Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts and Habib Rizieq’s FPI

Here are two different but fascinating stories. It takes place in different countries and different times, but they both tell the story about how you can fool (and intimidate) all the people some of the time but  not all the people all the time.

The first is set in the US in the 1950s, when the country was gripped by Cold War Tensions. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy exploited the fears and uncertainties and claimed that he had a list of Communists and Soviet sympathizers in the US Government and society.

Thereafter, using Senate Hearings as his bully pulpit he proceeded to launch a witch hunt against the putative Communists. Many innocent lives were affected. Careers were destroyed and some of his victims took their own lives.

For a moment he seemed unassailable. If you spoke out against then that meant you were a Communist or a sympathizer. There were some dissenting voices but by and large most people were afraid to provoke the ire of McCarthy because of his thuggish and intimidating tactics.

Then one fine day, the mirror cracked. McCarthy was trying to implicate a young man who belonged to the law firm of US Army legal counsel Joseph Welch in senate hearing that was broadcast live on TV. Welch stood up to McCarthy in his now famous “You Have no Decency” response (see YouTube video below) and it was over. From there McCarthy was exposed for the charlatan he was and stripped bare. People realized that the King had no clothes and McCarty went on a downward spiral. The Senate censured him and he died 10 years later, supposedly of a heart attack but widely suspected of dying from alcoholism.

The second story is set in present day Indonesia, which is in the grip of indecision and political intrigue between the various political parties and government institutions . Habib Riziq exploited this situation to build his base of support  in Jakarta through the FPI and is now trying to extend his influence in the rest of this country.

His tactics, like, Mccarthy’s are similar. Thuggism that intimidates dissenting voices. The FPI has been threatening people and even the police with impunity. Even though there are dissenting voices, people are generally afraid of confronting him or the FPI. They not only destroy lives but also property.

Now comes  the fine day yesterday in which hundreds of people from the Dayak community in Kalimantan stood up to Habib and the FPI by banning him from landing in Palankaraya airport and rejecting the FPI’s presence in their backyard. Is this Indonesia’s “You have no decency” moment?

Langkah Suku Dayak Tolak FPI Bisa Jadi Contoh – Nasional –

“Ini momentum bagi masyarakat lain, bisa jadi contoh untuk jangan diam saja kalau melihat ada benih-benih intoleransi,” kata Bonar.

Keberanian masyarakat adat suku Dayak untuk menolak keberadaan Front Pembela Islam FPI di Provinsi Kalimantan Tengah harus dihargai dan menjadi contoh bagi masyarakat lain untuk berani menentang benih-benih intoleransi antar umat beragama.

“Keberanian masyarakat Dayak untuk menolak FPI secara terbuka itu harus kita hargai, dan seharusnya menjadi inspirasi bagi yang lain untuk berani bicara dan bertindak melawan intoleransi,” kata Wakil Ketua Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, hari ini.

Ratusan masyarakat adat Dayak di Palangkaraya menolak kedatangan anggota FPI ke kota tersebut dalam rangka tablig akbar, karena khawatir keberadaan mereka akan mengganggu keharmonisan antar umat beragama di Provinsi Kalteng.Menurut Bonar, penolakan tersebut sangat wajar dan bisa dimengerti mengingat catatan aksi FPI.”FPI kan sudah ada di Kalimantan Timur, mereka sudah melakukan sweeping beberapa kali dan bahkan menganggu komunitas Ahmadiyah di Samarinda. Wajar kalau para pemuda Dayak khawatir kalau kejadian yang sama akan terulang di provinsi mereka,” kata Bonar.

Menurutnya, ada lebih banyak lagi pengikut Ahmadiyah di provinsi Kalimantan Tengah, bahkan jumlahnya adalah yang terbesar di provinsi Kalimantan.Lebih jauh Bonar menambahkan bahwa penolakan masyarakat adat Dayak terhadap keberadaan FPI tetap membutuhkan alasan yang sangat kuat agar tidak menentang hak umum untuk berserikat dan mendirikan organisasi.

Bonar juga mengatakan sebaiknya dijalin dialog antara kedua pihak dan FPI harus berjanji bahwa mereka tidak akan melakukan tindakan kekerasan dan melanggar hukum.”Jika mereka tidak mau menurut syarat tersebut, barulah bisa ditolak keberadaannya,” kata Bonar.Bonar menambahkan radikalisme adalah hal yang tidak mungkin bisa dihindarkan, namun selagi para penganut kepercayaan radikal tersebut tidak melakukan tindak kekerasan atau menyebarkan pesan kebencian maka keberadaannya masih bisa ditoleransi.

“Ini momentum bagi masyarakat lain, bisa jadi contoh untuk jangan diam saja kalau melihat ada benih-benih intoleransi,” kata Bonar.

Ramadhan blooper II: Indonesian TV’s turn

In Unspun’s last posting we featured the silliness of TV8 in Malaysia and its Ramadhan message. While the flak is still flying in Malaysia, Indonesia’s TVOne (what is it with TV stations and numerals?) seems to have come up with silliness of their own.

TV stations traditionally air a videoclip to accompany the adz an prayers. Typical messages are, of course, exhorting people to be religious, to be tolerant, to have compassion. This year, however, TVOne has a different message:

It starts with a tailor being treated badly. This inspires him to get even by doing well for himself. So he goes to the bank to get a loan, start a business. As he prospers he buys a car.

Here’s where product placement gets ridiculous. The camera has the requisite handshake-to-denote-closed-deal shot and as it pans out, very prominently we see the Daihatsu marqe and the make of the model of the car – Sirjohn (what sort of an idiot will name a car Sirjohn anyway?)

As the car leaves the showroom, breaking all the rules of the Highway Code because it does not have a legit number plate but the ridiculous SIRJOHN, the camera carefully pans across a – you guessed it – DAIHATSU showroom and the fact that it is part of ASTRA International.

What were the marketing people at Astra Daihatsu and their advertising company thinking? Unspun supposes the question is moot because if they were thinking at all they would have realized that something like that smacks of a brand exploiting religion to sell its products, would backfire.

Already, Twitter is all abuzz with this insensitivity on the part of Astra and Daihatsu. Let’s see how they will drive their way out of all this.

The hypocrite, pornography and the Galaxy tab

Except that everyone else does not go around the country with righteous piety, trying to enact legislation banning pornography in the name of morality and religion. Unspun thinks the we-are-all-the-same defense is very lame. Earns an Unspun shit-for-brains tag


Arifinto: ‘I am a human. I err like everyone else’

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 04/12/2011 8:02 PM | National 


Arifinto, the former House of Representatives member from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) who was photographed while watching pornography last week said goodbye to his constituency after resigning on Monday.

“Visiting my constituents in Karawang, Bekasi and Purwakarta has been scheduled in the party’s agenda. But now I change the purpose. Not only do I want to listen to their aspirations and needs, I also want to say goodbye, as I have resigned from my party,” he said.

Karawang was the first stop. “Today I met some of my friends in Karawang. I will visit Purwakarta and Bekasi soon,” he said.

He apologized for his behavior during the plenary session. “I am a human. I err like anyone else. I said this to the people and to the party. They understood,” he said.

Arifanto said he would be back to his old profession as businessman. “Basically, I am a businessman. I will run my printing company again,” he said. (lfr)

Loco Loco over Poco Poco in Malaysia

Here’s another Malaysian that’s inspired another shit-for-brains tag in this blog. The Poco-Poco dance is as harmless as you can get and Unspun’s known many a woman who has danced it and not turned into some depraved nymphomaniac or cultist.

Where do these clerics get such ideas that the Poco Poco is cultist? And Christian influences? The Koran itself has Christian influences. Where do these inbred clerics get the notion that the Faith is so weak that some jiggling of the body will lead them down the road of temptation and damnation?

Shit for brains is the only plausible answer.

Malaysia clerics ban ‘poco-poco’ dance for Muslims

– Fri Apr 1, 1:30 am ET

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Islamic clerics in a Malaysian state want Muslims to avoid a popular dance they claim has Christian influences.

The “poco-poco” is a line dance that is common at social events in Muslim-majority Malaysia. It is widely thought to have originated in Indonesia.

Islamic scholars in Malaysia’s Perak state say they believe the “poco-poco” is traditionally a Christian dance and that its steps make the sign of the cross.

State cleric Harussani Idris Zakaria said Friday the scholars have issued an edict forbidding the dance. It is not clear if other states will ban it.

Some Muslims insist the ban is unnecessary. Malaysian clerics have also banned yoga for Muslims and barred girls from behaving like tomboys, but the edicts are not legally binding.

via Malaysia clerics ban ‘poco-poco’ dance for Muslims – Yahoo! News.

The Allah issue in Malaysia: Look South

This Allah issue in Malaysia is getting ridiculous and dangerous – the latest developments include the firebombings of churches in Taiping.

Ironically Taiping, where Unspun grew up in the state of Perak in Malaysia, is means “Great Peace” in Chinee. It was given the name after a bloody civil war between rival Hokkien and Cantonese migrants in the tin trade. For many years since Taiping has enjoyed the serenity of its namesake and the biggest action in town when Unspun was growing up was when they installed traffic lights in the road junctions.

The firebombings last week has destroyed whatever Great Peace Taiping seems to have had. Perhaps it is a sign of the times.

Allah is used freely by all denominations in Indonesia without widespread defection of Muslims to other religions. Why is Malaysia so different?

In this entire hoo ha one question that needs to e asked is what is the role of the Malaysian Government playing in all this? If you will recall, it was the Malaysian Government that triggered the issue in the first place when the Home Minister forbade  the Catholic Church to use the word Allah in its newsletter Herald.

When the Church successfully challenged the order in the Malaysian High Court, the Malaysian Government said it would appeal, and it did on the grounds that if the Catholics were allowed to use the word Allah there MIGHT be racial conflict.

The problem with prophecies is that they tend to be self-fulfilling. So did the Malaysian Government inadvertently suggest the idea of racial conflict or was it cynically prescient in predicting the future?

This is a question worth thinking about. But while pondering about this, what to do about the genie that is being let out of the bottle with the firebombings of the churches in KL and Taiping?

Here Malaysians should Look South and learn from the Indonesians about religious harmony. When there were riots in 1997 the more responsible Muslim groups not only did not partake in the destruction of churches and calling for calm, they actively form brigades to guard against the violent attacks of their fellow muslims against churches. How cool is that?

And for those, like the Malaysian Government, who advance the idiotic argument that the use of the word Allah by other religious groups would encourage Muslims to change their religions, they should also Look South to Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world where over 90 percent of its residents have been and remain Muslims.

Here churches use Allah freely in their sermons and  in the Bibles they use, Muslims do not whip themselves into a fervor if Muslims decide to change religions, and Allah is just another word for God, whether they are of Christian, Muslim or other persuasions. And the result? No widespread defection of Muslims to other religions. Go figure!

How do you cover racial bigotry?

Journalist Andreas Harsono, recipient of Maverick’s Click of the Year Award for journalist-bloggers, ponders how journalists should cover a story of religious bigotry in Pontianak.(Thanks to reader Bonar for the link)
clipped from

Bagaimana Meliput Pontianak?

Ratusan pendukung Barisan Melayu Bersatu datang ke Rumah Adat Melayu di Pontianak pada 20 Februari 2008. Mereka minta pemerintah melarang warga Tionghoa menggunakan bahasa Hakka atau Tio Ciu. Mereka juga menuntut pemerintah melarang perayaan Imlek dengan barongsai dan naga. Mereka minta semua aksara Mandarin dilarang di tempat-tempat umum.
— Photo by Lukas B. Wijanarko. All rights reserved.
Sejak Januari lalu, ketika Barisan Umat Islam datang ke DPRD Kalimantan Barat dan minta Majelis Adat & Budaya Tionghoa dibubarkan, hingga demo kemarin dengan Barisan Melayu Bersatu minta kebudayaan Tionghoa dilarang dan orang Tionghoa dilarang berbahasa etnik, saya sering ditanya bagaimana harus meliput ini?
  blog it