JJC Promotional Compre 04 - Singapore, Religion and Discrimination

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Passage A

My name is Arturo Madrid. I am a citizen of the United States, as are my parents and as were my grandparents and my great-grandparents. My ancestors’ presence in what is now the United States antedates Plymouth Rock*, even without taking into account any American Indian heritage I might have.

I do not, however, fit those mental sets that define America and Americans. My physical appearance, my speech patterns, my name, my profession (a professor of Spanish) create a text that confuses the reader. I am, however, very clearly the other, if only your everyday, garden-variety, domestic other. But I’ve always known that I was the other, even before I knew the vocabulary or understood the significance of otherness.

Being the other involves contradictory phenomena. On the one hand being the other frequently means being invisible. On the other hand, being the other sometimes involves sticking out like a sore thumb. For some of us being the other is only annoying; for others it is debilitating; for still others it is damning. Many try to flee otherness by taking on protective colorations that provide invisibility, whether of dress or speech or manner or name. Only a fortunate few succeed. For the majority of us otherness is permanently sealed by physical appearance. For the rest, otherness is betrayed by ways of being, speaking, or doing.

Since 1965 the principal demographic growth we have experienced in the United States has been of peoples whose national origins are non-European. This population growth has occurred both through birth and through immigration. Therefore, we now live in one of the most demographically diverse nations in the world, and one that is increasingly more so.

In view of these demographic changes that are taking place in our society we need to take up the struggle again. As educated and educator members of this society we have a special responsibility for ensuring that all American institutions, not just our elementary and secondary schools, our juvenile halls, or our jails, reflect the diversity of our society. Not to do so is to risk greater alienation on the part of a growing segment of our society; is to risk greater tension in an already conflictive world; and, ultimately, is to risk the survival of a range of institutions that, for all their defects and deficiencies, provide us the opportunity and the freedom to improve our individual and collective lot.

Because diversity the other is among us, it will define and determine our lives in ways that we still do not fully appreciate, whether that other is women or Asians, African-Americans, Indians, and Hispanics; or our newest immigrants. Given the changing profile of America, will we come to terms with diversity in our personal and professional lives? Will we begin to recognize the diverse forms that quality can take? If so, we will thus initiate the process of making quality limitless in its manifestations, infinite in quantity, unrestricted with respect to its origins, and more importantly, virulently contagious.

I hope we will.

(Adapted from Arturo Madrid’s Diversity and Its Discontents in Understanding Inequality)

* Plymouth Rock was the landing place of the first British pilgrims in America

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Passage B

It is now widely accepted that "diversity" is an appropriate goal for society. But what does this dictum actually mean? Racial integration is a valid objective, but that is something very different from what the advocates of "diversity" seek. According to its proponents, we need "diversity" in order to be exposed to new perspectives on life. We supposedly gain "enrichment from the differences in viewpoint of minorities," as the MIT Faculty Newsletter puts it. "It is the only way to prepare students to live and work effectively in our diverse democracy and in the global economy," says the president of the University of Michigan. Minorities should be given preferential treatment, the university's vice-president says, because "learning in a diverse environment benefits all students, minority and majority alike."

These circumlocutions translate simply into this: one's race determines the content of one's mind. They imply that people have worthwhile views to express because of their ethnicity, and that "diversity" enables us to encounter "black ideas," "Hispanic ideas," etc. What could be more repulsively racist than that? This is exactly the premise held by the South's slave-owners and by the Nazis' Storm Troopers. They too believed that an individual's thoughts and actions are determined by his racial heritage.

Whether a given race receives special rewards or special punishments is immaterial. The essence of racism is the idea that the individual is meaningless and that membership in the collective — the race — is the source of his identity and value. To the racist, the individual's moral and intellectual character is the product, not of his own choices, but of the genes he shares with all others of his race. To the racist, the particular members of a given race are interchangeable.

The advocates of "diversity" similarly believe that colleges must admit not individuals, but "representatives" of various races. They believe that those representatives have certain ideas innately imprinted on their minds, and that giving preferences to minority races creates a "diversity" of viewpoints on campus. They have the quota-mentality, which holds that in judging someone, the salient fact is the racial collective to which he belongs.

This philosophy is why racial division is growing at our colleges. The segregated dormitories, the segregated cafeterias, the segregated fraternities — these all exist, not in spite of the commitment to "diversity," but because of it. The overriding message of "diversity," transmitted by the policies of a school's administration and by the teachings of a school's professors, is that the individual is defined by his race. What, then, is a more loyal adherence to that message than the desire to associate with members of one's own race and to regard others as belonging to an alien tribe?

If racism is to be rejected, it is the premise of individualism, including individual free will, which must be upheld. There is no way to bring about racial integration except by completely disregarding color. There is no benefit in being exposed to the thoughts of a black person as opposed to a white person; there is a benefit only in interacting with individuals, of any race, who have rational viewpoints to offer.

The value of a racially integrated student body or work force lies entirely in the individualism this implies. A racially integrated group implies that skin color is irrelevant in judging human beings. It implies that those who chose the students or the workers based their evaluations only on that which reflects upon the individual: merit. But that is not what the advocates of "diversity" want. They sneer at the principle of "color-blindness." Whether the issue is being admitted to college or getting a job at a corporation or being cast as an actor on TV shows, the "diversity" supporters want such decisions to be made exactly the way that the vilest of racists make them: by bloodline. They insist that whatever is a result of your own choices — your ideas, your character, your accomplishments — is to be dismissed, while that which is outside your control — the accident of skin color — is to define your life. Their fundamental goal is to "diversify" — and thus to undercut — the standard of individual achievement with the non-standard of race.

(Adapted from Peter Schwartz’s The Racism of “Diversity”)

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8 In 1988, Arturo Madrid advocated embracing diversity in the United States. However in 2004, Peter

Schwartz asserts that diversity results in racism.

In the light of these opposing views, examine how your society addresses the issue of multi-ethnicity. Discuss with reference to the texts and your own ideas and experiences. [10]

Ideas from Passage A

Suggested relevant information on Singapore

…being the other frequently means being invisible … sometimes involves sticking out like a sore thumb. (L11)

In Singapore, often the majority neglect to include minority groups in their social interactions though at other times the latter could be conspicuous. Because some companies prefer to hire those of the majority race, citing use of the mother tongue as a reason, the Equal Employment Act and other efforts have been made to educate employers.

... we have a special responsibility for ensuring that all American institutions … reflect the diversity of our society. (L26)

Political

In Singapore, the government implements policies that ensure there is representation of all races eg. the setting up of GRCs in the political system; requesting the Eurasian community to nominate individuals to represent them as NMPs; current President and one Deputy PM are Indians.

Education

Schools have a multicultural population. Students celebrate Racial Harmony Day to remind them of the importance of maintaining racial cohesion. National Education exposes students to the importance of inter-racial understanding.

Language

Official languages include Malay, Tamil, Chinese and English the common language.

Religion

Places of worship are respected and the right to worship is protected by law.

Housing

We enforce an ethnic quota to prevent any group being over-represented in our public housing estates.

Defence

National Service is compulsory and minorities do hold high positions in the army.

Not to do so is to risk greater alienation … to risk greater tension in an already conflictive world …to risk the survival of a range of institutions … (L28)

· Singapore society operates on the principle of multi-culturalism. It is an inclusive society that considers the views of all ethnic groups before government policies are adopted such as the laws governing organ donation and cloning.

· There is cooperation among the leaders of various religions and they organise visits to the different places of worship for their followers to gain a better understanding. They donate generously to each other's welfare groups.

· Activities like fund raising for charities and celebration of festivals are community events.

· Grassroots leaders have formed inter-religious harmony circles to promote greater understanding.

Because diversity — the other — is among us, it will define and determine our lives in ways we still do not fully appreciate …(L33)

· Singapore's support of Iraq and the detention of the Jemiah Islamiah members were fully explained to the Malay community.

· Singaporeans are cultured into being constantly sensitive to other ethnic groups' beliefs and ways of life such as ensuring there is halal food for the Muslims at community functions.

· Singaporeans do appreciate and enjoy the diversity in our society particularly in the celebration of each other's festivals and cuisine. Eating is the best way to acknowledge this diversity.

· Television programmes are enjoyed by all with the help of subtitles. Celebrities from Bollywood were recently welcomed not only by Indians but others as well.

· Chan Brothers a major travel agent is now offering a tour package to Australia's Gold Coast that is targeted at Muslims, who need halal meals, stops for daily prayers and a visit to the mosque.

· The Monetary Authority of Singapore has expressed an interest in promoting Islamic banking products as it expands as a financial centre.

· We turn diversity into an advantage for the nation eg we can do business with India, China, the Middle East.

… will we come to terms with diversity in our personal and professional lives? Will we begin to recognise the diverse forms that quality can take? If so, we will thus initiate the process of making quality limitless in its manifestations … (L36)

· Meritocracy ensures that all individuals regardless of race will achieve success.

· The Pledge that students take every morning at the flag raising ceremony reminds them of the upholding of equality.

· Singapore welcomes foreigners to live and work here which has made it a cosmopolitan city and hence even more diverse.

Ideas from Passage B

Suggested relevant information on Singapore

… one's race determines the content of one's mind…people have worthwhile views to express because of their ethnicity, and that diversity enables us to encounter "black ideas" … What could be more repulsively racist than that? (L15)

· There would be some bigots who believe in this but as a nation, we practise representation to ensure that a group reflects the concept of a multiracial society. There is nothing racist about it.

The essence of racism is the idea that the individual is meaningless and that membership in the collective — the race — is the source of his identity and value (L 20). To the racist, the individual's moral and intellectual character is the product, not of his own choices, but of the genes he shares with all others of his race (L22)

· Race and culture are inescapable elements of a person and our government has accepted that, especially in a young country where many still cling fiercely to their culture of origin, which is also attracting new immigrants. Schwartz is probably speaking from the perspective of an established American identity.

· In Singapore, the family and the ethnic community help shape a person's character and values. There is nothing racist about it as our ethnicity is one of our roots. It is in recognition of this bond that we have self-help groups that are ethnic-based such as SINDA, CDAC, MENDAKI; however people of all races are involved either as givers or receivers.

… racial division is growing at our colleges (L31).

· It is true that Singaporeans tend to prefer socialising with others of the same race. There is nothing wrong with this as there would be sufficient activities to encourage inter-racial cooperation eg Mercy Relief was set up by the Malay community but it has members from other races.

· Diversity is very much a theme of the National Day parade.

· As Singaporeans interact with other races in work and leisure, they will perceive themselves as 'one people' . In fact, the number of interracial marriages has been increasing. A few of our Ministers have spouses from another race

If racism is to be rejected, it is the premise of individualism … by disregarding color. A racially integrated group implies that skin color is irrelevant in judging human beings. It implies that those who chose the students or the workers based their evaluations only on that which reflects upon the individual: merit (L39).

· Meritocracy is an underlying principle of all policies in government and business. No one is denied opportunities as long as he meets the standards expected.

· Education enables all to acquire the means to excel and the options are expanding to include a diversity of talents — the arts, sport, invention, business acumen etc.

· Singapore believes that the community comes before self. Schwartz is speaking from the context of his own cultural ideology, which celebrates individualism.



Mark Range

Strand

Descriptor

8 - 10

A

Requirement

Systematic reference to the given requirements of the question with evidence of a balanced treatment

able to see similarity with both views despite the seemingly opposing views and give equal attention to both views

highlights the uniqueness of the Singapore model due to her history and effective, enlightened government -- the rojak instead of the melting pot analogy

use of very concrete examples of what Singapore has done

Explanation

Explanation shows a good or very good understanding of terms and issues, and includes elaboration and support through personal insight and apt illustration

displays a clear knowledge of Singapore's experience of addressing multiethnicity

includes elaboration and support through personal insight and apt illustrations

Evaluation

Makes a very convincing evaluation by making judgements and decisions, and by developing ideas to logical conclusions

perceives the strength and weaknesses of both arguments

demonstrates insightful analysis of cited information

shows that in Singapore, diversity and meritocracy are not at odds and both have their merits

discussion is mature and realistic

Coherence

Shows high degree of coherence and organization

(paragraphing, appropriate connectives, clarity of communication)

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B

Requirement

Covers given requirements of the question but not necessarily a balanced treatment given.

able to identify appropriate ideas from texts but limited in the citing of relevant information

not very successful in dealing with both - tends to focus on one view

Explanation

Explanation shows an adequate level of understanding of terms and issues (which may include minor misinterpretation) and is not as thorough in support and illustration

Inadequate treatment of issue and lacking in detailed explanation of information used

Evaluation

Evaluation is attempted but it is not convincing and tends to be superficial with limited development of ideas

Coherence

Coherence and organisation are not as sharp or systematic as the top band.

1 - 4

C

Requirement

Largely fails to address the given requirements of the question

Very little evidence to show candidate is discussing how Singapore deals with its multiethnicity in relation to the two writers' view

Information is not phrased as response to the question

Explanation

Explanation shows very limited levels of understanding and a higher incidence of misinterpretation with very thin support

makes statements without elaborating on their relevance

repeats ideas

Evaluation

Tends to be a mere summary or restatement of the text rather than an evaluation of it

Coherence

Inconsistency in the argument is evident. Coherence is in question.

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