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OPINION: Malaysians Get Along Because Cultural Diversity Is Embraced, Americans Fight Because We Pretend Everybody Is The Same

Malaysians truly appreciate cultural diversity.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia- Malaysians are incredibly straight forward about cultural differences, and this is one of the main reasons the society generally gets along. Nobody is pretending that everybody is the same. The country is predominately made up of Malays, Chinese, and Indians — three very different cultures with different religions, different languages, different histories, different customs — and most people clearly understand Us from the Other, and it works. Everybody celebrates each other’s holidays, people talk to each other about their cultural differences, but nobody makes any bones about the fact that they are different. There are lines that they do not cross.

In the USA we seem to have made “different” into a lesser than/greater than dichotomy. We claim to celebrate cultural diversity but as soon as you make mention of something diverse you’re called a bigot, a racist, or a proliferator of stereotypes. In a country of magnificent cultural diversity, to admit that you notice it is a fundamental taboo.

We don’t embrace diversity, we embrace de-constructionist middle class liberal morality, which is one of the most fascist and restrictive social doctrines that I have ever observed in 82 or so countries.

Rather, we pretend that everybody is the same as each other, which, in my opinion is actually the most disrespectful, offensive thing that you can do.

But culture is real: people from a certain place, of a certain social subset, from a certain social class tend to have certain views and opinions. Red states and blue states are not random accidents. In fact, there is very little that is random about culture — it’s actually a very proscribed thing.

But Americans seem to think that admitting to being products of our culture is an assault on our individuality; we seem to confuse culture with stereotypes.

It’s funny to listen to 20-something liberals from some relatively wealthy suburb of a big US city talk about social issues. They are all from the same place and they all say the same things and then come out of it thinking that they are individuals unswayed by their cultural upbringing.

I’m a Buffalo person and I think like a Buffalo person. My humor is that of a Buffalo person and I get along best with Buffalo people .. and we go out to Orchard Park eight times per year clad in red, white, and blue to celebrate ourselves.

It only took me decades of travel to realize this.

We have convinced ourselves that everybody is the same as we are — a very dangerous position to hold in such a diverse country.


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Filed under: Culture and Society, Malaysia

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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