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 DarwinistThis article has described in detail the character of Lee Kuan Yew’s racial viewssubstantially using his own words as evidence. After a lifetime of being circumspecton the question of race, Lee has finally spoken openly, revealing himself asdoctrinaire racist. Yet it would be a mistake to condemn Lee as a hard line racist inevery sense of the word. Such a characterisation of his views would be a distortion ofboth his logic and his natural disposition. There can be no doubt that Lee is a racist inthe sense that he believes that some races and some ethnically-based cultures areinherently 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 politicalagenda and he has created a regime which accentuates racial categorisation. Thisassertion, too, is beyond dispute, yet it should be acknowledged that affirmativeaction programmes in the United States and Australia are based upon racialclassifications and are widely accepted as part of modem liberal orthodoxy. Of equalsignificance to our study of his political thought are the aspects of political andpersonal racism that Lee has avoided by his eclectic approach. Lee’s idiosyncraticrationalisation of his racial views, for instance, has undermined the tendency todismiss any race as being irredeemably inferior, or unchangeably superior. He has notconceived of any race as being supreme, even though some are more intelligent andhardier than others. Unlike Social Darwinian racists, he does not base his views on theassumption that any race is a lower or higher evolutionary form of humanity. He seesno unbridgeable divide between races. Although his environmental determinism,Lamarckian view of evolution and cultural eugenicism may explain the higherintelligence and better glands of those who hail from a “hard” society, they also createa firm line of continuity between the different races, and give each race the capacity tochange for the better or the worse: hence Lee’s efforts to “improve” racialcommunities by “tinkering” with their cultures. (89) The result has been that despiteinstances of overt racial discrimination by Lee’s government, and more commonoccasions of discrimination in Singaporean society, Lee has created a society whichhas a relatively low level of racial tension, despite having a high level of racialconsciousness. Considering his own racial views and the nature of the society heinherited, this is a remarkable achievement which, despite its shortcomings, should beacknowledged.
Racism is rarely far from the surface of Asian societies, and this is especially trueof those multiracial societies that feel the need to promote racial tolerance as part ofofficial ideology. Yet even in these cases, promoting racial tolerance does notnecessarily imply the promotion of racial indifference. Singapore’s multiracialism, forinstance, 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 favourof the majority Chinese and against the minorities, especially the Malays. This articleis an attempt to advance our understanding of Singapore’s idiosyncratic version ofmultiracialism by casting new light on the thinking of its primary architect, SeniorMinister Lee Kuan Yew.
Understanding any aspect of Lee Kuan Yew’s career requires a syncreticapproach. but fully understanding his racial views stretches holistic analysis to newlimits. Lee’s views on race have been a matter of much private, but little publishedcomment. This now changes with the publication of his authorised biography,LeeKuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas, (7) in which Lee speaks about race withunprecedented candour. Upon close inspection, Lee’s racial beliefs prove not to be anaberration or idiosyncrasy in his thinking, but the consummation of his world viewand his political thought.…Without a hint of irony, Lee also took the opportunity toassure Malays that they need not fear Hong Kong immigrants taking their jobsbecause the immigrants will all be high income earners. In 1977 Lee treatedParliament to a four hour post-election victory speech which could best be describedas “uninhibited.” In this speech, Lee told the multi-racial chamber, “I understand theEnglishman. He knows deep in his heart that he is superior to the Welshman and theScotsman…. Deep here, I am a Chinaman.” (12) In recent times, Lee has not onlybeen more forthright about his racial views but he has also confirmed that he heldthem at least as early as the beginning of the 1970s. In October 1989, in an interviewwith Malaysia’s New Straits Times Lee revealed that after he read Mahathir Mohamad’sThe Malay, Dilemma (13) in 1971 in 1971 or 1972, he found himself “inagreement with three-quarters of his analysis of the problem” of the economic andeducational under-performance of the Malays. (14) According to Lee and Mahathir,the problem was both cultural and genetic. (15) Lee noted with approval thatMahathir’s views were the “result of his medical training, and… he was not likely tochange them.” (16)…At this stage it is important to consider the origins of Lee’s racial views. It isnatural 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 suggestthat he arrived at his racial views as a result of observation, empirical enquiry andstudy as an adult: “I started off believing all men were equal. I now know that’s themost unlikely thing ever to have been, because millions of years have passed overevolution, people have scattered across the face of this earth, been isolated from eachother, 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 thereality was otherwise: “When we were faced with the reality that, in fact, equalopportunities did not bring about more equal results, we were faced with [an]ideological dilemma. … In other words, this Bell curve, which Murray and Herrnsteinwrote about, became obvious to us by the late ’60s.” (39)The evolution of Lee’s racism was a long process. According to Lee himself hebegan to form his views on race while he was a student in London. (40) He hasdescribed how his ideas firmed in 1956 on a visit to Europe and London, (41) andthen reached their full force in the Malaysia period. (42) The details and implicationsof Lee’s account of the development of his racial views are considered later in thisarticle, but one must be sceptical that his adult mind was ever a tabula rasa on thequestion of race. Lee likes to consider himself a pure empiricist who can rise abovepreconceptions and prejudices, but it seems reasonable to assume that the veryquestions he asked as an adult, and his early fascination with questions of race sprangfrom an existing, possibly unconscious world view in which race was an all-pervasivefeature.…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 adistortion of Arnold Toynbee’s “Challenge and Response” thesis; a medieval scientismwhich 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 inculturally-based eugenics and dysgenics. The influence of Arnold Toynbee on Leesince the mid-1960s is well documented in speeches and inter-views. From 1967onwards Lee acknowledged Toynbee as a source of his ideas. (44) It is lesswell-known that Lee began quoting Toynbee’s “Challenge and Response” thesis inCabinet meetings as soon as the PAP came to power in 1959, (45) and that Toynbeewas widely read and vigorously discussed in Lee’s circle of friends at CambridgeUniversity. (46) The connection between Toynbee’s thesis and Lee Kuan Yew’s racialbeliefs is convoluted, but it is the lynch pin of Lee’s rationalisation of his Chineseracial suprematism.…Lee found an unwitting ally for his views on cultural suprematism in theScandinavian social scientist, Gunnar Myrdal. The connection was made by Leehimself 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 moreintense and exacting Sinic cultures of East Asia and the less demanding values ofHindu culture of South and South-east Asia, that accounts for the difference inindustrial progress between Eastern and Southern Asia. The softer and more benignHindu civilisation spread through Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, meeting theSinic civilisation on the borders of Vietnam….Gunnar Myrdal, in his “Asian Drama” (52) voluminously sets out the reasons forlower achievements amongst these peoples [of South and South-cast Asia]. He termsthem “soft societies.” Their expectations and desire for achievement are lower. Had hestudied the Sinic civilisations of East Asia – Korea, Japan, China and Vietnam – hewould have come to the opposite conclusions, that these were hard societies. (53)While references to Gunnar Myrdal began only after the publication of Myrdal’sAsian Drama in 1968, Lee had expressed similar views long before this. In 1965, atthe height of both Indonesia’s Confrontation with Malaysia, and Singapore’sdifficulties with Kuala Lumpur, Lee made a revealing speech in which he dismissedthe 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: “…thesewere not cultures which created societies capable of intense discipline, concentratedeffort over sustained periods. Climate, the effects of relatively abundant society andthe 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 inthe 7th and again in the l2th centuries in the Majapahit and the Srivijaya empires. Butin between the ruins of Borobudur and what you have of Indonesia today, you see apeople primarily self-indulgent.” (54) These are merely two examples of Lee’s manyMyrdalian statements which express a condescending attitude towards the indigenouscultures of South and Southeast Asia.…There are three noteworthy points in this excerpt, apart from the confirmation ofLee’s environmental determinism. First, the reference to the Mayan Civilisation isalmost certainly derived directly from Arnold Toynbee’s Study. (56) Second, Lee haseither overlooked or dismissed the former greatness of the Javanese Culture, sinceacknowledging it would have qualified his theory of environmental determinism.Third, this quotation introduces Lee’s idiosyncratic ideas about the role of glands, andallows Lee to take a deft step from justification by culture to justification byphysiology and thus genetics.…According to Lee, ductless glands, especially the adrenal gland, play a crucialrole in determining the drive of people, both as individuals and as races. In 1966, Leetold the Socialist International: “There are believed to be two influences on theefficacy of human resources. First, biological, and second cultural factors.Anthropologists all emphasize the cultural influence as the factor which causesvariations in capacity between men, tribes and nations but they do not discountaltogether the possibility of biological differences between man and man because ofdifferences in their ductless glands. I would have certain reservations about attributingall differences completely to cultural factors for I remember the Australian aborigines,who, in spite of considerable exposure to a new, society they were suddenlyconfronted with, have yet been unable to adjust and to emerge as an equal in his newenvironment. As against that. we have the negroes in Africa transported into slavery inAmerica 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 twomonth tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1965, though his thoughts had beenturned in this direction for some time. Soon after his return from the tour, Lee gave alecture to public servants at the Political Study Centre. There he told his audience thathe began his tour grappling with the problems of large scale migration. He wasfascinated by the similarities between Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, in so faras they are all new communities built by migrants from nothing. (61) Throughout thetour, Lee’s preconceived but unclear ideas were confirmed and he becameincreasingly convinced that the similarities between Australia, New Zealand andSingapore were of major significance in that each of them were migrant communitieswhich were evolving further away from their original stock.” (62) Lee opined that thetough migrant cultures of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore had producedsocieties with “a tremendous amount of enterprise” which he characterised as a“frontier spirit.” (63) The problem in Lee’s mind, however, was that as prosperitycomes to a migrant people, life becomes easier, the culture becomes softer, and thegenes “go down”:“We are not unlike the other migrant groups in the South Pacific. We share a lotof their characteristics. We share a lot of their problems. And one of these problems isto secure what we have created for prosperity. Which means, you and me, the genesgoing down. …You have come with certain equipment. Your cultural values, yourhabit patterns, your techniques, the drive, the push, the thrust, to conquer nature andmake a life. But in the process you become a different people.” (64)…Dilemma, which argued in part: “Malays abhor the state of celibacy. To remainunmarried was and is considered shameful. Everyone must be married at some time orother. The result is that whether a person is fit or unfit for marriage, he or she stillmarries 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 relativesare paired off in marriage. These people survive, reproduce and propagate theirspecies. The cumulative effect of this can be left to the imagination.” (79)Of these and other arguments which purportedly account for the supposedbackwardness 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 theMalay race, Anthropological problems, and these were strongly-held views. Indeed, Ifound myself in agreement with three-quarters of his analysis of the problem – that theMalays had always withdrawn from competition and never really entered into themainstream of economic activity; that the Malays would always get their children orrelatives 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 athoroughly eugenic culture: “From the 10th to 11th century inEurope, in Ashkenazim,the practice developed of the rabbi becoming the most desirable son-in-law becausehe 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 childrenand 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 toLondon. We had [earlier] stopped in Rome. This languid Italian voice over theloudspeaker said something … And there were Italian workers trundling trolleys at theairport. It was so relaxed, the atmosphere and the pace of work. Then the next stopwas Frankfurt. And immediately, the climate was a bit cooler and chillier. And a voicecame across the loudspeaker: “Achtung! Achtung! ” The chaps were the same, porters,but bigger-sized and trundling away. These were people who were defeated andcompletely destroyed and they were rebuilding. I could sense the goal, thedynamism. … I also visited Switzerland when I was a student in ’47, ’48, on holiday. Icame down by train from Paris to Geneva. Paris was black bread, dirty, after the war. Iarrived 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 mesomething about why some people succeed and some people don’t. Switzerland has asmall population. If they didn’t have those qualities, they would have beenoverrun …(86)Lee did not spell out explicitly the logic of environmental determinism, but thispassage reveals an emerging pattern in Lee’s thinking. First, he is apparently blessedwith the ability to determine a culture’s character from an airport stopover or fromashort holiday. Second, cultures which evolved in cooler, harsher climates were moreworthy of his admiration than those which developed in warmer and more sultryclimes. Although he did not highlight the climatic difference between Geneva andParis, as he did between Frankfurt and Rome, it is unlikely to be a coincidence that inboth 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 racialhierarchy as it applies in Singapore, since most Singaporean Chinese are descendedfrom 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 economicstatus with talent and intelligence. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that it is arationalisation developed specifically for the “benefit” of Southeast Asia’s Chinesepopulation who, on the basis of his usual logic, should be dumb and slow. The factthat Lee resorts to such a deft piece of sophistry supports the argument that his racialworld view, as explained and defended in adulthood, is an attempt to justify hispreconceived notions of the racial hierarchy, rather than the result of dispassionatelogic applied to empirical evidence. While his adult experiences probably didinfluence the development of his world view and his political thought, the essence ofhis conclusions regarding the hierarchy of Asian races owes more to the prejudices helearnt as a child than it does to his observations of the porters at Rome and Frankfurtairports, or to his reading or Arnold Toynbee and Gunnar Myrdal. (88)
This article has described in detail the character of Lee Kuan Yew’s racial viewssubstantially using his own words as evidence. After a lifetime of being circumspecton the question of race, Lee has finally spoken openly, revealing himself asdoctrinaire racist
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,