Research has shown that adults with low intelligence tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologiess, says Syerleena Abdul Rashid.
Every once in a while, we bear witness to incidents that remind us of the complexities of human behaviour.
On the afternoon of 31 March 2016, this reminder came in the form of Malaysians clad in red T-shirts, bellowing hateful rhetoric and tired catchphrases. Such an attitude can only be described – at best – as racism on overdrive and stupidity running amok.
We know that racism has become a movement in this country – it is methodical and malicious. We see far-right wing groups staging protests to show their abhorrence of ethnic unity, religious diversity and our democratic way of life.
To most of us, their acts only confirm the irrationalities of their thought patterns and just how gullible they really are. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how ignorance breeds hatred and how hatred breeds violent aggression.
But how can we justify the far right wing’s repetitive acts of violence and verbal onslaught?
The salvo of unruly, bigoted comments presents something more menacing than sheer ignorance and definitely something that lacks the innocence of your token village idiot. Groups like ‘Gerakan Baju Merah’ display a certain level of emotional investments that reaffirm the anger and resentment they feel are indeed genuine.
After all, negative energy is undeniably exhausting and because of this, we cannot simply deduce their inability to accept diverse opinions as a matter of naïveté on their part.
The Department of Psychology at Brock University conducted a research to ascertain the connection between low IQ and bigotry. Researcher Gordan Hodson clarified that low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies that emphasise “hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice”. The results also proved that children with low intelligence are more likely to carry prejudiced attitudes into adulthood.
Science has also proven that people with racist attitudes hardly mingle with those outside their social circle, thus, limiting their cultural exposure, which then magnifies cultural differences in a way that manifests social paranoia to destructive levels.
In fact, the failure to perceive and understand facts in a rational and logical manner is something laypersons like you and I would call stupidity. Those who suffer from this will tend to be extremely critical over matters that make sense to the rest of us.
But what we should understand is how far right wing ideologies tend to offer structure and order; the ideas they present tend to be very black and white – you are either with them or not and by limiting the choices or alternatives, people, especially those who are poor at abstract reasoning, will tend to gravitate to such ideologies.
A tool to control groups
Racism – in our case, institutionalised racism – is often used as a tool to control groups by instilling fear, paranoia and anxiety. After all, these are the recipes used by governments to propagate their indoctrinated hatred over anyone who dares to speak up against corruption and tyranny.
And this is what groups like Gerakan Merah present. They see themselves as the last champions of Malay rights and defenders who will do anything to uphold whatever distorted idea they believe in, even if it means waging unnecessary war against fellow Malaysians or threatening violence and arson.
These ideas contradict the spirit of our federal constitution and our democratic values.
It seems apparent that the only way to break this cycle is by educating ourselves and those around us.
In this sense, education should take on a holistic approach that stresses humanism, universal values and critical thinking. Education (when done properly without any political interference) can be an effective way to remove racism and eliminate ignorance from our society – or at least, most of it, if not all.
Or at least, in the case of Ali Tinju and his band of red-clad followers, this could enable them to understand that Malay members of DAP are no longer an elusive, mythical being. Therefore, it is okay to hand over memorandums to any one of us.
We are very real and ready to take on those who are bent on destroying the ‘Malaysian Malaysia’ dream.