Tag Archives: Muslim

My Independence Message

Ahh, long holiday weekends. Almost missing the joy of wrapping up work early and beating the traffic, we’re off to Bangkok for eight days of eating. Well, perhaps we’ll do some other things but honestly, it’s mostly eating. Basically, we chose the 4th of July for two reasons. Falling only two days after July 4th, the Muslim holiday of Hari Raya will soon shatter the overly serene atmosphere we’ve enjoyed for over three weeks. Commemorating the end of Ramadan, July 6th and 7th are national holidays in Malaysia and being mid-week, many people will stretch it into a long five-day weekend. As we learned last year, throngs of people leave wherever they’re from and flock to our beach community for some R&R. As vehicular challenged overseas expats relying on buses and Uber for our basic needs, this means either hunkering down at the pool and living on whatever food is in the house or enduring 90 minute bumper to bumper crawls on two lane roads to get anywhere. Always craving real Thai food, we decided to escape to Bangkok for eight days and see what’s changed in seven years.

Train 36

Train 36

Modernization played a role in the second reason we’re leaving on the 4th of July. Originally planning an overnight train excursion two days later, we discovered they replaced the otherwise convenient direct train to Bangkok with a commuter train to the border. Thanks to high-speed trains unfit for Thailand’s rail system, passengers need to transfer at the border town, buy a different ticket for the Thai train (if there are any available) and then hope the Thai train arrives as scheduled. With heavy travel to Southern Thailand where most Muslim Thai people live, we defaulted to Air Asia’s daily non stop instead of fighting the crowds. Planning on attending our first Muay Thai match at the new Lumpinee Stadium, visiting some floating markets, shopping for whatever catches our eye and escaping the downpours at some museums, we’re happy to leave the hoopla behind. Bypassing Bangkok last year on our first trip to Thailand as MM2H holders, we love Bangkok’s controlled chaos more than most big cities but fully understand why so many urbanites with disposable cash flee the noise and traffic for quieter northern enclaves like Chiang Mai (as we hope to do next summer).

Statistically, more than half my readers come from the USA and before wishing everyone a healthy, safe and happy Independence Day holiday, I need to get something off my chest. Understanding I promised to lower the political content on my expat blog, I’d be remiss without commenting on the unacceptably high level of really ugly, vile hatred I’ve seen on American social media towards the entire Muslim religion.

insane

Since Trump turned ignorance and closet racism into an acceptable form of mainstream communication, America is more dangerous than most moderate Islamist nations. Representing a very small cross-section of Facebook, I’ve only got 120 or so friends, mostly childhood acquaintances and a smattering of Bay Area and Canadian friends from our working days. Already forced to de-friend dozens of old neighbors I once called friends for constantly smearing an American who voluntarily lives in a peaceful Muslim nation, I’m absolutely sickened by the racist shit I’ve seen and often pinch myself to make sure I’m not stuck in some World War II Nazi Germany alternate universe.

fascistRearing the ugliest part of technology, too many people use Facebook as a means to validate hatred and while I’m all for freedom of expression, it’s time to take stand and draw the line somewhere before one raving lunatic potentially ruins 240 years of progress. The experiment called American democracy is failing miserably and mimicking some modern version of white supremacy with moronic suggestions like “profiling American mosques” needs to go before it’s too late. Sick of defending myself and knowing I can’t erase ignorance from those blinded by hate, I’m hopelessly ashamed of what America’s become and hope anyone reading this shares my blog with someone willing to preach tolerance as the real “American Way of Life”. My America is black, white, Mexican, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindi, Buddhist and everything in between. Multicultural. Like Malaysia.

 

Happy Independence Day !!

coexistance

Our Holiday Message

Spending our first holiday season away from North America, Diane and I have a lot to be thankful for. Having successfully sold our house and almost all our possessions, we took a big leap of faith and followed a dream of early retirement in Southeast Asia. Having never even visited Penang or even peninsular Malaysia, the first six months have come and gone with only minor inconveniences. Always interesting, often frustrating and most certainly quite rewarding, expat life is nothing like anything we’ve ever done and differs greatly from vacations. Having said that and almost always avoiding political topics, I nevertheless feel compelled to share my take on the tumultuous times we’re living in. Saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in France, we’re greatly disturbed by the messages being sent to the voters in the supposed leader of the free world. Once a bastion of freedom and democracy, the hatred, xenophobia and racism spewing out of the mouths of almost every American political candidate running for president in 2016 is so offensive it makes me ashamed to be an American citizen.

hate_sucks_hoodieRecently, a letter to Donald Trump from Michael Moore entitled “We’re all Muslim” made the rounds on the internet. Normally not a fan, I read it anyway and it helped ease my concern that every American voter is so angry that they’d even entertain thoughts of “banning all Muslims” from the country founded on the principle of religious freedom. Before anyone sends me hate mail, let me clarify: I am a non-Christian agnostic raised without much religion and neither condone or condemn any religion as better than any other. Nobody denies there’s evil organizations out there and the threat is real. But allowing the 2016 election’s main agenda of a return to perpetual fear by an entire citizenry egged on by a far right contingent of conservative politicians fearful of losing power does a huge disservice to a generation tired of reliving the tragedy of 9/11 for an entire century.

Knowing most expat blog readers are open-minded, my holiday wish is a return of sanity to a political system gone horribly awry. Understanding I can’t pull the weight of MIchael Moore, I’m offering an Open Letter to the American Voters from a fellow citizen living in a peaceful Muslim nation. Basically there’s no “East Versus West” except in the minds of your idiot candidates and my proof is six months of residency in “enemy territory“. Sadly, I’m unable to share this on Facebook because most of my FB friends would immediately condemn me for speaking out against hatred and fall back some warped idea that respecting all religions is somehow unpatriotic.

Dear American Voter:

My wife and I voluntarily moved to Malaysia this year to begin our retirement. For many, your knowledge of this scenic and beautiful nation might be limited to CNN’s highly biased and mostly non-factual coverage of an airline that disappeared and a government too ignorant to figure out what happened. Others may be curious and even want to visit but you probably won’t. Despite no active warnings to Americans about terrorist related activities, you’re no doubt scared. Although the state we live in (Penang) is largely dominated by Chinese, the nation is a “Muslim country” and your government therefore discourages you from visiting. You’re told “they’re all coming to get you” and “another 9/11 is imminent”. At the risk of educating even one person, we’d like to share a bit of life in one of the most peaceful nations on earth. At the risk of shocking many of you, we took the picture below at a recent trip to the mall.

IMG_1516 (1)

Notice the young teens and their mother texting. Just like your kids. Contrary to popular opinion, Malaysians (Muslims) enjoy a middle class lifestyle like yours. They’re not “coming to get you. In fact, they know almost nothing about you and are all shockingly appalled and bewildered when someone tells them 300 million people hate them. They wear head-dress. Many of you wear your Sunday best when you go to church. So what? Historically speaking, Muslims lived peacefully with Christians, Buddhists and Jews in western Europe and everyone got along once until the Spanish Inquisition put a stop to that. Oddly enough, there are lots of churches in a Muslim nation. And more Christmas music than politically correct California. You see, people in moderate Muslim nations spend most of their time working and enjoy their holidays at the beach. Just like you. Malaysia encourages legal immigration and doesn’t even profile you at the airport for looking Christian. Imagine that.

My wife and I chose not to own a vehicle. Taking the bus allows us to integrate with the population that includes Muslims, Indians, Chinese and mostly European expats. This may shock you but the pictures below show how most Malaysian Muslims spend their mornings and weekends. They commute and sit in traffic. Just like you. Unlike most Americans, they give up their seat when an elderly person gets on the bus. And would you believe they even do this when a non-Muslim needs a seat? (Gasp). When we visit the mall, the mostly Muslim salespeople go out of their way to be polite and are probably less likely to commit a violent crime of any one than their expat counterparts. On weekends, they gather in the parks to play free concerts. They’re not organizing rallies to drum up the next terrorist attack against Americans. Believe it or not, Islam has nothing to do with holding back women’s rights. Governments and cultural norms control that, mostly for political gain, not religion. Everyone here works, schools are open to anyone that wants an education and they even occasionally hold hands in public. Yikes.

Malaysia’s population is almost 40 million. About 65% are Muslim. They’re overwhelmingly peaceful, law-abiding citizens that have better things to do with their time than follow politicians, right-wing radio hosts and media organizations that spread innuendo, lies and hatred. We know this not because we’re pro Democrat, left-wing or anti-Republican. We live it every day. With two billion Muslims on earth, the notion that “they’re all terrorists” is simply an outright lie. What passes as media in America is sinful and running an entire election platform on hatred instead of addressing real issues like bilateral cooperation of all nations to fight ALL forms of terrorism is an injustice. Even allowing Donald Trump to get this far is shocking to most of the world and hopefully sanity will prevail.

Of course Malaysia has problems and not everyone is a model citizen. Most of you knows for a fact that the ratio of Americans killed by gun violence outnumbers those killed by terrorism by an astoundingly ridiculous margin but that’s OK because the second amendment somehow means it’s OK to murder children in cold blood as long as it’s done by a white guy. I won’t argue gun laws here but will shock you one more time by informing you there’s NO GUNS PERMITTED in this Muslim nation except law enforcement and the military. So I’d like Mr.Trump to explain just what they’ll all kill us with. 

Imploring everyone to speak out against racism and return America to the proud world leader it once was, please share this letter to every presidential candidate. (except whatever idiot said “We’ll leave Malaysia alone”). Thanks for reading.

Peace, Love and Happy Holidays from us to you !!