“How is such barbarity possible in the late Twentieth Century?”
That question came at the beginning of Jean Baudrillard’s writing, “The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena”, in the chapter The Mirror of Terrorism. How (and why) the primitive behavior still appears in the era of advanced technology, when human behavior –supposed to be- more civilized? Why violence can be so easy to slip intertwined in every side of our life?
The Nov. 4 2016 rally has revealed if we haven’t stepped our toes that far yet from nativism and tribalism. Initiated by FPI leader Habieb Rizieq Shihab, thousands of protesters flooded Jakarta demanding Ahok to be charged for his alleged blasphemy case. The protesters came not only from Jakarta but also from Yogyakarta, Solo, even outside Java such as Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, of all ages. The uproar was triggered after a video of Ahok citing Al-Qur’an and made controversial comment in Kepulauan Seribu. This controversial speech was uploaded by a man named Buni Yani onto his Facebook page and went viral in other social media. As a result of it, everybody hits the ceiling in a sudden. Later, Buni Yani confessed if he had mistakes in transcribing the speech.
However, I have to to declare if I am not a big fan of his statement back in that day. I perceive if Ahok has not had the intention to insult other beliefs, but it seems no need to carry to those ethically wrong words. It’s just another example, if big-mouthed Ahok can lead problematic. Even in my opinion, every citizen is entitled to report anyone in the Indonesian legal system, so I respect the legal process that is currently underway. Regardless, the complainant(s) should be heartened if Ahok found not guilty considering twisted words from Buni Yani.
But let’s not discuss it. Things need to be observed more carefully is why there must be looting and racist sentiments when the demonstration takes place?
At the beginning, the demonstration runs quite orderly and peaceful, even deserve thumbs up when protesters took the initiative to pick up the garbage and to not to step on the city park. The tensions suddenly rose in a wrap, after the demonstration license was expired at 6 pm. Several protesters set off firecrackers, threw rocks, and burned two police trucks until police decided to fired tear gas to the protesters near the State Palace. Then, the riots moved over into Penjaringan, North Jakarta. At least, three minimarket were looted (by them, the nasty opportunists) and they shouted “Bunuh Cina!” and “Ganyang Cina!” and other hate speeches. There is also chaos in front of Ahok’s residence in Pantai Mutiara, also in North Jakarta, when mass gathered and make some similar noises.
Noticeably, this is irrational when the-so-called representatives of the Muslims have business with someone (Ahok), then the subject is a whole community of Chinese ethnicity. This argument is clearly, logically invalid. Even though Ahok is a Chinese-Indonesian, the demonstrators ought not to cornering all Chinese Indonesian community. We can’t make a generalization about what is true for some parts, can be applied to all, or vice versa. It is called pars pro toto, fallacy of composition and division. We can’t name of a portion of a man (Ahok) can represent its entirety (Chinese ethnic).
It’s really depressing when there are still many people who blame some minority ethnicity in Indonesia’s history that has experienced robberies, mass murder and rape in many years. Have you ever imagined your house knocked and when you open the door, you will be bayoneted in front of your family? You’ll never be paranoid as bad as Chinese ethnic people in Indonesia. They, the Chinese-Indonesian, through that bloody-dark era in many years, from Chinezenmoord 1740, to G30S/PKI ’65, to May ’98.
This racial hatred fueled and hijacked by the political identity separation, and hatred is ingrained, widespread, without any chance of reconciliation or explanation. This is exacerbated by our wick of anger that extremely short and laziness of Indonesian people to gather information and explore context. For the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, human was dominated by irrational and destructive impulses, humans are a bunch of vicious, cruel, and short-temper creatures. This is why human is also known as homo homini lupus: human is a wolf to another human that leads to collective wars of all against all, when everyone is a foe and competitor of everyone else (bellum omnium contra omnes). As a zoologist, Konrad Lorenz emphasizes human violence in his book, “On Aggression”. Aggressive drive springs spontaneously from the inner human being even in the absence of stimulus. Human is a destructive creature by nature, not only by nurture. Back to Jean Baudrillard’s question about human barbaric behavior in the opening sentence, the answer to that question is if it was a false question. Barbaric behavior knows no time and will always exist, particularly for a country like Indonesia with inequality education and poverty that resulting social jealousy.
A source of violence can appear out of the blue, from the media agenda-setting that constructing hostility, to social inequalities, compounded as if this country seemed to facilitate and promote violence. I do not have a steady conclusion to offer. But let’s think for a moment (perhaps cliché) and open our mind whether the violence was the right thing to do? Is your dislike of a person based on inaccurate information, can make a particular ethnic shivering again in their trauma? Do not forget if they are human beings. They were experienced the terrors and injustice of it in the past, do not let this happen again to them.
Never. Let. It. Happen. Again.
Or maybe it is true if we’ve reached the point where we would be the most destructive creatures on earth. Perhaps this assumption is wrong. Please prove me wrong. And I hope I’m wrong.