Perpetuating Institutional Prejudice | The West Papuans

Perpetuating Institutional Prejudice | The West Papuans

Intercontinental Cry

By Jay Taber

Feb 4, 2013

It is difficult to say whether author Jared Diamond writes from ignorance or malice, but his distorted perception of tribal peoples is certainly getting a lot of attention. As an act of sensationalist self-promotion, perhaps his neoliberal views so eagerly embraced by Wall Street are merely show business, something to guarantee his nonsense will become a best-seller. Such is the nature of market ethics.

As Galdu reports, though, perpetuating institutional prejudice has real world consequences, and authors who promote bigotry for profit must be held accountable. In the case of the West Papuans, those consequences include retroactive justification to US funding for Indonesian military death squads that have murdered 100,000 West Papuans in pursuit of plundering their territory alongside Australian, Canadian and American corporations.

As Papuan tribal leader Benny Wenda remarked, “What Diamond has written about my people is misleading about what the Indonesian military are doing. Indonesia tried to pretend that it was us that was violent and not them. This book is doing the same.” For readers who want to learn more, the West Papua Information Kit provides the historical background of the conflict.


[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, an author, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project.]


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