Surviving religious education.

The recent tragic death of 11-year-old Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gadaffi following beatings he allegedly suffered at a private Islamic boarding school has apparently outraged a good many Malaysians.

And I see that the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has called on the government to abolish corporal punishment in schools on the grounds that it violates children’s rights by harming them not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally.

Morally too, I would add, in light of the fact that so many survivors of the same system of ‘religious’ schooling as proved fatal to Mohamad Thaqif are clearly left hopelessly confused between right and wrong.

Or perhaps not so much confused as highly selective and hypocritical in their moral judgements, as, for example, the purportedly ultra-pious members and supporters of PAS clearly are in their strident support for the corporal punishment of ordinary Muslims of all ages for a whole range of offences against shariah law, but shamefully silent in the face of crimes against the Malaysian people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, by the ruling Umno/BN regime.

And as for the ever-ruling regime itself, whatever ‘religious’ so-called ‘education’ that its members have received has apparently rendered them so hopelessly morally and ethically confused as to be capable of engaging in unholy degrees of corruption, criminality, secrecy and deceit, while simultaneously and hyper-hypocritically pretending to be engaged in a ceaseless ‘struggle’ to ‘defend’ Islam.

This pathologically paradoxical situation is by no means confined to Umno/BN, or Islam, or Malaysia, of course, but prevails to a greater or lesser extent wherever in the world that the terms ‘religion’ and ‘education’ are employed in combination, be it unthinkingly or with deliberate intent to deceive the innocent, the ignorant and the incurably gullible.

An observation that leads me to my point here, which is that ‘religious education’ is a contradiction in terms, or in other words an oxymoron. Though I have to confess that I feel like a total Aussie moron to have taken so much of my life to arrive at this realization.

By way of self-explanation if not justification, however, I was born so bereft of knowledge and power that I quickly came to perceive my parents as omniscient and omnipotent, and thus saw nothing amiss in their taking me to church every Sunday.

Same deal when they sent me off to school, where, since the nuns were called ‘sister’ or ‘mother’, and the male teachers ‘brother’ or ‘father’, and I heard lots about somebody called ‘baby Jesus’, I got the distinct impression that, along with my co-religionist classmates, I was part of some special extended family.

Later I felt somewhat let down to learn that this ‘family’ perceived itself as a more sheep-like ‘flock’ of which the formerly infant Jesus was considered the ‘good shepherd’, and whose authority was sometimes symbolized by a ‘crook’.

Long before I came to see the sinister ambiguity of this ‘crook’ concept, however, or started getting cross about this and pretty well every aspect of my own and other religions, I’d started my so-called ‘education’.

A process that, unlike the late, lamented young Mohamad Thaqif, I survived with all my limbs and my life, thanks to the relative mildness of the corporal punishment my teachers meted-out.

And I never suffered any of the sexual abuse that has subsequently been alleged that a small but significant minority of Catholic clergymen committed back then and since on children entrusted to their charge.

Nor, at least at the time it was happening, did I feel much if any pain as a result of what I later came to see as the intellectual and mental abuse arising from being fed a load of religious fantasies to accept as if they were facts.

Imparting the so-called ‘truths’ of religion to innocent, unsuspecting children, even to the point of forcing them to rote-learn and parrot allegedly ‘divinely-inspired’ texts, and requiring them to have ‘faith’ in such stuff on pain of ‘sin’ against some imaginary ‘almighty’ is an outrage.

As is thus indoctrinating them into any religion without also informing them about at least a selection of the countless atrocities that have been committed in the names of religions since time immemorial, and so appallingly continue to be committed today.

And, despite such enlightened views as those brilliantly expressed by Azly Rahman in his recent Malaysiakini column in which he deplores the ‘heartless, mindless and soul-less system of schooling and learning,’ even more of the same is threatened as recently by the allegedly ‘educated’ likes of Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

In a recent public speech, Zahid, who claims to have a PhD, but which to judge by the way he talks could well signify not a ‘doctorate of philosophy’ but a ‘phoney degree’, declared that ‘if our social contract is broken, there will not only be social disorder but worse than that, our streets will be littered with blood and dead bodies.’

‘Those mad and irrational people out there who are propagating social disorder and tearing the fabric of our social structure must be challenged and overcome by our citizens who understand the reason for our being,’ he ranted on, in support of his highly-debatable further proposition that ‘the emergence of social media has deeply affected belief systems, intellectual thinking and moral principles, with mankind slowly being made to lose its dignity.’

This, I contend, is precisely the kind of maimed and misleading mindset that comes from the confusion, deliberate or otherwise, of mindless religious indoctrination or poisonous propaganda with true, enlightened education.

A concept that, as I recall from my school Latin lessons, is based on the word ‘educare’, meaning to ‘draw out’ as in liberate the young, indeed people of all ages, from ignorance, prejudice, irrationality and falsehood rather than to induce or further sustain such crippling mental blocks.

But, though it’s possibly small consolation to Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gadaffi’s bereaved family and friends, at least he is free forever of such pernicious ‘religious’ and other similarly destructive so-called ‘educational’ influences, and we can hope that the memory of his sad fate will serve as a lesson that will help many other young Malaysian minds to survive.

 

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Totally fake and on the take.

That to me pretty concisely sums-up the Umno/BN regime and the most compelling reasons why Malaysians in all their diversity need to unite to remove this curse from the country they claim to love.

But unfortunately, as demonstrated by Umno/BN’s fake ‘win’ of a majority of seats in the 13th general election despite its loss of the overall majority of votes, the very fakery and on-the-takery that render the regime such a curse are also what keep it alive.

Fake Umno/BN election ‘success’, for example, depends not only on the drawing of fake electoral boundaries by the regime’s fake electoral commission, but also on enough citizens either willing to take bribes to vote for the highest bidder, or else so patently and pathetically fake as to not bother to register or turn up to vote at all.

Similarly, the survival of Umno/BN’s fake ‘news’ media depend on not only on such constitution-faking laws as the unconstitutionally-oppressive Printing, Presses and Publications Act and the transparency-killing Official Secrets Act, but on the co-operation of countless fake ‘journalists’ corruptly taking salaries in return for their support of the regime in the form of lies, spin, self-censorship or outright silence.

And so on and on, through every conceivable institution of government and department of the civil services.

So it came as no surprise last week when fake Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, already under strong suspicion of being massively on the take via such scams as the long-ago Scorpene Submarines purchase and the currently very much ongoing multi-billion-ringgit 1Malaysia Development Berhad swindle, once again stole US President Donald Trump’s trademark ‘fake news’ concept for the purpose of belabouring his own detractors and critics.

Umno/BN’s very own fake ‘news agency’, Bernama, reported a lavish selection of Najib’s typical exercises in fakery, like, for example, his claim that ‘a well-known foreign newspaper’ had printed ‘complete lies about the government’, and that this had been done ‘without a shred of evidence, and based solely on nameless, anonymous sources who may not even exist.’

When in fact, as everybody knows, the so-called ‘well-known foreign newspaper’ was the highly respectable Wall Street Journal, and that, far from alone, the WSJ was joined in this reporting by countless other such trusted newspapers as the Washington Post and the Guardian; the story was not about the Malaysian government, but Najib himself; and the sources on which the running story was based, far from being ‘nameless’ or ‘anonymous’ or even non-existent, included such authorities as the US Department of Justice.

Entirely undaunted by the universally-known facts of the matter, however, which included numerous mentions of ‘Malaysian Official 1 (MO1) or in other words apparently Najib himself in the findings of the Department of Justice investigation and similar probes in Swiss, Singaporean and other jurisdictions, this faker went on to claim that such highly-credible reports ‘represent a cancer at the heart of journalism…a disease that can have very serious effects.’

And as if that wasn’t a fake enough take on the topic, Najib also claimed in the same fake diatribe that the Umno/BN regime permits considerable freedom of speech in Malaysia, in contravention of the clearly evident fact that a great many critics of him and his government’s blatant fakery and takery have been summarily hit with charges of sedition

Indeed, perhaps the most persistently outspoken of such critics, cartoonist Zulkifly al Haq, aka Zunar, is still, as far as I’m aware, subject to such a slew of sedition charges that at least in theory he’s facing the threat of over 40 years in jail.

Freedom of speech? Freedim or freedumb of speech, more like it. Except, of course, for Najib and his accomplices in faking and taking, who consider themselves absolutely free to speak as much stupid, lying nonsense as they please.

Such stupid, lying nonsense, in fact, as Najib’s recent ‘reminder’, again reported by his fake ‘news’ agency Bernama, that people should not support opposition parties as ‘there are leaders among them who do not want to see the development of Islam and Malays in the country.’

He then went on to claim that ‘the opposition practices an “end justifies the means” concept simply to unseat the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’ before delivering himself of a virtually incomprehensible clutter of fake religiosity to the effect that ‘The goal must be noble, the method must also be correct, if it’s not done in the right way, God will not accept our worship, everything must be right, if the method is not right, our worship despite our good intentions will not be accepted by God, and even in politics we have to hold to the principles of Islam.’

In other words, as I understand Najib to mean by these incoherent ravings, he’s perfectly prepared to risk darkening the names of Islam and of the divinity in which he allegedly believes by associating them with his fake, on-the-take and altogether god-forsaken regime.

An attempted association that, if I happened to be even remotely religious, I imagine that I’d see as little if anything short of blasphemous. And just one more of the many urgently compelling reasons why Malaysians should finally and for once and for all force Najib and his Umno/BN accomplices to take or better still fake off.

 

 

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Nothing but turn and bull 2.

I first made the point last year that Malcolm Turnbull’s strategy for surviving as prime minister was nothing but a combination of turn and bull.

Back then he’d turned from climate-change believer to sceptic and marriage equality advocate to equivocator, and turned like a mad dog on working backpackers in an attempt to hit them with a 36 per cent income tax, as well as on asylum-seekers with a lifetime ban on entry to Australia, and tried to justify all the turning with a total load of bull.

But since all that didn’t improve his pathetic ratings in the polls, indeed quite the opposite, he and his fellow Coalition Turnbullshitters seem fatally stuck with the same self-destructive strategy.

In concert with Treasurer Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Turnbull has turned from his avowed intention to reform Australia’s taxation system to giving a whopping tax break to business, and tried to justify it with a load of bull about how it would work to create jobs.

Then he and his money-men turned to pretending they had concerns about housing affordability for would-be first home buyers in Australia, especially in Sydney and Melbourne, but then turned against doing anything to alleviate the effects of such obviously price-inflating policies like negative gearing and capital gains tax benefits.

In the process talking heaps of bullshit about having to be careful not to destabilize the national economy, but actually refusing to act beyond urging state governments to boost housing supply, as most Coalition voters, not to mention Coalition politicians themselves, have a vested interest in keeping real-estate values soaring.

Then it was the turn of Australia’s electricity market to receive the Turnbull treatment. He and Energy Minister Frydenberg turned on the South Australian government and blamed its renewable-energy policies for power blackouts in that state. But when that turned out to be a load of bull, and Victoria and New South Wales looked like suffering power overloads too, Turnbull advocated fixing the problem by beefing-up the capacity of the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric system.

Never mind that this bullshit solution would take at least 10 years and leave the populace with a bill of at least $2 billion.

And speaking of the billions all these bullshit schemes cost us, since then it has become clear that, having turned from a supporter of a carbon tax on fossil-fuels emissions to a supporter of keeping the ‘coal’ in Coalition, the Turnbull government intends to support the highly-controversial coalmine mooted for Queensland by Indian corporation Adani with a billion dollars of Australian taxpayer funds for infrastructure.

This, like the reduction in the rate of company tax, justified by the alleged creation of jobs. In the Adani case as many as 10,000 jobs according to the Turnbull government’s official line of bull, but as few as less than 2,000 according to many mining experts.

But, apparently undaunted by such a spectacular series of self-inflicted debacles and packs of lies, now Turnbull has apparently turned to pinning his fading hopes on that proverbial last resort of the scoundrel, patriotism.

What a turn-up for the books this is. Not only ‘reform’ of the foreign-worker visa system supposedly to protect those ever-elusive Australian jobs the Turnbull government keeps endlessly promising to generate, but also a savage increase in both the duration and difficulty of obtaining Australian citizenship.

With the latter proposed on totally bullshit grounds to do with the allegedly to do with ‘Australian values’, but to me smacking suspiciously of Donald Trump—style anti-Islamic jingoism, given that one of the principle values mentioned was opposition to genital mutilation.

Which is all very sanctimonious and politically-correct, of course. But from what I’ve seen of the citizenship tests as they stand, let alone the stricter ones the Turnbull and his patriots are proposing, most people born in Australia would be unlikely to be able to pass them.

And as for genital mutilation, which in any case is strictly forbidden by law in Australia, I wonder if this prohibition would extend to genital modification.

Like, for example, the circumcision that was virtually routine for male infants born in Australia back when I was, during World War 2, and as always has been and still is for males members of Judaism and Islam.

In any event, who the hell do the likes of Turnbull and his drongo Immigration Minister Dutton think they are to set themselves up as judges of what are and aren’t ‘Australian’ values?

Surely the Turnbull government, through all its betrayals of principles such as those of economic fairness, gender equality and environmental protection, not to mention its systematic bullshitty betrayal of the principle of telling the people the truth, is the last group to be trusted as judge and jury about what is and isn’t in accord with ‘Australian values’.

Or so it seems to me as someone who’s been an Australian for longer than any of them, and who sees our strength as a people in being able to get along despite our deep individual differences, not because we share some alleged ‘Aussieness’ as defined by the Turnbullshitters of some coterie of conservatives trying to pass themselves off as Liberals.

 

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Easter bunnies.

Perhaps in retribution for the dim view of the season that I expressed in ‘Easter escape’, the column I wrote on the subject for Malaysiakini and also posted here yesterday, fate has made a total bunny of me this Easter Sunday.

Having woken up far too early for my customary Sunday-morning coffee and chat with my friend and neighbor, Michael, I had the bright idea of doing a load of washing in expectation of impressing my wife with my housekeeping efforts on her return from her few days’ off in Tasmania.

But, boy, talk about getting egg on my face. Somebody had apparently booby-trapped one of the garments with a white facial tissue, and thus, despite all the cursing and shaking I subjected all the washed items to as I hung them out to dry, they look as though they’ve been befurred by a whole hutchfull of angora rabbits.

A result that threatened to totally spoil my day, until I eventually got to the café with Michael and saw in the paper there that the Kim Jong-Un regime had made an even more spectacular bunny of itself by firing a missile to demonstrate what a deadly danger it is to its neighbours and the US, only to have the thing explode seconds after it left the launch-pad.

And now that I’m back home from the café, I see that a Malaysiakini reader hiding his or her identity behind the pseudonym ‘Prudent’ has been so enraged by my criticisms of religion in general and Christianity particular in my ‘Easter escape’ column as to make a total bunny of him- or herself with the comment that ‘You are one very confused and deceived old man. If you have nothing good to write, please don’t. Malaysiakini should not allow the above article to pass muster. It is just an inane and insane rant against what Dean Johns is confused about the Christian faith. Malaysiakini, please do not allow such articles of negative value to the common good to pass your muster again!’

Of course I can’t be sure what religion Prudent represents, but if it’s one of the clutter of competing and conflicting sects all claiming to be the one ‘true’ form of the vast collection of illusions and delusions that calls itself Christianity, then I rest my case.

This is a typical example of an alleged Christian’s failure to adhere to the alleged advice of his or her alleged ‘saviour’ to charitably, indeed meekly respond to aggression by turning the other cheek.

But at least there’s a sign in there that criticism by us Crosstians, or in other words I and all my fellow former faithful who have become so cross at the unholy attitudes and antics with which clerics and congregations have double-crossed Christianity over the centuries as to abandon it in disgust, has had an improving effect.

For example, for the sin of casting doubt on Christianity in particular and religion in general, ‘Prudent’ proposes that I should be punished by being banned, whereas back in the good old days of Christianity he/she could easily have had me burned.

But save in more recently-invented ‘faiths’ like Islam, many of whose adherents still persist in killing its critics, apostates or opponents by stoning and sundry other methods, Christianity has been persuaded to abandon the death penalty for dissenters and disbelievers.

So enlightened has Christianity become, in fact, in the face of pressure from us Crosstians and other secularists, that the current head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has, in his special message this Easter, called for his followers to feel ‘shame’ at both their own callous indifference to the horrendous sufferings of people of other faiths, or even no faiths, in all the wars and natural disasters around the world, and also at the scandalous degree of child sexual abuse committed by members of their clergy.

For all my rabbiting on about others who’ve managed to making jokes (yolks?) of themselves this Easter, however, be they utterly bad eggs like Kim Jong-Un or the merely scramble-brained like ‘Prudent’ so evidently is, I have to confess that I still don’t feel any better about having made such a bunny of myself earlier, laundrywise.

And even less funny is the fact that I’m still stuck with the task of somehow ridding a whole line-load of washing of about a billion bits of tissue within the next hour or so, so my wife won’t die laughing at the sight of the kind of housework that’s been happening while she’s been away having a happy, husband-free Easter.

 

 

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Easter escape.

I wasn’t always driven to escape Easter. In fact for most of my life I positively, even passionately embraced and thoroughly enjoyed Easter as a way of escaping the everyday as much as most of my fellow Australians still do.

For example, my very hard-working daughter still does, and so enthusiastically that she’s gone on a jaunt with friends to a bush camp that’s five hours’ drive from Sydney at the best of times, but who knows how much longer in the bumper-to-bumper Easter traffic.

And my wife also evidently welcomes Easter as a well-earned break, as, despite the exhausting effort of working at two jobs as well as a PhD thesis, she’s somehow summoned-up the energy to accompany her mother on a flying four-day flying visit to Tasmania.

But I can no longer share their delight at the prospect of an extended weekend, Easter or otherwise, as ever since I’ve been deemed too old for regular paid employment, my life has felt pretty much like a weekend without end.

So it feels like fun, or at least a nice change every Friday, and especially today, Good Friday, the eagerly-awaited first day of the long Easter weekend for most of my fellows, to be sitting on my weak end writing this column.

Since I wrote that previous paragraph, however, I have to confess that I’ve weakened a little and abandoned my total Good Friday escape into solitude for the comparative sociality of my favourite Newtown café, Buzzbar.

Which is clearly not buzzing as much as usual, presumably because so many of its customers have, like my family, joined the Easter exodus to elsewhere, or are off in the supermarkets stocking-up with such traditional Easter goodies as chocolate eggs and hot cross buns.

Two festive treats that symbolize the apparently dual historical significance of the Easter season. Easter eggs and the bunny that allegedly brings and hides them for children to find are believed by many scholars to be faint remaining traces, or, if you prefer, cultural fossils, of the cults surrounding an ancient European fertility goddess with various names like Ostara and Oestre, the latter recalled today in such terms as ‘oestrus’ and ‘oestrogen’ as well, of course, as Easter.

And of course hot cross buns more obviously symbolize the alleged events with which Christianity replaced these Astara/Oestre spring fertility and re-birth festivals, the death by crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ.

An observation that brings me to the reason why, just as lack of work and dwindling reserves of energy have released me from any secular longings I formerly had to celebrate the long Easter weekend, erosion of faith in Christianity, or indeed any other religion, has relieved me of any former feelings of obligation to observe the ‘sacred’ rites of Easter.

Countless fellow Australians and billions of others around the world continue to mourn the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, the self-proclaimed son of God, on Good Friday, and celebrate his resurrection on Easter Sunday in advance of his ‘ascension’ to heaven soon after.

Though, with no offence to these people or their continued beliefs in various Christianities, I can no longer join them in what I’ve come to perceive as nothing but Christinanities if not outright Christinsanities.

Or even, if you like, Christinsanitaries, in light of the evident reality that the ‘sacrament’ of ‘communion’ involving metaphorical or even literal eating and drinking of Christ’s body and blood, smacks extremely distastefully of ritual cannibalism.

In short, for many reasons, from the murderous sectual and textual divisiveness promoted between the countless theologies and their competitors, to the ever-evident fact that none of the competing forms of alleged godliness have ever been demonstrably more successful in promoting human goodness than systems of secular ethics have, I’m delighted to have made my escape from any and every version or perversion Christianity, and every other superstition posing as a ‘religious faith’ into the bargain.

Back home now from Buzzbar, I’m trying to finish this column while half-watching the ABC24 news channel to catch up on what a typically dreadful so-called ‘Good’ Friday the people of the world have enjoyed courtesy of such countries as ‘Orthodox’ Christian Russia, Bashar al-Assad’s Christian-supported Alawite-ruled Syria, conflicted Communist-Capitalist China, Communist-Kimist North Korea, IS and sundry other competing if not outright warring Sunni and Shia Muslim states and the fundamentalist, born-again and otherwise confusedly Christian US.

What a shambles. What a total disgrace. What an object, abject lesson in the vicious falsehoods, savage divisiveness, and murderous power-tripping that as far as I’m concerned prevail not despite, but due to the deplorable fact that the vast majority of the human race still persists in permitting itself to be fooled and thus divided and ruled by ludicrous fantasies and falsehoods posing as ‘faiths’.

But hey, here’s wishing you as happy as possible an Easter escape anyway, or better still a happy escape from Easter and every other occasion that’s promoted in support of some group’s alleged God in preference to humankind’s general good.

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Cruise missiles..or ruse missiles?

Oops! To my intense embarrassment, especially in light of all the claims I’ve been making here about the resistance mission I’m on in the Word Wars between truth and fakery, I suspect that I’ve foolishly fallen victim to some of the very weapons of mass deception that I’m so dedicated to defeating.

And I have absolutely no excuse for so shamefully failing to deploy my defensive skepticism. How on earth could I have forgotten, even momentarily, the lesson we all so painfully learned from the forces of mass deception when they faked fantastic tales of weapons of mass destruction to justify the so-called Coalition of the Willing in its waging of the still-raging war in Iraq?

All too easily, I’m afraid. I let my emotion blind me to reality, thus once again demonstrating the wisdom of philosopher David Hume’s famous denial of the long-alleged supremacy of ‘human’ rationality over ‘animal’ emotionality with his famous declaration that ‘reason is the slave of the passions.’

In other words, in my burning desire to see some vengeance wreaked on Bashar al-Assad and his fellow Syrial killers for the countless lives and livelihoods they’ve stolen and trashed over the past seven years in the cause of clinging to power, I foolishly allowed my heart to leap in response to the missile strike Trump recently ordered, and thus, at least for a moment, lost my head.

But little by little, thank goodness, I’ve started coming back to my senses. In the process asking myself such questions as ‘if Trump’s such a dead-set humanitarian as to care about the poison-gassing of Syrian children, and Muslim Syrian children at that, how come he never, ever showed any sign of such compassion before?’

And ‘how could he possibly think of so seriously jeopardizing the affair of the heart, head and above all of mutual self-love, that he’s so strangely long shared with the al-Assad regime’s great partner in its war-crimes, Russian President Vladimir Putin?’

This latter question inevitably led to my first moment of wondering whether I should stop celebrating Trump’s deployment of Cruise missiles, and starting to suspect that they were really ruse missiles.

Weapons of not only mass deception to convince the world that, despite all previous evidence to the contrary, Trump cares a damn about anybody but himself, but also weapons of mass distraction from disturbing suspicions that the massively corrupt and power-mad Putin regime conspired with Trump’s supporters in helping him achieve the US presidency.

In light of these considerations, it’s terribly tempting, indeed almost too utterly tempting for words, to wonder whether the entire affair has been a con cooked-up between Trump and Putin for their mutual political benefit.

Putin pretends to be hopping-mad at the attack on his ally, and thus has another opportunity to present himself as the strong if wrong leader that the majority of Russian people perversely appear to prefer, while Trump, despite his endlessly-stated intentions to embrace isolationism, both gets to look strong and statesmanlike on the international stage, and generates more domestic support for his plan to cut back on social expenditure and squander even more squillions of dollars on the US’s already-obscenely-bloated military-industrial complex.

So far, I grant you, most of the world appears to be accepting this whole Cruise/ruse missile affair at face value. But no worries. I’m perfectly prepared to be perceived as some kind of paranoid conspiracy theorist as long as it takes for future unfolding events, as they surely will, to reveal the whole thing as a sham and a scam, and thus yet another triumph for Trump-style fake news.

 

 

 

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Word wars 2.

In the 15 years or so since I wrote my first column on this topic (recently re-posted on my blog, in case you’re interested, at https://deanjohns.wordpress.com), I’ve fought and lost so many verbal battles that it often strikes me that if I had any sense I should have conceded defeat by now.

And in some ways I guess I have. Total failure in my fight against the forces waging guerrilla and gorilla wars in Africa, the Muddle East and elsewhere has disabused me of any belief in the alleged wisdom, or, given that it’s evidently based on nothing but wishful thinking, wishdom, that the pen is mightier than the sword.

More dire still has been my discovery, in the course of a decade spent decrying the corruption and other evils of Malaysia’s ever-ruling Umno/BN regime, and witnessing this situation only go from bad to worse and now utterly woeful, that the pen is not even mightier than the sordid.

As depressing as my reverses have been, however, and as many times as I’ve thus thought of giving-up fighting fiction posing as fact by the writing of faction and friction, I find I’m hopelessly addicted to it.

Addicted not so much to frontally attacking the forces of error and evil with barrages, bombardments and blitzkriegs of words, but to sabotaging, defusing or disarming the very words they use as weapons against the rest of us.

As weapons ranging from literal booby-traps like ‘bye-election’, which in Umno/BN’s Malaysia, as years ago I was delighted to point-out to the intended boobies it was supposed to entrap was actually, considering all the regime bribery involved in it, literally a ‘buy-election’; to intercontinental misguiding verbal missiles like ‘people’s’ and ‘democratic.’

As I mentioned many years ago in a Malaysiakini column entitled ‘Wronged words’, the term ‘people’s’ in the official name of a nation is a dead-set certain sign that its government is at war with both its people and the truth, and so is the word ‘democratic’.

Thus North Korea, currently the apparently leading contender for the title of the world’s most dick-headed dictatorship, wages an especially vicious version of the word wars by billing itself as not just ‘democratic’ or the ‘people’s’, but both.

Umno/BN’s Malaysia, on the other hand, as discussed at some length in a long-ago Malaysiakini column titled ‘Democracy with a difference’, wages a more covert war against its democracy-, justice- and rights-deprived citizens by claiming to be rather than naming itself ‘democratic’.

So it gave me a good deal of satisfaction to counter-attack against this sneak-attack on reality by contending that, far from genuinely democratic, Umno/BN-dominated Malaysia is a domocracy designed for the greater benefit of one race, and thus also a dermocracy.

It is also as racked by ruling-regime corruption and criminality as any other of the world’s virtually countless kleptocracies, dimocracies and dumbocracies.

And as if Malaysians weren’t casualties enough of the word wars to be going on with, the Umno/BN regime keeps fooling the Malaysian people by fueling an apparently endless war over the word ‘secular’, which is what the country’s constitution supposedly is.

In the latest episode in this conflict, which is clearly designed to keep opposition parties and sectors of the populace at each others’ throats, the regime is pretending to consider a piece of legislation known as Act 355 proposed by hard-core Islamic party PAS, or, as I can’t help thinking of it, PUS, for the purpose of making penalties more severe for Muslims who offend against Shariah law.

As the dominant regime Party, Umno, is composed entirely of Muslims dedicated to privileging the Muslim majority of the populace, it seems to me that the government of Malaysia, such as it is, is already not so much secular as what could justly be called sectular.

Not to mention sickular, as currently evidenced by the proposal in parliament by some Umno MP that female Muslim victims of statutory or even forcible rape should be permitted (or encouraged or even forced?) to marry their attackers, and that marriage should be permitted with Muslim girls as young as nine who are sufficiently physically mature for their age.

Of course I and most of my comrades engaged in the word wars with the ruling regime see this and similar verbal skirmishes about other such atrocities as attempts to divert hostile fire away from its most obviously tempting target, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Whose government, be it secular, secular, sickular, or even just plain ular, as many consider symbolised by the apparent two-headed snake in the Umno party symbol, is seen by most Malaysians as most certainly suckular, given that Najib and his accomplices are strongly suspected of ceaselessly sucking as much of the nation’s wealth into their pockets and purses as possible.

As indeed, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent or at least in a more legal manner, are the members, supporters and cronies of the legitimately-elected governments around the world that consider themselves ‘right-wing’.

Politics is the point at which the class wars and word wars coalesce, of course. So that those of us who deplore the ever-widening gulf between the rich and poor, greedy and needy, capitalists and workers, or as two successive right-wing Australian treasurers have tried to falsify this vicious false binary, ‘lifters and leaners’ and ‘taxed and taxed-nots’, consider the right wing precisely the wrong wing.

And by extension, as I’ve blogged recently, the so-called ‘Christian right’, in light of the fact that they self-interestedly pervert, or, if you prefer, double-cross Christian ethics in favour of their crass self-interest, are actually the Crasstian wrong.

In short, or in summary, my strategy for keeping on fighting on the side of right (as distinct from right- or in other words wrong-wing) in the never-ending word wars is to take all the terms the enemy has trashed, convert them into their true versions and fire them back.

In other words, even if I have no way of outgunning the forces of fear, ignorance and greed, I can have endless fun outpunning them.

 

 

 

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