When I check my site tracker, I see a lot of readers from Malaysia looking for news on Ayah Pin. So here's my thought for today....why on earth would people from Malaysia read my blog? Hell, I teach US history and therefore understand something about foreign policy and politics in general, but what I know about Malaysia is entirely gained from the internet, and my understanding of the situation is probably wrong or off in some key respects.
The web is a weird and wonderful thing, whose techno-magic was celebrated? last night in the new Jim Jarmusch movie, "Broken Flowers," one of whose characters uses it for answers to some of life's greatest mysteries. One of the things I've been trying to figure out on the web in relation to Malaysia is how a government can be both secular and have a state religion at the same time. Every source I read on the internet said that Malaysia had a state religion and that the ruling party defines itself as moderately Muslim, which is one of the reasons why the Bush admin wants to maintain a good relationship with them (for Muslim world PR). Nonetheless, a few people responded to my dkos diaries on the Ayah Pin situation by saying that Malaysia is not a Muslim state, but a secular one, with much more religious states within it. It is not Malaysia, but Terregganu, these commenters said, that is religious. But isn't Terregganu in Malaysia? How is it possible that Malaysia is a "secular" government, if one of the states ruled by the Malaysian federal constitution enforces religious law? Is this just the commenter's confusion with the term "secular"?
Closer to Home: For regular updates on Cindy Sheehan and for photos (most recently of the right wing counter protest), go to The Lone-Star Iconoclast. This dkos diary has a good run-down of the recent Washington Post article on Sheehan.