘Arabic’, thinking that all Muslims are Arabs and vice versa.

Ask them to name our ethnic groups and they would probably stutter and think there is only one, not expecting any forms of diversity (there are far-right westerners who falsely believe every non-western country is homogenous and they utilise the lie as an argument against multiculturalism in the west).

Ask them to name the country which Bali is a part of and many of them would be shocked it is not a country; they would also be shocked that a predominantly-Hindu territory and an extremely hedonistic tourist destination is a province of a predominantly-Muslim country (and it seems the misconception indirectly endorse the falsehood about Indonesia being a Saudi Arabia clone).

If you ask me any basic facts about Australia, the UK and the US, there is a chance I would fare better than many of the citizens. Many Americans still think English is the de jure official language of their country and many Aussies and Brits still don’t know the duties of most present-day monarchs, including the British ones, are entirely ceremonial. I can also name of said countries’ many territories, including their still-existing colonies; many Americans don’t know what DC stands for and that Puerto Rico is a US territory.

In conclusion, not only the foreigners who told me to shut up don’t have any credibility to comment on my country, I have more credibility to comment on their own countries than they do… and mind you, my credibility is still low considering I don’t live there.

To change the topic a bit…

I am also rather assertive with my opinions about East Asia. Not as much. But, it still manages to irk one of my friends.

He said I couldn’t speak any East Asian languages and I have never lived in the region. As a person of East Asian descent who can speak multiple East Asian languages and have lived in two East Asian countries, he was annoyed by me and reasonably so.

But, he was also fucking annoying.

Instead of giving me evidences that counter my remarks, he simply said I should simply try living in those countries. For him, it was more than enough to put me in my place.

Yeah, no.

When foreigners claim Indonesia is an Islamic theocracy, I can tell them that the country still has loads of active non-Islamic places of worships, hijab-less women outside Aceh and things that are considered ‘un-Islamic’… and I can support my claim by simply linking them to countless videos showcasing hijab-less Indonesian women, vibrant church worships and the secular, extremely hedonistic and highly-westernised Indonesian pop culture.

Whether they convince the fools or not, it does not matter. I know my country rather well (I love to think so, anyway) and I have a decent internet access. Therefore, I have the means to debunk the falsehood and I can do so almost instantly. I have no excuses to not do so.

My friend annoys me because he complains about my alleged ignorance… and yet he does not bother to counter despite having the means to do so.

I don’t know how a person can see ignorance right in front of him/her, get agitated by it and somehow too lazy to annihilate it.

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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    Different types of Hasan Minhaj haters

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

    Now, where do I start?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    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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