Friday, December 5, 2008

Looking at Malaysia through American eyes

Bryan Caplan visited Malaysia:
I only spent three days in Malaysia. I suspect that rural areas would be less moderate than major cities like KL and Malacca. Nevertheless, I think that most Westerners would be shocked by the pluralism and tolerance that I saw.

A commenter note:
Re anti-Semitism, it is actually quite blatant in Malaysia. It's nowhere as public as you might expect, but that's primarily because there are hardly any Jews in the country, so hardly anything spurs a discussion of them. However, the leader of the opposition is often frequently tarred by the ruling party with a number of slurs which should give you an idea of Malaysian taboos - he has been called a homosexual, a Jew-lover, a pawn of the CIA, a pawn of the Chinese/Indians, and a Zionist. While racism is actually pretty blatant throughout Malaysian society, it's so blatant towards the Jews that it is taken for granted. Members of Parliament have frequently raised the issue of the opposition leader's fraternizing with American Jews in Parliament, arguing it clearly disqualifies him from any leadership position. The closest Malaysians have come to a political consensus is that Zionism (and by extension Jews/Judaism) is bad, and that the Iraq war was unjust. (And you'll find plenty of people willing to pin the Iraq war on the Jews/Zionists too.) Zhuge Liang is spot on re the Protocols of Zion, and as a Malaysian, I'm really quite appalled that they are such a staple in our bookstores. The trendy malls in the Kuala Lumpur city centre probably don't stock them, but most bookshops in the suburbs - even small niche operations - carry them.

When we were there last (2007), all I saw were divisions, divisions, divisions - Muslim/Chinese/Indian divisions.

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