A Publication of Seth J. Frantzman
December 1st, 2007
This weeks newsletter is a slightly expanded version of the normal one. It includes a book review as well as a philosophical essay, a critique of an advertising campaign and two essays on foreign countries: South Africa and Malaysia. I strongly encourage the readers to download the attachment because one of the articles includes a picture.
Men, Irresponsibility and the law: Cultures that encourage men to be irresponsible should not be surprised when their irresponsibility leads to law breaking and catastrophe and at the same time creates a nation of men who blame others for their own problems.
Through their Eyes? A new advertising campaign by the Guardian says much about how leftists and post-humanists view the world.
If Zuma wins, South Africa will die: Jacob Zuma is a threat to South Africa and the world should pay more attention to the fact that he is likely to be the country’s next president.
The other shoe drops: Malaysia: Malaysia is not an exotic diverse country with a free market that all can love, it is a racist country that should be shunned by tourists and the media.
Tolerance and empire: a review of Day of Empire by Amy Chua: Ms. Chua has crafted an interesting thesis: empires that base themselves on tolerance last longer and are bigger and better than those that base themselves on intolerance. The basis of her book is a complete fabrication of the evidence and even if it weren’t, who would want more empires?
Men, Irresponsibility and the law
Seth J. Frantzman
November 28th, 2007
Israeli law requires that every large apartment complex that is constructed and every neighborhood must have a bomb shelter. This has been the law since the 1991 gulf war when scuds fired by Saddam Hussein rained down on the country. In 2006 when Israel and Hezbollah went to war thousands of rockets fired by Hezbollah similarly rained down on the north of the country. When two Arab boys were killed by one of these rockets in Nazareth the media was quick to point out that Israeli racism was the true cause of their death. The Arab communities in Northern Israel didn't have the same number of bomb shelters per-person as the Jewish communities. For newspapers this comparison led to the obvious conclusion that racism must be behind this. No one ever asked why, for 15 years, the Arab construction companies that built houses in Nazareth and the city council of Nazareth never bothered to conform their buildings to Israeli law, despite being a city in Israel. The truth is they choose to break the law, the Israeli authorities did not enforce the law, because of fear of provoking or inciting Arabs to riot, and thus there were not enough bomb shelters.
On November 24th two Arab boys were riding around the streets of their suburban community outside Paris. They were riding a small dirt bike that was not 'street legal'. Furthermore they were riding without helmets, ignoring traffic signs and riding with two people on a bike designed for one. When they crashed into a police car, after having ignored a stop light, and they were both killed, their neighborhood immediately erupted in riots. Rioters declared 'this is war' and 'the policeman brought this on themselves, we will not stop until two policeman are dead.' The logic behind this is simple. Like the bomb shelters in Nazareth, there is a perception both by the community and by the press and by everyone else that breaking the law is not the problem, but if one dies because of their own actions, then it is the fault of the government and it must be due to racism.
In the film the Nanny Diaries which was based on the book by the same name, the protagonist opines that "male monogamy remains an elusive and much mythologized trait." She goes on to wax romantic about how exotic Bedouin men take more wives to show their power and that mistresses in France are 'de rigueur'. Its not a surprise to see a film passing itself off as feministic supplying the message that women should be pieces of meat discarded when the time seems right by men who use them as one uses a toilet. But there is a deeper question here. Monogamy may not be inherently natural to males, but what does it say about a society that encourages and celebrates the listlessness and irresponsibility of uncontrolled men who are not asked to live up to any standards of behavior?
Societies that encourage men to be polygamous or encourage them to take mistresses are destined to end up as societies that have irresponsible men. This is because the males are not requested to practice any form of self-denial. These traits of the male who has no responsibility are best on display in the most westernized and most Islamisized places. Whether it is the position of women as depicted on Fashion TV, or the position of women in Saudi Arabia, the same message is clear for the men of these cultures: do as you please, you do not have to obey any rules, you are a man, the women is but your beast, beat her, rape her, kill her if she displeases you, you are the man, you have no responsibility.
It is no surprise that the relation of man to personal responsibility is directly proportional to his amount of boasting, his ostentatious behavior and his cowardliness. Irresponsible men are at the same time arrogant and cowardly, they are the ones most likely to curse others and the ones most likely to get angry over their perception that their pride has been insulted or that they have been humiliated. They will be the first to take offense and the first to give offense. Needless to say, they will also be the first to disregard laws and the first to blame others when their disregard of the law causes them injury.
There is a direct connection between the Paris riots, the lack of bomb shelters in Nazareth, the lack of responsibility among men in those places, and their quickness to blame others, even to demand that others be murdered for their own irresponsibility, and the fact that their society has a disrespectful attitude towards women combined with an attitude that encourages men to do whatever they want whenever they want.
Saudi Arabia has set its personal goal of putting a stop to the licentious opulent decadence of the west. What may be of the greatest surprise to the teetotaling Muslim Islamist is that his peers have already beaten him to the west and have collaborated with and transformed it into the very palace of irresponsibility that they themselves have crafted in their own culture. The greatest question that should be posed to all mankind is 'who do I blame for my misfortune'? If the answer is anything but oneself then someone should then ask themselves 'who do I blame for cheating on my wife?' and if the answer is again anyone but oneself then one might find themselves at home in the Paris suburbs, Saudi Arabia, Nazareth, or any mosque or bordello in the world.
Through their Eyes?
Seth J. Frantzman
November 20th, 2007
There is a new brilliant advertising campaign that has been launched recently by the Guardian. It is entitled ‘through their eyes’ and is being placed on their webpages as well as others. The add is made up of five slides. The first three have the same basic theme. They show a person’s eye and the facial area around the eye. But the eye and face are transparent and beyond it we see what this person is seeing. We are thus seeing ‘through their eyes.’ The fourth frame declares in bold purple letters “see the world through their eyes.” The fifth frame adds to this, declaring “the Guardian weekly global network; first person accounts, analysis and discussion, theguardianweekly.co.uk.
The premise is that we are being shown the world ‘through their eyes.’ But what are we really being shown? The images depicted in the advertisement give a good idea of what world we are being exposed to. The first frame is of a white man with Henry Kissinger glasses. We see in the distance an anti-war rally which he no doubt is participating in. The next frame is an Arab woman wearing the niqab, or full face veil, which is obvious because we only see the world through a tiny slit which obscures all but her eye. But through this slit we see a fire burning, no doubt because she is in the midst of the Israeli occupation or the Iraq war. The third frame seems to be of a black man wearing giant protective goggles or Elvis Presley shades. Through his eyes we see a woman, perhaps black, crying and holding a child, who has no doubt been killed or is ding of famine.
The world we are being exposed to is not just the world that the BBC also exposes us to, where the situation is always describes as being the ‘worst’ or ‘most horrific’, but it is also the world of the liberal. Thus while we are shown the extreme right wing Islamist, we also see her collaborator in the west, the pacifist man in the anti-war parade. The role of the African, as the role of Africa in the world, is not quite clear, but his view is nevertheless miserable and certainly must inspire us to give more money to Oxfam or Live8, or Bono.
This idea of seeing the world ‘through their eyes’ is a hoax. We are not being exposed to 99% of the world. We are being exposed instead to the liberal world. We are seeing the world through the eyes of a liberal. What is particularly brilliant about this advertisement is that it expresses exactly the liberal worldview in a nutshell. The liberal has a certain view of the world. But because of his moral-relativism he knows that he must view the world through the cultural frames of the other. Thus he takes his world view, and smushes it through the eyes of the other and creates this transparent lens, the eyes of the other, whereby he still sees the world he wants, only now it is distorted by the eyes of the other. This is all too apparent in the causes liberal post-humanists promote in the west. They support radical Islamists and right wing fascists such as Nick Griffin, David Irving and Mahmud Ahmadinjed. They support dictators such as Chavez and Castro and they support terrorists and nationalists such as the Palestinians. But at home they support gay rights, abortion and they protest nationalism and the death penalty. They support anti-Semitism abroad but talk about their love for the ‘Jews’ at home. They support ethnic-cleansing abroad and at home they support diversity. They speak out against globalization abroad but they love their neighborhood Ethiopian restaurant their friend Viveck at the corner market. They read books on Atheism by Chris Hitchens at home but they attend mosque to show their tolerance, with their friends Mohamed and Aisha.
So the Guardian is inadvertently showing us exactly what the liberal worldview is. The liberal view is of a world in which they pretend to look through the eyes of others but they only selectively see and filter through what they want. They see the dead Palestinian children, they see the racist American soldier, they see the starving African child, and they see their anti-Zionist professor whose ‘free speech’ is being silenced by a Jewish lobby.
But what don’t they see? They don’t see 99% of the world. They don’t see the world through the eyes of a Dinka tribesmen whose Christian family has been murdered and whose daughter has been sold into slavery by an Arab from Khartoum. They don’t see the world through the eyes of a Tutsi farmer who has gone to the Congo to track down the Hutus who murdered his family while the world sat silent. They don’t see the world through the eyes of the Serb refugees thrown out of Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo by the west and their collaborators in the Balkan wars. They don’t see the world through the eyes of a poor Sephardic Jewish family living in Sderot whose roof has been destroyed by a Palestinian fired Kassam rocket. They don’t their see world through the eyes of Hindus or Sikhs or Buddhists. They don’t see the world through the eyes of Catholics (or Christians for that matter), unless they are from Northern Ireland. They don’t see the world through the eyes of Armenians or Copts or Ethiopians.
If you did a mental map of the mind of a liberal and whose eyes he sees the world through and you then composed a world based solely on those whose eyes the liberal looks through and those he has compassion for and those he hates then the world would be composed of 4 billion Muslims(2 billion of whome are women, refugees and children), 500 million jack boot wearing, blue eyed, shaved-headed, Israeli male soldiers, 1.5 billion Palestinians, 500 million starving black Africans, 10 million ‘Christian fundamentalists’, 10 million ‘Hindu nationalists’, 10 million Israeli settlers, 10 million ‘right wing racist xenophobic irredentist fascist extremists’, 3 members of a Serbian Human Rights Organization and Anna Poblovskaya.
Luckily we do not live in such a world. Luckily we have billions of Chinese, Indians and smiling Mexicans, none of whome are ever noticed by the Guardian or the BBC, who remind us everyday that we don’t live under the black flag of Islam yet and we don’t all have to listen to the wail of the minaret yet and we don’t have to all go volunteer to teach Africans how to plant corn, yet, and our society isn’t neatly broken down into ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘racist Israeli settlers’ yet and, most of all, we don’t all have to go on an ‘exotic’ pilgrimage to Mecca and call Mohammed a ‘prophet’ yet.
If Zuma wins, South Africa will die
Seth J. Frantzman
November 28th, 2007
8 Maon #9
The author is Jerusalem based writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all those in the west that couldn't help but love the tender, mild, Nelson Mandel, they could be forgiven for not knowing who Jacob Zuma is. He was born in Ikandla, in kwa-Zulu in 1942, six years before the National party's victory that ensured Aparthied would become the official legal system of South Africa. Despite being a Zulu from the Msholozi clan he joined the ANC in 1959, setting himself on a track that would differ from many of his tribe. His big break came in 1963 when he was arrested outside Zeerust in the Transvaal with 45 members of an ANC militia and he was sentenced to 10 years on Robben island for conspiring to overthrow the government. After release from prison, where he become close with Mandela, he traveled to Mozambique and then Zambia serving on the ANC national Executive Committee and as head of 'Underground Structures', the terrorist wing of the ANC.
Since 1990 his star has done nothing but rise. He played a key role in ending viscious fighting between the ANC and Mangosutho Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom party, a Zulu nationalist political party. He has served as Chairman of the ANC in Kwa-Zulu Natal and deputy President of the ANC. Today he is poised, with the backing of some two-thirds of the ANC to become the next leader of the party and thus, most probably, the next president of South Africa.
But there are many skeletons in the closet of Mr. Zuma that should make South Africa, Africa and the west wary of his climb to the top. Besides his terrorist background (a song sung at his rallies refers to bringing Zuma his machine gun, a throwback to his days as a 'freedom fighter') there is the fact that he has somewhere between two and five wives and at least 18 children. His first wife Sizakele still lives in his home town. His second wife, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who he divorced in 1998 was minister of foreign affairs for South Africa. His third wife, Kate committed suicide in 2000.
There are also the rape allegations and the corruption charges. Zuma was relieved of his position as Deputy president of the ANC by his former friend Tahbo Mbeki in 2005. In the same year he was charged with rape. In response to the allegations, amid rallies by his Zulu supporters, he noted that the woman in question, an AIDs awareness campaigner, had uncrossed her legs at a meeting with him, a sure sign that he was 'forced' to have sex with her. Furthermore he noted that he had taken a shower afterward to prevent himself from contracting AIDs. In 2006 he was found not-guilty of rape. In November of 2007 he received the endorsement of the ANC women's league, despite the fact that he was a rapist and probably masauginist.
But it only gets worse. Zuma's candidacy will split the Zulu vote in South Africa, and the ANC party base which is made up traditionally of the non-Zulu tribes of the country, such as the Xhosa, will support him, leaving the opposition to be composed of a significantly weakened IFP and the Democratic Alliance, which is mostly a party of South African whites with some Indians, blacks and Coloureds thrown in.
In truth there is only one party in South Africa, the ANC. The National assembly is composed of 400 seats, of which the ANC has 290. The Democratic Alliance has 47 and the IFP only 23. The UDM, which was founded by an Afrikaner, Roelf Meyer and the Xhosa Bantu Holomisa, the former leader of the Transkei under Apartheid, has only six seats, but is the fourth largest party in the country. There are another 11 parties in the National Assembly that have less than 6 members each including a parties for Indians(Minority Front), an Afrikaner party(Freedom Front), a Coloured party(Independent Democrats) and two Christian based parties(African Christian Democratic Party, United Christian Democratic Party). As was the case in Mexico between 1920 and 2000, one political party, the PRI, governed the country in a form of dictatorship. The same was the case in Italy when the Christian Democratic party ruled the country from 1945 to 1994. South Africa does not have a chance of having a real opposition until the ANC destroys itself or splits apart.
But the threat of Zuma may be more than continued ANC rule. His threat may entail a continued deterioration in the society of South Africa, rise in crime, further blandishments of propaganda by the government, attempts to control the media (already Mbeki has attempted to purchase the newspapers of his critics and curtail free speech on the internet while Zuma sued every paper that printed allegations of his rape), and a further slide towards Zimbabweazation of South Africa. Recent high profile crimes, such as the killing of mining magnate Brett Kebble in 2005 and reggae artist Lucky Dube in 2007 perhaps forseshadow worse to come. Although Time Magazine, always known for its brilliant insights into international affairs and foreign countries, opined that Dube's death was "another reminder of the violence fueled by ongoing social inequality". This may reflect Time's ignorance of the race of Dube, he was black, and instead reflect what the world wants to believe about South Africa. Social inequality is supposed to equal crime. According to that logic Zuma may be the right choice for pluralist, progressive South Africa, despite his gay bashing and raping and his multiple wives and his machine gun, he may succeed in doing to South Africa what Robert Mugabe has done so well for Zimbabwe; he may make everyone equal in their poverty, thus ending the social inequality and ending all crime. He will do what Communism has succeeded in doing elsewhere: making us all equally poor and wretched.
Lo mthondo wakho udal’inyakanyaka, Awuleth Umshini wami
The other shoe drops: Malaysia
Seth J. Frantzman
November 27th, 2007
Malaysia does not evoke images of Islam or Islamism in our minds. We are accustomed to think of Malaysia as one of the 'little tigers' of Asia, a promising Asian democracy, like Singapore, full of splendor and wealth and a robust free market. This image, one constructed from the stock exchange at Kaula Lumpur and the famous Petronas towers, obscures the illness and racial-religious evils lurking beneath the surface of this country.
Malaysia's history is not unique. Its people were once Buddhists and Hindus with a great deal of influence from India and China. But its population was made up primarily of Malays, an ethnic group that differs greatly from its neighbors. When Islam came to Asia the Malays embraced the religion as a way to gain independence and primacy over their neighbors. Thus the country became split, like so many others, along ethnic and religious lines. The Malays became Muslims and the Chinese remained Buddhist. With colonialism this ethnic-religious divide only became more pronounced. The Chinese, balking at their colonial masters, the British, became ardent Communists, like their brothers to the north in mainland China. The Malays, who had been viewed as a 'martial race' by the British were only to happy to be recruited into the British trained local militia to hunt down their non-Muslim, non-Malay Communist enemies. Beginning in 1945 a full Communist scale insurgency rocked the country and the British unleashed the Malays against the Chinese minority leading to large scale ethnic cleansing. By 1957, with the Communists destroyed and many hundreds of thousands of Chinese peasants murdered or resettled, the country was granted independence. In 1963 it was joined in a federation by Singapore and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Following further Malaysian riots in 1965 against ethnic Chinese the city-state of Singapore decided to quit the federation, based on the fact that Singapore was primarily a Chinese city and its leader Lee Kuan Hew did not appreciate the fact that the Malaysian government ignored the wide scale anti-Chinese riots, and the fact that the Malay majority armed forces refused to protect the Chinese. The same year, 1965 witnessed the murder of 500,000 ethnic Chinese in Indonesia by the Muslim regime of Suharto and the massacre of 200,000 Catholic East-Timorese. Although completely ignored by the outside world the years 1965-1967 in Asia were one long series of bloodbaths committed by Muslim regimes against non-Muslims in the name of ridding their country's of 'Communism.' Until today most scholarship on this fact has been blurred by the racial components of the ethnic-cleansing.
Between 1965 and the present the overriding concern of every Malaysian leader has been the preservation of the Malay grip on power and the suppression of all the minorities in the country, despite the fact that the Malays are only 50% of the population of the country. In fact the mass killings of Chinese have been directed to insure that the Malays make up greater than 50% of the country. According to recent statistics the Chinese make up only 23% while Indians make up 8% and 'indigenous' people make up another 7% and 'others' make up 7%. Religiously the country today is reported to be 60% Muslim, 20% Buddhist, 9% Christian and 6% Hindu.
Mahathir Bin Mohammed who ran the country as Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003 was credited with liberalizing the economy. For this he gained kudos in the west. But many people did not notice that his free market reforms did notog hand in hand with liberalizing civil society in general. Mahathir was no liberal. At the tenth Islamic Summit conference in Putrajaya (whose name betrays the non-Islamic history of the country), Malaysia on October 16th, 2003 the Prime Minister noted that:
" The Muslims will forever be oppressed and dominated by the Europeans and the Jews. It cannot be that there is no other way. 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. There must be a way. We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. "
This was not the first such utterance by the esteemed Prime Minister of a modern state. In regards to Christians:
" Europeans, nominally at least are Christians and as Christians their old enmity towards Islam in particular still color their thinking (BBC Monitoring, June 4, 2003.)"
In regards to Sept. 11:
"If the Arabs who before were not terrorists are today willing to commit suicide in order to fight against the Israelis or Americans, there must be a reason for it. And the reason is that they feel that Americans and the Jews and the Europeans have been unjust to them." (BBC Monitoring, December 13, 2002.)"
Following the collapse of the stock exchange in Kuala Lumpur he noted that " We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews, but in reality it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge, and coincidentally [George] Soros is a Jew. It is also a coincidence that Malaysians are mostly Moslem. Indeed, the Jews are not happy to see Moslems progress."
Like so many Muslim leaders he noted in September of 1986 that Jews in Israel had been "apt pupils of the late Dr. Goebbels." But in 1994 with the release of Shindlers List Malaysia banned the movie on the grounds that "it seems the illustration is propaganda with the purpose of asking for sympathy, as well as to tarnish the other [German] race." Like others he was unable to see the contradiction between insulting a country by comparing it to Nazi Germany and then at the same time denying the actions of the Nazis.
Hatred of Jews is usually a harbinger of worse things to come. But Mahathir's comments in 2003 were ignored. A picture captioned 'Malaysia is a multi-ethnic society with a range of faiths' was used to illustrate the 2002 BBC story entitled 'Malaysian state passes Islamic law.' The Islamic Party of Malaysia has gained further inroads in states such as Kelantan and Terengganu in the northeast of the country. Since 1993 there has been increasing Islamization across the country, including state laws enforcing dress codes and forcing women and men to stand in separate isles in supermarkets and enforcing death by stoning for adultery. Needless to say, as in all Islamic states, the only people ever convicted of adultery are women.
A recent case in which a Malay woman wanted to convert to Christianity in order to marry a Chinese man was struck down by the supreme court. According to the ruling a Malay could not convert from Islam to any other religion, a law modeled on Islamic law in most countries which makes apostasy illegal.
But religious discrimination, anti-semitism and Islamism is only one aspect of Malaysia. The other is the institutionalize racism that has been in place since independence in 1957. Under the guise of 'empowering' the Malaysian majority the government instituted a 'Malays first' affirmative action policy. Unlike in the West where affirmative action refers to the process of giving minorities greater access to jobs and education by discriminating against the majority, the Malaysian system gives the majority special opportunities and ensures that when they are up against a minority for a job they will receive the job. In most countries racism by the majority may ensure that the minority remains on the fringes of society, but in Malaysia the racism of the majority is enshrined in the legal system of the country.
On November 25th protests by ethnic Tamils broke out demanding equality and better treatment. These Tamils make up the majority of the Indians in Malaysia, who are 8% of the population. They also happen to be Hindu and therefore suffer the double discrimination of not being Malay and not being Muslim. Malaysia dealt with the protests by arresting the leaders, using water cannons to disperse them and threatening to embark on martial law, in a reply of the prelude to the ethnic cleansing of Chinese that took place in the 1950s.
It is no surprise that there will not be any condemnations of Malaysia in the west. The U.N will not condemn the treatment of these protestors. Neighboring Burma was singled out by the west and the U.N for condemnation, but Burma is a Buddhist country. Malaysia, like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and almost all Muslim countries, is coddled by the West despite rampant human rights abuses, racism and religious discrimination. This is the modus operendi of the world. There are tourist boycotts of Burma, but not of Iran or Malaysia or the UAE. Malaysia is, after all, in the West's twisted was of seeing things, 'exotic'. Dictatorship, racism, and religious fanaticism are today's positive romantic and exotic images of the world. Any nation that does not include them, any nation that does not discriminate against women, is not on the tourist destination of the western elites or western college students. So it should be no surprise that Malaysia's fascist policies, and its disgusting regime, are not mentioned in the press and that its policies are never critiqued by the world. In fact the western press makes sure to frame the argument so that the Malaysian government comes out in a positive light.
Those who protest are described as "right-wing Hindu nationalist" by the Boston Globe(Monday, Nov. 26th, 2007, 'Malaysia's racial lines'). The protestors are mocked for being 'racist' because there is a 'racial dimension' to their protesting. The former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is quoted as saying "They should be more inclusive…We must champion the cause of the poor of all races not just Indians." Westerners eat this up with glee and they come away thinking that it is the 'right wing' who is racist and is protesting against the positive affirmative action policies of an inclusive government. It’s a brilliant way to frame something. Its like the way protests are described in the UAE. Protests by foreign workers who make up 80% of the UAE are also described as negative by the western press because the 'minority' Arab elites who control the country and brought all the foreign workers are now being threatened. Only a western newspaper like the Boston Globe could turn things around. But perhaps the Boston Globe writers should ask themselves if it is logical that the majority in America, whites, should receive affirmative action and if the minority, blacks, were to protest such discrimination, if they should be described as 'racist' merely for protesting. Who is the racist when the majority who are only 51% of a country forces its religious beliefs upon an entire country, when the government pays for religious pilgrimages for the 51% but not the other 49%, when the 51% receive special government sponsored jobs and benefits and scholarships and schooling, while the 49% do not, when the 51% get to have states where their religious law is the law, and the 49% get nothing, when the 51% ensure that supermarkets are divided between men and women and women are arrested for 'immoral behavior' and yet the 49% does not desire such laws. Only a left wing newspaper such as the Boston Globe could frame such a debate in a way where the minority, the 49% came off as the 'right wing' and the 'racist' and the majority which is discriminating comes off as the victim. One just hopes that the next time blacks march somewhere in America for some cause that the Boston Globe will describe the Black minority as 'racist' and 'right wing' for demanding equal rights. But like the BBC, the very comment that Malaysia is a 'multi-ethnic' society is supposed to make us think 'oh, its diverse, it’s a utopian model, how wonderful, its multi-cultural.' But once again we have seen how the mere existence of 'diversity' leads the commentator to assume that this society is positive. But Malaysia's diversity is like all diversity in Islamic countries, it exists at the bottom of society, marginalized, raped and abused, and should it protest it is imprisoned and murdered. It would be nice to see the likes of the BBC just once describe the American South in 1840 as 'diverse' and 'multi-cultural' because the American South had other races, such as blacks. Just because a country has lots of little minorities doesn’t mean that country is a just country. Malaysia is the prime example of a country where diversity and injustice go hand in hand.
Tolerance and empire: a review of Day of Empire by Amy Chua
November 24th, 2007
Seth J. Frantzman
Amy Chua’s Day of Empire presents an interesting thesis, namely that tolerant empires succeed and they fail when they become intolerant. She surveys Persia, Rome, Tang China, the Dutch empire, the British empire and the United States in her quest to prove that intolerance and close-mindedness have led empires to fall. Other reviewers were only too happy to see this thesis proved. Robert Kaplan at the Atlantic Monthly loved it. Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War writes enthusiastically that “great power lies in the ability to attract and assimilate, rather than to coerce or intimidate.” Amitai Etzioni, author of Security First notes that the “future cannot afford to ignore” this book. Niall Ferguson notes that “her ingenious thesis [is] that religious and racial tolerance was a prerequisite for global dominance, but also the slow solvent of that cultural "glue" which holds a great nation together.”
This is all very nice. We always like to see that what we want to believe is actually true, in this case that our current love for multi-culturalism actually means we will be a great empire and that ‘intolerance’ ala Bush will result in decline and catastrophe. If only we can be more like Rome and Britain and the Dutch and Islam and the Mongols and the Persians. Yes, they should be our model.
There are a number of major flaws in this thesis and they must be put on the table to illustrate just how far fetched this line of thinking is. First of all, not all tolerance loving peoples became excellent imperialists. In many cases they were crushed beneath the feet of their intolerant neighbors. The Xhosa and to a greater extent the San and Kokhoi of South Africa were reasonably tolerant. By contrast, their Dutch, British and Zulu neighbors rolled over them and subjugated them with ease. The Pasqua-Yaqui Indians of Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico were perfectly nice peaceful people. It is no surprise that their Apache neighbors and later the Mexicans and Americans had no trouble crushing them. The Black tribes of the Sudan have been peaceful nice folk for two thousand years, and for 1500 of those years they have been enslaved and murdered and slaughtered by Muslim Arab tribes that have penetrated and colonized their country. The Aboriginals of Australia were perfectly friendly and we all know where it got them, in contrast to the Maori’s of New Zealand who were especially vicious and have maintained their independence to a greater degree. One might remark on the differing fates of the Buddhists of Afghanistan, who no longer exist, and the Sikhs of the Punjab, one a religion of niceness, the other a religion that mandates each male carry a sword to protect himself.
But if tolerance doesn’t necessarily lead to expansion and empire then certainly Ms. Chua has proved that tolerant empires have always been successful. Or have they? The impact of Alexander on the civilizations he conquered was weakened by the fact that the Greeks were an overly tolerant people and Alexander was more interested in chronicling the people he had conquered than on bringing his way of life to them. It may be no surprise that with the exception of Alexandria (The Egyptian city being but one of dozens of such Alexandrias he founded), his mark has mostly been forgotten. The Mongols also were overly tolerant of the religions and customs of the people they conquered. It is why after a few generations they were absorbed into all of them and their empire disappeared.
But if tolerant empires have not always succeeded and tolerant people have not usually become good imperialists, then Ms. Chua must at least be correct in her assertion that the empires she was examined did indeed rise out of tolerance and fall due to intolerance. The evidence for this is scratchy at best, contradictory at worst. Rome was a tolerant society only insofar as it had lots of different people under its control. However Rome completely destroyed the civilizations of the people it conquered. From Carthage where it killed 90% of the people and sold the remaining 50,000 into slavery, to Gaul where it depopulated the entire country, to Spain and Anatolia where it did the same, to Judea where it killed two thirds of the Jewish people. Where was the tolerance in this empire? It didn’t include minorities in its government and only late in life did it use them in its army, and then only so they would die on campaign so ordinary Romans could enjoy the good life. By what stretch of the imagination was this a ‘tolerant’ empire? It massacred Jews and Christians throughout its dominions. Ahh, but we are told that Rome fell because of intolerance. Perhaps the persecutions of the Christians were the last gasp of a close-minded empire. But evidence does not bare this out either. The last hundred years of the western empire were ones in which non-Romans were the vast majority in Rome and which all manner of non-Roman peoples and religions began to overrun the empire. The army was completely composed of non-Romans by this time. In fact the last, pathetic, hundred years of the empire were the most diverse and it has led scholars such as Gibbon to conclude that this was exactly the cause of the empire’s fall.
What of the Persian empire. Where was the tolerance here? When Persia was fed up with the Jews it deported most of them to Babylon and destroyed the ten tribes of the north in the Kingdom of Israel. But the Jews were the just the tip of the iceberg of the peoples Persia relocated and attempted to exterminate. In fact Persia built its imperial ambitions on destroying native cultures and resettling loyal people in newly conquered parts of the empire. Persia understood all too well that tenacious local people would undermine her hegemony, so she had an efficient system of Stalin like resettlement programs to make the empire stronger and to confuse locals by resettling them far away from their environments. If this is tolerance, then what is intolerance. Persia also had slavery, surely another mark of tolerance.
The Dutch and British empire were also tolerant only to the extent that they had lots of diverse peoples under their control. Neither the Dutch nor the British empire fell because they became intolerant. The Dutch were no more intolerant in 1939, on the eve of the conquest of Dutch Indonesia by the Japanese, than they were in 1600 when they began empire building. The British by contrast became more and more tolerant in the 20th century. They invited many of the people from their empire to study in England. Men such as Gandhi and Nkrumah learned about civil right and self determination in England. In fact, it was this enlightenment that led them to found resistance movements. England’s expansion of education to the locals led directly to the fall of her empire. However prior to that the British empire was hardly tolerant. Before it outlawed slavery it was engaged in the slave trade. British colonists in Australia and the Americas decimated the native tribes. In fact, the most tolerant periods of British rule came after the empire banned slavery in the 19th century and began allowing limited home rule, and it was only then that the empire began to decline.
But if Ms. Chua is wrong in claiming that tolerant people make good imperialists, and wrong in the fact that tolerant empires succeed and wrong in claiming that Rome, Persia and Great Britain were so tolerant, then she must at least be correct in asserting that intolerant people are bad imperialists. This doesn’t hold water either.
Most intolerant people have made the best imperialists. The Zulus are but one example. The Islamic empires were all intolerant in the utmost, enslaving people and massacring them wherever they went, and yet every Islamic empire was phenomenally successful, from the Arabs to the Ottomans and the Mughals. Their downfall came at the hands of eachother or less tolerant people such as the Crusaders or the Reconquista. The Spanish empire was also very successful in its early and most intolerant period between 1492 and 1600. However once it banned the enslavement of the Indians and its conquistadors set about inter-mixing with the locals, it was not so long before it declined. How exactly Chua decided that the British empire, where the British never intermarried with local people, was more tolerant than the Spanish empire where they did, is not clear. What is clear is that empires have never been founded on tolerance. The most warlike people, imbued with some fanaticism and efficient accounting systems seem to have made the best imperialists. From Alexander to Genghis, to Fredrick the Great, Shaka Zulu and Mohammed.
We would like to believe that tolerance is good for an empire and that therefore America should be more tolerant and her empire will grow. But tolerance has little to do with success in this arena. The most intolerant states are frequently successful, Saudi Arabia is but one example, but overly intolerant states such as Nazi Germany seem to burn themselves to death in their own feasts of blood. Tolerant states don’t seem to have any chance of success in the imperial arena. But that may be ok news. America never had pretensions of empire. In fact those who are continually condemning the American empire are mostly fighting a straw man. There is no American empire, certainly not in the typical definition of empire. That doesn’t mean America is not a hegemonic power in the world, it is. But empire and power are two different things. In the past one has usually equaled the other. Powerful states have expanded and weaker ones have retreated. Rarely have states been prudent and cautious and kept their power close at hand. Perhaps this is what makes America unique. But intolerant or tolerant at home and abroad, neither may make any difference in the overall success and longevity of American hegemonic power. America is not Rome and she is not the Dutch. She is Islam and she is not the Mongols. Neither were the Greeks like the Chinese. People are different. Rather than projecting our own fads back into the past to prove that our way forward is correct or incorrect we might do well to learn from the past by what it actually is. Therefore rather than labeling Persia tolerant and the late Roman empire intolerant, we might do well to look to them for what they might teach us, rather than pretend that we could have taught them something about being more tolerant and that they, therefore, would have had longer lasting empires. The Roman empire lasted long enough.