2013-05-07

Racey Malaysian News?

From a FB discussion on why race is emphasised so much, even in foreign news coverage of Malaysia.

The ontology of race is a non-trivial mechanism in the dominant party's narrative. TLDR: BN uses race to divide and conquer.

We shouldn't confuse our normative and descriptive categories.

Race as a descriptive category is necessarily applied to the ongoing Malaysian political situation, in order to obtain an accurate model of this situation, because the ontology of race is the social construct that dominates decision making by the humans in this situation.

Race as a normative category is not necessary for politics in general, and as some have observed, in order to actively counteract the narrative of divisive racial politics, folks attacking BN would want to come up with alternative categories that shape the rhetoric of their offensive campaigns.

(Such as speciesism: insert link to "parti-carebear". :P)

Is it ethical for journalists to propagate BN's paradigms?

I guess it depends on where you're using the language. If you're trying to do "just a news report," on the politics of Malaysia, then it makes sense to talk about the decisions that Malaysian voters make in terms of the concepts that Malaysian voters think in, which for better or for worse have been designed by BN. So that justifies the use of Malaysian-BN language by journalists. (Correction: someone pointed out that it is the British who earlier applied these political devices in Malaysia; indeed!)

If you're trying to impute or create new economic insights about Malaysian politics, then you're in the business of research, or "investigative / feature writing,".. i.e. paradigm shifting.. forming hypothetical language constructs, and testing their usefulness. Whether you call that art, or science, or activism... a worthwhile pursuit, but perhaps not for the average journo.

And about whether it's a lazy rehashing - it doesn't matter if it's accurate. Accuracy and effort may be uncorrelated. As to whether it's accurate or not, then you have to get into the details of the model... and then we're moving across the gradient from "reporting the news," i.e. uncovering a story that no one else was fast enough to get to yet, to "digging below the surface," i.e. uncovering a story that no one else was smart enough to get to yet.

So in this line of thought, certain Economist & NYT articles were more the first kind of journalism, and a certain Malaysian Insider article was more the second kind. Makes sense, since the point of the former articles was "via the wire," rehashing, whereas the latter article was an editorial.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”



Utusan Malaysia's headline the next day: "Apa lagi Cina mahu?" / "What else do Chinese want?"

Well, mostly, I just want to be left alone by shit stirrers.

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