A Malaysian Reflection On An American Thanksgiving – OpEd


I have come to appreciate Thanksgiving not only as a non-denominational, non-religious, non-ideological American celebration but also a day to also reflect upon Malaysia, the beloved country I grew up in. It is a time to think about what I observed has worked well here in the Unites States and how they can be applied to the improvement of Malaysia.

Because my passion has always been education and the progress of nations, I believe that there are pitfalls that can be avoided. Let me first begin by presenting a picture of what America is today.

What is ailing corporate America?

It is a troubled nation and still struggling to make the republic work and democracy live its expectation. It is at another juncture of a change of leadership with the yet another intense upcoming campaign for the presidency.

It is not looking good if we look at the candidates pitched for the post of, arguably the most powerful man on Earth. What if Donald Trump wins? Or Jeb Bush? Or Ben Carson? Or even Hillary Clinton? Why not Bernie Sanders? These are the questions Americans are asking about what kind of president they deserve. Americans are already tired. The American Dream has taken a toll on their economic, emotional, and spiritual lives.

It is a troubled nation with troubled schools and youth are angry at the police. The movement of Black Lives Matter is an example of the ever-growing anger of the especially the African-Americans who are feeling not only criminalised but also targeted for profiling and police brutality, especially since the last five years.

It is a troubled nation with its continued massive funding for the state of Israel perhaps to the tune of US$5 billion per year and of the United State government’s blindness to the plight of the Palestinians. Voices protesting American funding of the terror state of Israel, however, are growing in the academia, especially amongst her anthropologists.

It is a troubled nation to when America is said to have indirectly created the Daesh or the Islamic State in the course of the US occupation of Iraq. America lost the war in Iraq and destroyed the country in the process. The Bush Family regime started the destruction which took the lives of a million Iraqis and created the refugee crisis as well as the global terror network.

Looking at today’s crisis viz-a-viz IS, here is a truth – besides from Russia and China, most of the weapons used by IS come from the United States.

It is a troubled nation when her power comes historically and presently as well comes from the barrel of a gun and the perfection of the US military-industrial complex. It is a warmongering country that creates and exacerbates world conflict in order to sell weapons.

Logically, why would one produce better killing machines and tools of destruction if there are no buyers? How would American weapons producers survive the business of mass murder when there are no conflicts to fuel and there is no need to create demand for weapons?

It is a troubled nation when a grand plan to force a predatory investment such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is an agenda forced upon gullible and kowtowing nations such as Malaysia, arm-twisted by President Obama and his backers, namely and primarily the global corporate backers?

These are what form the picture of what America is. At least the ugly side of America run by corporations and one in which the president and the Congress are rubber-stampers of what big businesses want.

Racism , capitalism, and militarism – three golden words or ones carved on blood diamond are what Dr Martin Luther King, Jr warned Americans of, as a nation on the road to destruction.

So, out of these three words and the lesson from the most powerful empire, what should Malaysians learn from?

Advice to Malaysians

It better focus on raising your children well in adjusting to a changing, globalising, and very diversifying Malaysian and global society. We must work harder to improve race relations, be stronger to fight corruption and power abuse, and be more intelligent in designing policies that will benefit the poor, the marginalised and the powerless.

We must teach our children to focus on ways to understand others, improving their English language skills, perfecting their moral compass, encouraging them to think well and good about children of other races and religion, to encourage them to make friends with people of other races, to be grateful that schools offer the great opportunity to love and respect teachers of different races.
Teach them to learn about the dangers of generalising, stereotyping, and projecting hate that would lead to mass deception, to encourage each child to learn about other cultures and religion, and to teach them that all of us in Malaysia are now Malaysians and not this or that group of immigrants.

We all are migrants in time and space and in history and that all of us are human beings with emotions, struggles, challenges, history of joy and despair, memory of pain and pleasure of living, and that all of us are merely of differing skin colour tone and born to speak different languages and to believe in different things about salvation and that we are all travelers in this life.

We cannot allow Malaysia to come to a point in which riots such those race-based against the police to take root. We cannot allow the Malaysian version of #BlackLivesMatter to be the impetus for urban violence.

We are all these and will not need moments of history where we cultivate hate for the bigger picture of oppression we do not understand. We may all be pawns in this great political game of big-time plunderers and multi-ethnic robber-barons skilled at mass deception and distractions. Today, the level of corruption and the growing cases of mass corruption and power abuse that are going unpunished have made Malaysia a critically ill nation.

We should be grateful that we are still alive and breathe daily and that we must think happily and joyfully like Malaysians in order for each and every one of us to prosper in peace. We cannot travel the path of America in which racism is on the rise and of late especially in places such as Texas, Islamophobia is brewing.

Malaysians, we need to come back to our senses. Our strength will still come from diversity and the respect and cultivation of talent. We should have rejoice and celebrate the achievements of this nation for that beautiful concept of unity in diversity; not to organise any rally that spews hatred and invoke the horrors of the May 13, 1969 tragedy.

Let us design a safer journey towards a progressive and harmonious Malaysia, beyond for example, the red T-shirt red-river of blood march of some mangled manufactured propaganda of Malay dignity.

My Thanksgiving wish is to see a saner and more peaceful America as well as Malaysia – two countries I have loved and will continue to love. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, my fellow Americans!

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman is an academician, educator, international columnist, and author of nine books He holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in international education development and Master's degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies, communication, fiction, and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Columbia University chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here. His latest book, a memoir, is published by Penguin Books is available here.

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