Thoughts can actually be absolutely banal because what you value very possibly holds no value at all in someone else’s eyes. … How is it that what a clever man says turns out to be a lot more stupid than what he leaves unsaid? — Fyodor Dostoevsky in The Adolescent.
Najib, Umno’s New Morality:
…And they muddy the water to make it seem deep. — Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900.
It is What They Say it is
In his essay ‘The World is White No Longer‘, the African-American James Baldwin (below) wrote: life has no morality. In that, he shares with the Confucian idea that the human is a cultural specimen and that morality is an acquired, cultural trait. God has no part in it, and we are better off telling Him how to behave.
Life without morality isn’t the equal of being irreligious or having no religion, which is belief, since people with no beliefs and people who have abandoned a religion (the apostate) can also possess morality. Flip the argument around, people who are supposedly the most religious, such as the mufti or Jakim employees or PAS members, are not necessarily the most moral.
Look at Najib Razak and his religious department and party sycophants: the louder they shout ‘bangsa, agama dan negara‘ (think Ismail Sabri or Tajuddin Rahman), the more immoral they become. And they show it.
Religions, typically Christianity and Islam, are hardly manifestations of morality. For the purpose of human conduct, they rely on a set of injunctions, often made into law, such as hudud or Sharia, and which rely on legal, earthly punishments and divine rewards to ensure compliance.
Morality, Baldwin argues on the other hand, is idea-based. That is, the idea is ferreted out of the mind, whether the argument is frivolous or robust is beside the point. The idea creates a standard. Morality is, therefore, a human endeavor, coming into being by an individual or by social volition as opposed to religious or divine coercion.
Looked at in this way, it shouldn’t come as a surprise why the like of Rahman Dahlan continues to defend the indefensible: it isn’t because he is immoral; no, he has no morality at all; no distinction between the idea of right and wrong. He’s just that, a caveman locked still in the shadows of Umno’s cave. As for Islam, Allah might as well be dead to him; it is just Friday prayer. And prayer, or talk, is anchored on nothing but a tongue.
Or, take Hanafiah Harun. He gives the impression of a moral expert by drawing on terms such as fasik and kafir, the terms that, because they have acquired an aura of divinity about them, need not be anchored on any moral idea. Hanafiah has only to invoke them. In doing so, he makes easy work to obfuscate plain thievery and, easier still, if obfuscation comes with an air of religious authority, that is, by injunctions. An injunction invoked, no argument is needed, no ideas for contesting are necessary: all that’s needed is merely to say it.
Hanafiah says it is so, then it is so.
Or, take the attitude of the judges and prosecutors who excused a rapist because he married his victim. In their decision, it appears that no moral standard is required. So long as child marriage has it in Islam, then the criminality of statutory rape can be kicked out the door, if not downstairs to the basement.
Reduced to by Umno and its politics, this is the moral state of Malay society. Dead.
Against Umno, Malay morality gives way. On point of fact, the stronger is Umno’s claim — or claims by PAS — of ‘expert’ Islamic knowledge the farther is the expert from the Malay morality. This is hardly a paradox. On the contrary, this is the sort of thinking that induces ISIS killers, a people who relies not on any morality to cut off heads but on injunction or the belief of an injunction.
They, like Umno, have reached a point beyond morality; indeed they grow from the same seed and, as they say, are cut from the same cloth.
When Pak Pandir urges Malays to return to their root, Melayu morality in rejecting Najib Razak, it is to history or historical precedents, more than the Quran, that he appeals to. Where Islam enters the appeal it is only incidental to the argument.
Root Melayu morality, on the other hand, is based on a deep, ancient Malay culture, on customs and practices, that is, on Malay ideas of morality. Therein is the sad and difficult part in Pak Pandir’s appeal: Malay morality was long ago dead. Malay maruah was long ago poisoned by the Arabs, by the Hanafiahs and by the Rahmans, not to mention Najib who employs the same maruah idea not as a source of determining right from wrong, but as a weapon of choice to impale all those who dare to challenge him. This means that it isn’t just religion or history or education or economics or culture that’s is been sequestered for political goals. Morality, too, has been hijacked.
Is it any wonder therefore Najib still walks around without shame, and that Rahman Dahlan should tweet endlessly to cover the immorality of the man.
That, invariably, has to be the logical outcome of ketuanan ideology because if a man is born supreme, then God and morality, too, have to be made to sit beneath that throne of supremacy. Otherwise, how else is one supreme? Likewise, ISIS people extol the supremacy of their God and therefore the supremacy of their selves.
Theft, fraud, even murder means nothing to any of them, ISIS or Umno. These acts have no moral significance because truth is relative, a matter of subjective interpretation (Petra Kamarudin); 1MDB is not a scam but a business matter (Najib); the American DOJ indictment is not a crime but speculative opinion (Hasan Arifin, PAC); 1MDB losses doesn’t mean corruption, it’s just bad investment (Zakaria Jaffar, MACC; Tan Keng Liang, Gerakan)….
In all those justifications, all the muddying of the water, not a single thought appeals to morality; not one. Jebat, for example, has argued that the conduct among the like of Najib are unprincipled, that is, without principles. He is mistaken somewhat; Najib and Umno today decide those principles; they make them; they create the standard. And that standard is….
Worse and far more dangerous than an immoral government is one that eschews, actually denounces, morality. After which, and as a result, they make their own rules; they alone determine what’s right or wrong, what’s good or bad for people, what’s true or false, what’s theft and not a theft; be loyal to Umno actually means worship Najib. Such a government constitutes a god to itself, a new deity standing over and above the rest. It’s time to slay the fucking thing before it is too late.