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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The boy who cried 'racist'

The Greek philosopher Aristotle was once asked what are the just desserts of those who repeatedly lie.

“That when they speak truth they are not believed,” was his answer as recorded by chronicler Diogenes Laertius in his work, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers.

This moral lesson was later personified more profoundly in one of Aesop’s Fables, The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’.
In that tale, it was told how a bored sheepherder would pass his time playing tricks on local villagers, tricking them by shouting that wolves were attacking his flock.

After running to his aid time and time again, only to find the sheepherder’s sharp laughter greeting their rescue instead of snarling attacking wolves, the villagers decided that enough was enough and vowed to ignore his future cries.

So it passed that one fine day wolves did indeed attack his flock, and he put out such a hue and cry as to rouse the very heavens.

But lo and behold, the villagers ignored his pleas for help, and on that day his flock was destroyed.

Hence was Aristotle’s wisdom retold.

A lesson that one Malaysian politician in particular would do well to heed perhaps, before continuing to sing out his usual rigmarole that old Mc-BN had a farm with a-racism here, a-racism there, a-racism everywhere.

I would agree that a certain strong remark made by a well-known blowhard from the ruling coalition in Parliament recently smacks of heavy-handedness and uncalled-for sentiment.

However, I find no correlation to race, gender or religion in his verbal assault.

What he did was to call for punishment of a prominent activist figure for alleged treasonous activities.

Make no mistake, the prominent activist figure made herself the figurehead and spokesperson of a well-known and hugely successful grassroots movement which threatens to turn the people against what is perceived to be an unjust government.

There are others associated with the movement of course, but there is only one identified both internationally and locally as the lead and chief actor.

If you ask why she is singled out for attack, ask also why she is the only one singled out for foreign honours and awards, why not her other co-chairs?

Only natural to be the target

It is only natural for her to be the target of ruling coalition backbenchers, especially with everyone looking to be winnable candidates for the upcoming polls.

I am not apologising for the BN blowhard, indeed I would join the chorus calling for his censure, but I would also call for a certain shepherd of a northern state to stop painting imaginary demons where they do not exist.

It is bad enough that the ruling coalition continues to use race and religion to divide and play us against each other, it is worse when the very people who claim to be working against racism, use this very same tactic for political capital.

There are already enough grounds to call for the censure of the person who made the uncalled-for remark in Parliament, you don’t need to drag the issue into a racial, religious and gender conundrum.

Please mister shepherd, stop alleging racist elements where they do not exist, or you will be the one responsible for letting loose the wolves of “racism” that will ignite a conflict that may consume and destroy our flock.

HAZLAN ZAKARIA is a member of the Malaysiakini team.

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