|From NST Online, 19 September 2007|
"HOW COULD ANYONE DO THIS?" screamed the New Straits Times headline of 19 September 2007. Here we go again, whipping up public outrage over what is undeniably a hideously grotesque and macabre case of child molestation, sexual abuse, and murder. However, I can't help wondering: what's the link between repressed sexuality, false piety, and the erotic underbelly of brute force? This is certainly not the first time something so horrific has occurred. Indeed, there was a period when you couldn't turn the pages of any tabloid without reading about yet another child rape, sex murder, or straightforward case of torture.
Nine years ago, the entire nation was stunned by the audacious abduction, rape and murder of Canny Ong; soon after this a 10-year-old girl named Nurul was molested and strangled by a security guard.
Then there was the outrageous case of a pretty Chinese jogger who was abducted in broad daylight, raped, and killed by a carload of unidentified men. (I'm reminded of a chat I had with popular stand-up comedian Jit Murad who was shocked and depressed by the inane mutterings of the Malay cabbie who had chauffeured him to the theater. The man kept leering at pretty Chinese girls on the street and let slip that he wished he could rape them all. Abolish the religious barriers and that cabbie would probably have fantasized about dating them all.)
More recently, just over seven years ago, a 28-year-old Mongolian interpreter named Altantuya Shaariibuu was abducted and possibly raped before being shot in the head and blown to smithereens with C4 explosives. Two members of the Unit Tindakan Khas (UTK) - an elite police unit specially trained for "swift response" and mainly assigned as personal bodyguards to ministers - stand accused of this gruesome deed. For sure the crime is far more heinous when the "victim" is a mere child; but, ultimately, violence against women (or for that matter young boys) must be classified as psychopathological, regardless of age.
Wherein lies its origins, this twisted impulse to intimidate, dominate, subjugate, and violate? Is brute force hardwired into our neural circuitry, as an integral part of the survival instinct, and do we all unconsciously play the game of predator and prey? Come to think of it, violence pretty much underlies the whole patriarchal concept of control and power. Strip away the legalistic gobbledygook and you'll see the latent threats woven into every contract - ultimately the State has apparent power over its subjects because it controls the police (secret or otherwise) and military.
If you examine what goes into the training of a policeman or soldier, you'll find that empathy, compassion, sympathy, and understanding are usually NOT part of the curriculum. Are trainee policemen and soldiers encouraged to "try a little tenderness"? On the contrary, the entire training program is designed to "toughen up" the young recruit, transform boys into men, into efficient androids, conditioned to obey authority and carry out orders without engaging the mind or the heart. It's hardly surprising, then, that in the majority of cases, perpetrators of extremely brutal crimes turn out to be rogue policemen or soldiers. Okay, many are security guards - but most security guards come from a police or military background. In fact, I'd hazard a guess that almost all security agencies are owned and operated by former uniformed personnel.
|Hell on Earth at Abu Ghraib (photos from antiwar.com|
Why do people react with shock and dismay when their own children turn into monsters soon after they enlist in the police force, a covert agency, or some branch of the military? Look at what happened at Abu Ghraib. Clean-cut American kids, shipped off to fight an immoral "war" in Iraq, suddenly turn feral - reveling in unimaginable acts of cruelty and perversity. Here we are, in the 21st Century, and every day we are confronted by the ugly fact that something as diabolically evil as Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo Bay exists, with the tacit approval of American citizens - indeed, of the so-called Civilized World (let's be honest, if we were upset enough about wartime atrocities and violent abuses of human rights we would long have initiated diplomatic and economic boycotts of just about every nation on Earth).
Remember all the official propaganda about Soviet Gulags and Nazi concentration camps? Well, what about the CIA's "rendition" program - outsourcing the interrogation and torture of "suspected terrorists" to less squeamish countries? Deep down, aren't we all quite capable of unnameable acts of savage brutality - especially when carried out in the sanctimonious name of God or King, Race or Religion - or some Great Leader or other? (ISA detainees during the Reformasi Era not so long ago reported that the Special Branch officers "interrogating" them were in the habit of saluting each other with fanatical cries of "Hidup Mahathir!")
Indeed, political expediency has always been the mother of "evil necessities" like May 13 or 9/11 - or for that matter every war ever instigated in Man's bloody history.
Obviously, there are thousands - perhaps even millions - of skeletons waiting to tumble out of humanity's subconscious cupboard. James Joyce wasn't kidding when he wrote: "History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake."
Rather than get hysterical and demand the public lynching of guilty parties - or allocate more funds to beef up the forces of law enforcement - it would serve each of us much better to quietly examine the belief systems we grew up with and ask ourselves how these have contributed to our fears, obsessions, and compulsions.
Take the belief in Heaven and Hell, for example: do all those who claim to be Christian (or Muslim) seriously believe that anyone who doesn't accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (or Muhammad as the Last Prophet) will end up burning forever in some sort of Haw Par Villa Hell?
Any "God" who decrees "eternal perdition" and constructs a mega-sized medieval torture chamber to punish infidels and backsliders (and there are bound to be countless multitudes of us) can only be regarded as a demented tyrant - and therefore unworthy of endorsement or worship.
My point is simply this: the basis of all inhuman acts can be found in religious superstition, whether we're dealing with Aztec priests who rip the beating hearts from the cut-open chests of sacrificial victims, or Catholic bishops who preside over witch hunts and burnings at stake, or mad mullahs who forcibly separate "infidel" mothers from their "Muslim" children and condemn to death anyone who decides to try on a different belief system. And if you require concrete evidence of the insanity underpinning all creeds extolling Race and Religion, look no further than the Talmud. Indeed, you don't even have to delve into the obscurantism of the Jewish scriptures; just read Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and you'll be stunned at the bloody-minded jingoism embedded in a supposedly "holy" book!
Here's a pertinent quote from anti-Zionist polemicist David Duke's controversial book, Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening to the Jewish Question (published by the Free Speech Press in 2007):
In contrast to the universalism of the New Testament, the Old Testament is extremely ethnocentric. It repeatedly identifies the Israelites as a “special people,” or a “Chosen People," and it painstakingly traces the genealogical descent of the Children of Israel. Many thought-provoking passages forbid the intermarriage of Jews and other tribes. In the book of Exodus, Moses responds to Israelites who had sexual relations with Moabite women by ordering that the Moabites be executed. In Ezra, God commanded those who married non-Israelites to cast off their wives and even the children of such unions. Some of the bloodiest writings I have ever read detailed the Jewish people’s annihilation of their tribal enemies. The massacres of Canaanites, Jacobites, Philistines, Egyptians, and dozens of other peoples are gruesomely recorded in the Bible. In today’s terminology, we describe the slaughter of entire peoples as genocide. Old Testament Jews spared neither men, women, children nor even the animals and pets of their enemies.What have we here? An Old Testament deity that comes across pretty much as a cruel, ruthless despot and tyrant, more feared than loved by his worshipers. As the gods receded from human memory and were replaced by Kings and Queens, what remained unchanged were the attributes of ruthless cruelty, despotism and tyranny as the hallmarks of strong leadership. And as Kings and Queens began to surrender their authority and power to secular ministers and bureaucrats, the State as a corporate entity arrogated those attributes in the name of maintaining Law and Order.
Nevertheless, the Iron Hand of harsh punishment must, of necessity, be concealed within the Velvet Glove of slick PR. Far easier and more efficient to create a social order wherein people police themselves and one another through ideological imprinting. Hence "the education system" wherein young minds get formatted and have their basic behavioral software installed. Of course, no system is perfect - and every so often the long-repressed feral nature (the Mr Hyde side of our multi-layered personalities, our Gollum selves, if you prefer) will erupt onto the front pages of our daily newspapers. That respected pillar of society and stalwart Rotarian, Dr Jekyll, everyone is shocked to learn, is a closet pedophile, a child molester, perhaps even a cannibal!
How could anyone do this? Sexually abuse a child to death and dispose of the body in a sports bag. Well, C4 explosives would have been real handy but they're rather hard to come by, since only the Defence Ministry has possession of this substance, I'm told.
Outrage is indeed a positive thing. Let's have a little more of it, ladies and gentlemen. But, please, let's be very brave and look in the mirror first and see what murderous Balrogs lurk in the unvisited subterranean depths of our poor, over-indoctrinated psyches.
[First published 19 September 2007. Reposted 19 February 2014]