DECEMBER 10 — In Paul Beatty’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Sellout, the protagonist reinstates segregation in a small town as a way of reinvigorating his black community.
Perversely, he realised that blacks require institutional discrimination as a means of casting off the pretence or façade of formal equality, a subtle deception which was a greater burden than overt racism.
I wonder what Beatty would have said if he was in KL last Saturday.
Okay so there’s a rally to protest the ICERD. Sure... they must be protesting the fact that it wasn’t ratified, right? Surely this must be the minority groups pissed at the government for refusing to take the next important step towards ending racial discrimination, no? This rally is a straight-forward rally against racism, right?
But hang on. Wait a minute. Huh? This protest was by members of the majority segment, the group already enjoying the lion’s share of political power and constitutionally stipulated privileges, people who for years have the fewest reasons to claim ill or unequal treatment by the government — hang on, these are the groups protesting? And they’re protesting the ICERD after the government agreed not to ratify it?
Kinda like white communities in the US and UK complaining about a lack of benefits and advantage in life after a decision which promoted white supremacy, isn’t it?
A straightforward parenting metaphor cum lesson is available here. If you spend many years showing favouritism to one child over the others in your family, in the end the result will be detrimental to that favoured child.
S/he will have entitlement grow on him, and fury will follow any time his Most Favoured Kid status is under threat. Unless this child has learnt to share with his/her siblings or, better yet, serve and suffer for them, one dark truth will become absolutely clear: This child will never grow up.
Amidst all the shouting and screaming and intimidating, I wonder if people like PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang and Perkasa’s president Datuk Ibrahim Ali realise that the ratification of the ICERD is not only about promising equality for all ethnic groups, it’s also about helping selected members of that one particular ethnic majority to finally break free from the shadow of partiality.
True diversity isn’t only about levelling the playing field so minorities can enjoy what the majority has taken for granted, it’s also about saving the latter from hubris.
The ICERD spurs dominant groups to grow up, to throw off the “siege mentality”, to quit betraying their sense of inferiority (for why else would people threaten to go “voluntarily berserk” if there wasn’t some deep fear within them?).
Again, if the constantly privileged older brother keeps portending domestic doom each time Mummy says all children will be given a more or less equal allowance, he needs to be reprimanded — not appeased.
The government’s decision to not ratify the ICERD itself spoke volumes about Malaysia Baharu’s ability (or, rather, inability) to stand up to an extremist minority; to allow such a rally appears to add insult to injury (or culpability to compromise).
A New Malaysia needs to be one that has grown up. Last Saturday was proof we’re still in our diapers.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.