Hyper-partisanship & Friendship
Back in 1999 when I was attending college I had a friend named Bob*. We used to hang out with mutual friends; watch movies at the cinema; play pool etc.
Then the Reformasi period happened - Anwar’s trial; PKR’s formation; preparation for election etc. I became an Opposition (PAS) supporter - then after its formation, a PKR member.
When Bob found out I supported Anwar, he immediately ended our friendship. Apparently he and his family hated Anwar with a passion. His brother even mimed sodomy with another guy in the college compound, saying ‘Look at me! I’m Anwar!’.
Bob refused to speak to me. Whenever I said hello, even when bumping into him years later, I would just get a cold hard stare.
Bob’s response is an example of hyper-partisanship.
In American politics its a phrase commonly used to describe partisan politics that focus on helping fellows and destroying the enemy, where the enemy is anyone who disagrees with your position.
In Malaysia I feel that its a form of extreme partisan thinking where not only are opinions, policies and events somehow linked to a political side, but anyone who disagrees is ‘placed’ into the opposing side. There’s less focus on helping fellows, and more focus on attacking the enemy.
When dealing with hyper-partisan people, there is no option to remain neutral, support an alternative view or support a balanced view. You either strongly support their view or you are their enemy. And sad to say, like Bob, they only socialise with people who agree with their political views.
Why should friendship depend on, or be affected by, political affiliation? Its not like I personally wronged him. I wasn’t bothered by Bob supporting BN or hating Anwar, because until today I don’t see why it should affect me. But for some reason he saw it fit to cut ties with me.
I think deciding who to be friends with based solely on political views is just plain silly. A difference of opinion should not lead to such action.
I wonder if any of my friends today have this mentality.
*not his real name