Construction of a racist

Cardinal Richelieu has been quoted for this:

Give me six lines written by the most honest man, and I will find something there to hang him.

As quoted in Champlain’s Dream‎ (2008) by David Hackett Fischer

Back in the mid 1990’s a australian historian, Michael D. Barr, wrote an article where he constucted Lee Kuan Yew as a racist. The article is a smart piece of work and it’s worth noteing because it’s the typical way left wing academics and politicians has kept there opponents at check: smearing with lies that opponents are racists.

First, from the conclusion in Barr’s paper:

Not a Social Darwinist
This article has described in detail the character of Lee Kuan Yew’s racial views
substantially using his own words as evidence. After a lifetime of being circumspect
on the question of race, Lee has finally spoken openly, revealing himself as
doctrinaire racist. Yet it would be a mistake to condemn Lee as a hard line racist in
every sense of the word. Such a characterisation of his views would be a distortion of
both his logic and his natural disposition. There can be no doubt that Lee is a racist in
the sense that he believes that some races and some ethnically-based cultures are
inherently superior to others. His own words leave no doubt about this assertion,
though it should be recognised that this in itself hardly makes him remarkable in Asia.
He is also a racist in the sense that he has integrated his racial views into his political
agenda and he has created a regime which accentuates racial categorisation. This
assertion, too, is beyond dispute, yet it should be acknowledged that affirmative
action programmes in the United States and Australia are based upon racial
classifications and are widely accepted as part of modem liberal orthodoxy. Of equal
significance to our study of his political thought are the aspects of political and
personal racism that Lee has avoided by his eclectic approach. Lee’s idiosyncratic
rationalisation of his racial views, for instance, has undermined the tendency to
dismiss any race as being irredeemably inferior, or unchangeably superior. He has not
conceived of any race as being supreme, even though some are more intelligent and
hardier than others. Unlike Social Darwinian racists, he does not base his views on the
assumption that any race is a lower or higher evolutionary form of humanity. He sees
no unbridgeable divide between races. Although his environmental determinism,
Lamarckian view of evolution and cultural eugenicism may explain the higher
intelligence and better glands of those who hail from a “hard” society, they also create
a firm line of continuity between the different races, and give each race the capacity to
change for the better or the worse: hence Lee’s efforts to “improve” racial
communities by “tinkering” with their cultures. (89) The result has been that despite
instances of overt racial discrimination by Lee’s government, and more common
occasions of discrimination in Singaporean society, Lee has created a society which
has a relatively low level of racial tension, despite having a high level of racial
consciousness. Considering his own racial views and the nature of the society he
inherited, this is a remarkable achievement which, despite its shortcomings, should be
How Barr arrive on the crap:
Racism is rarely far from the surface of Asian societies, and this is especially true
of those multiracial societies that feel the need to promote racial tolerance as part of
official ideology. Yet even in these cases, promoting racial tolerance does not
necessarily imply the promotion of racial indifference. Singapore’s multiracialism, for
instance, encourages a high consciousness of one’s race even as it insists on tolerance.
Further, it has been considered by many as a covert form of discrimination in favour
of the majority Chinese and against the minorities, especially the Malays. This article
is an attempt to advance our understanding of Singapore’s idiosyncratic version of
multiracialism by casting new light on the thinking of its primary architect, Senior
Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Note that in this context, “malay” are equivelent to “muhammedanian”.
Understanding any aspect of Lee Kuan Yew’s career requires a syncretic
approach. but fully understanding his racial views stretches holistic analysis to new
limits. Lee’s views on race have been a matter of much private, but little published
comment. This now changes with the publication of his authorised biography,
LeeKuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas, (7) in which Lee speaks about race with
unprecedented candour. Upon close inspection, Lee’s racial beliefs prove not to be an
aberration or idiosyncrasy in his thinking, but the consummation of his world view
and his political thought.
Without a hint of irony, Lee also took the opportunity to
assure Malays that they need not fear Hong Kong immigrants taking their jobs
because the immigrants will all be high income earners. In 1977 Lee treated
Parliament to a four hour post-election victory speech which could best be described
as “uninhibited.” In this speech, Lee told the multi-racial chamber, “I understand the
Englishman. He knows deep in his heart that he is superior to the Welshman and the
Scotsman…. Deep here, I am a Chinaman.” (12) In recent times, Lee has not only
been more forthright about his racial views but he has also confirmed that he held
them at least as early as the beginning of the 1970s. In October 1989, in an interview
with Malaysia’s New Straits Times Lee revealed that after he read Mahathir Mohamad’s
The Malay, Dilemma (13) in 1971 in 1971 or 1972, he found himself “in
agreement with three-quarters of his analysis of the problem” of the economic and
educational under-performance of the Malays. (14) According to Lee and Mahathir,
the problem was both cultural and genetic. (15) Lee noted with approval that
Mahathir’s views were the “result of his medical training, and… he was not likely to
change them.” (16)
At this stage it is important to consider the origins of Lee’s racial views. It is

natural to assume that Lee’s beliefs stem directly from prejudices he learnt as a child.
While there is a certain likelihood in this line of approach, Lee’s own accounts suggest
that he arrived at his racial views as a result of observation, empirical enquiry and
study as an adult: “I started off believing all men were equal. I now know that’s the
most unlikely thing ever to have been, because millions of years have passed over
evolution, people have scattered across the face of this earth, been isolated from each
other, developed independently had different intermixtures between races, peoples,
climates, soils. …I didn’t start off with that knowledge. But by observation, reading,
watching, arguing, asking, that is the conclusion I’ve come to.” (38)
Lee maintains that at some stage before the late 1960s he had acted under the

assumption that all races were equal, but bitter disappointment convinced him that the

reality was otherwise: “When we were faced with the reality that, in fact, equal
opportunities did not bring about more equal results, we were faced with [an]
ideological dilemma. … In other words, this Bell curve, which Murray and Herrnstein
wrote about, became obvious to us by the late ’60s.” (39)
The evolution of Lee’s racism was a long process. According to Lee himself he
began to form his views on race while he was a student in London. (40) He has
described how his ideas firmed in 1956 on a visit to Europe and London, (41) and
then reached their full force in the Malaysia period. (42) The details and implications
of Lee’s account of the development of his racial views are considered later in this
article, but one must be sceptical that his adult mind was ever a tabula rasa on the
question of race. Lee likes to consider himself a pure empiricist who can rise above
preconceptions and prejudices, but it seems reasonable to assume that the very
questions he asked as an adult, and his early fascination with questions of race sprang
from an existing, possibly unconscious world view in which race was an all-pervasive
Lee may have brought the kernel of his racial prejudices intact from childhood,
but as an adult he has woven an intricate argument to rationalise and develop his view.
His argument rests on four pillars: an environmental determinism based upon a
distortion of Arnold Toynbee’s “Challenge and Response” thesis; a medieval scientism
which gives an important role to ductless glands in determining a person’s and a

people’s drive to achieve; a Lamarckian view of evolution; and a belief in

culturally-based eugenics and dysgenics. The influence of Arnold Toynbee on Lee
since the mid-1960s is well documented in speeches and inter-views. From 1967
onwards Lee acknowledged Toynbee as a source of his ideas. (44) It is less
well-known that Lee began quoting Toynbee’s “Challenge and Response” thesis in
Cabinet meetings as soon as the PAP came to power in 1959, (45) and that Toynbee
was widely read and vigorously discussed in Lee’s circle of friends at Cambridge
University. (46) The connection between Toynbee’s thesis and Lee Kuan Yew’s racial
beliefs is convoluted, but it is the lynch pin of Lee’s rationalisation of his Chinese
racial suprematism.
Lee found an unwitting ally for his views on cultural suprematism in the

Scandinavian social scientist, Gunnar Myrdal. The connection was made by Lee
himself in his 1971 commemorative lecture at his old college at Cambridge University,
in which he argued this case at length: “It is in part the difference between the more
intense and exacting Sinic cultures of East Asia and the less demanding values of
Hindu culture of South and South-east Asia, that accounts for the difference in
industrial progress between Eastern and Southern Asia. The softer and more benign
Hindu civilisation spread through Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, meeting the
Sinic civilisation on the borders of Vietnam….
Gunnar Myrdal, in his “Asian Drama” (52) voluminously sets out the reasons for
lower achievements amongst these peoples [of South and South-cast Asia]. He terms
them “soft societies.” Their expectations and desire for achievement are lower. Had he
studied the Sinic civilisations of East Asia – Korea, Japan, China and Vietnam – he
would have come to the opposite conclusions, that these were hard societies. (53)
While references to Gunnar Myrdal began only after the publication of Myrdal’s
Asian Drama in 1968, Lee had expressed similar views long before this. In 1965, at
the height of both Indonesia’s Confrontation with Malaysia, and Singapore’s
difficulties with Kuala Lumpur, Lee made a revealing speech in which he dismissed
the threat from Indonesia because of the soft and indulgent nature of its culture,
though at this stage the term “soft culture” was not part of Lee’s vocabulary: “…these
were not cultures which created societies capable of intense discipline, concentrated
effort over sustained periods. Climate, the effects of relatively abundant society and
the tropical conditions produced a people largely extrovert, easy-going and leisurely.
They’ve got their wars, they have their periods of greatness when the Hindus came in
the 7th and again in the l2th centuries in the Majapahit and the Srivijaya empires. But
in between the ruins of Borobudur and what you have of Indonesia today, you see a
people primarily self-indulgent.” (54) These are merely two examples of Lee’s many
Myrdalian statements which express a condescending attitude towards the indigenous
cultures of South and Southeast Asia.
There are three noteworthy points in this excerpt, apart from the confirmation of
Lee’s environmental determinism. First, the reference to the Mayan Civilisation is
almost certainly derived directly from Arnold Toynbee’s Study. (56) Second, Lee has
either overlooked or dismissed the former greatness of the Javanese Culture, since
acknowledging it would have qualified his theory of environmental determinism.
Third, this quotation introduces Lee’s idiosyncratic ideas about the role of glands, and
allows Lee to take a deft step from justification by culture to justification by
physiology and thus genetics.
According to Lee, ductless glands, especially the adrenal gland, play a crucial
role in determining the drive of people, both as individuals and as races. In 1966, Lee
told the Socialist International: “There are believed to be two influences on the
efficacy of human resources. First, biological, and second cultural factors.
Anthropologists all emphasize the cultural influence as the factor which causes
variations in capacity between men, tribes and nations but they do not discount
altogether the possibility of biological differences between man and man because of
differences in their ductless glands. I would have certain reservations about attributing
all differences completely to cultural factors for I remember the Australian aborigines,
who, in spite of considerable exposure to a new, society they were suddenly
confronted with, have yet been unable to adjust and to emerge as an equal in his new
environment. As against that. we have the negroes in Africa transported into slavery in
America who have emerged as scientists, doctors, lawyers, boxers, high jumpers,
runners and so on.” (57)
Lee developed, or at least rationalised, his Lamarckian theories during his two
month tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1965, though his thoughts had been
turned in this direction for some time. Soon after his return from the tour, Lee gave a
lecture to public servants at the Political Study Centre. There he told his audience that
he began his tour grappling with the problems of large scale migration. He was
fascinated by the similarities between Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, in so far
as they are all new communities built by migrants from nothing. (61) Throughout the
tour, Lee’s preconceived but unclear ideas were confirmed and he became
increasingly convinced that the similarities between Australia, New Zealand and
Singapore were of major significance in that each of them were migrant communities
which were evolving further away from their original stock.” (62) Lee opined that the
tough migrant cultures of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore had produced
societies with “a tremendous amount of enterprise” which he characterised as a
“frontier spirit.” (63) The problem in Lee’s mind, however, was that as prosperity
comes to a migrant people, life becomes easier, the culture becomes softer, and the
genes “go down”:
“We are not unlike the other migrant groups in the South Pacific. We share a lot
of their characteristics. We share a lot of their problems. And one of these problems is
to secure what we have created for prosperity. Which means, you and me, the genes
going down. …You have come with certain equipment. Your cultural values, your
habit patterns, your techniques, the drive, the push, the thrust, to conquer nature and
make a life. But in the process you become a different people.” (64)
Dilemma, which argued in part: “Malays abhor the state of celibacy. To remain
unmarried was and is considered shameful. Everyone must be married at some time or
other. The result is that whether a person is fit or unfit for marriage, he or she still
marries and reproduces. An idiot or a simpleton is often married off to an old widower,
ostensibly to take care of him in his old age. If this is not possible, backward relatives
are paired off in marriage. These people survive, reproduce and propagate their
species. The cumulative effect of this can be left to the imagination.” (79)
Of these and other arguments which purportedly account for the supposed
backwardness of Malays, Lee said: “From that book I realised that [Dr Mahathir]
believed in it as a medical man – that these were problems of the development of the
Malay race, Anthropological problems, and these were strongly-held views. Indeed, I
found myself in agreement with three-quarters of his analysis of the problem – that the
Malays had always withdrawn from competition and never really entered into the
mainstream of economic activity; that the Malays would always get their children or
relatives married off regardless of whether it was good or bad.” (80)
The Ashkenazi Jews, on the other hand, are among an elite of races which have a
thoroughly eugenic culture: “From the 10th to 11th century inEurope, in Ashkenazim,
the practice developed of the rabbi becoming the most desirable son-in-law because
he is usually the brightest of the flock. … So he becomes the richest and wealthiest.
He marries young, is successful, probably bright. He has large numbers of children
and the brightest of the children will become the rabbi and so it goes on.” (81)
“On my first visit to Germany in 1956,we had to stop in Frankfurt on our way to
London. We had [earlier] stopped in Rome. This languid Italian voice over the
loudspeaker said something … And there were Italian workers trundling trolleys at the
airport. It was so relaxed, the atmosphere and the pace of work. Then the next stop
was Frankfurt. And immediately, the climate was a bit cooler and chillier. And a voice
came across the loudspeaker: “Achtung! Achtung! ” The chaps were the same, porters,
but bigger-sized and trundling away. These were people who were defeated and
completely destroyed and they were rebuilding. I could sense the goal, the
dynamism. … I also visited Switzerland when I was a student in ’47, ’48, on holiday. I
came down by train from Paris to Geneva. Paris was black bread, dirty, after the war. I
arrived at Geneva that morning, sleeping overnight. It was marvellous. Clean,
beautiful, swept streets, nice buildings, marvellous white pillowcases and sheets,
white bread after dark dirty bread and abundant food and so on. But hardworking,
punctilious, the way they did your bed and cleaned up your rooms. It told me
something about why some people succeed and some people don’t. Switzerland has a
small population. If they didn’t have those qualities, they would have been
overrun …(86)
Lee did not spell out explicitly the logic of environmental determinism, but this
passage reveals an emerging pattern in Lee’s thinking. First, he is apparently blessed
with the ability to determine a culture’s character from an airport stopover or froma
short holiday. Second, cultures which evolved in cooler, harsher climates were more
worthy of his admiration than those which developed in warmer and more sultry
climes. Although he did not highlight the climatic difference between Geneva and
Paris, as he did between Frankfurt and Rome, it is unlikely to be a coincidence that in
both instances Lee perceived the harsher, cooler climate as having produced the
“people who succeed.”
Lee’s perception of the migrant’s good glands is actually critical to his racial
hierarchy as it applies in Singapore, since most Singaporean Chinese are descended
from illiterate peasants who, in China’s culturally eugenic society, would normally be
“neutered.” Lee’s emphasis on the migrant’s good glands flatly contradicts his elitism,
the logic of cultural eugenicism, and his usual practice of blindly equaling economic
status with talent and intelligence. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that it is a
rationalisation developed specifically for the “benefit” of Southeast Asia’s Chinese
population who, on the basis of his usual logic, should be dumb and slow. The fact
that Lee resorts to such a deft piece of sophistry supports the argument that his racial
world view, as explained and defended in adulthood, is an attempt to justify his
preconceived notions of the racial hierarchy, rather than the result of dispassionate
logic applied to empirical evidence. While his adult experiences probably did
influence the development of his world view and his political thought, the essence of
his conclusions regarding the hierarchy of Asian races owes more to the prejudices he
learnt as a child than it does to his observations of the porters at Rome and Frankfurt
airports, or to his reading or Arnold Toynbee and Gunnar Myrdal. (88)
And so Mr. Barr arrive:
This article has described in detail the character of Lee Kuan Yew’s racial views
substantially using his own words as evidence. After a lifetime of being circumspect
on the question of race, Lee has finally spoken openly, revealing himself as
doctrinaire racist
Maybe some one could look into Mr. Barr childhood?

The debate about immigrants has often divided the population and, the claim goes, the past 20 years has taken a right-wing and xenophobic turn, led by anti-immigrant crusader Pia Kjærsgaard of the Danish People’s Party.

But according to the two authors – Henning Bech of the University of Copenhagen and Mehmet Ümit Necef of the University of Southern Denmark – much of the research conducted on immigrants over the past 20 years that has claimed growing racism in Denmark, does not uphold scientific ideals.

»Unfortunately, Necef and I have found many cases where researchers’ interpretation of this or that as ‘racism’ is not OK« says Henning Bech to the University Post.

It is this type of un-documented research that has led to the perception of Denmark as a xenophobic nation.

Mr. Barr in a pamflet from NIAS, NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, The many faces of Islam,


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