The Terms Majority & Minority: A Traditional Symbol of Violence

Haris Fatwa Dinal MaulaOctober 2, 2022240

The Terms Majority & Minority: A Traditional Symbol of Violence

So far, the impact of violence as we know it is physical, visible, and concrete. In contrast to symbolic violence, where the effect is completely invisible, latent, and very subtle. Simply put, the victim will not feel that she is in a room of violence, the victim actually accepts and agrees to her position, even she feels that she is in a position that should and should be.

Borrowing one of the key concepts from Pierre Bourdieu, this symbolic principle is recognized and accepted by both parties; the dominant party that controls and the sub-dominant party that is controlled. This symbolic principle attacks and determines the way of thinking, mindset , and actions of one group over another. According to Bourdieu, symbolic violence arises from the class structure in society.

The existence of a class structure in society is a logical consequence of differences, separations, inequalities, inequalities or imbalances. Symbolic violence runs by means of discourse. Discourse becomes an effective foundation for the continuation of symbolic violence.

One of the symbolic violence rooted in the traditions of our society is the term majority-minority. Of course, the term is very closely related to our social conditions. Millions of discourses have been produced about the term. However, the whole discourse in the end only precipitates the same conclusion, namely that the dominant majority will always be the ruler of the dominated minority.

Take for example our Christian friends, for example, will agree if their people always experience subordination by the majority group. The issue in Cilegon regarding the prohibition of building churches will always be agreed upon by Christians as a form of power of the dominant group over sub-dominant groups like them.

The role of discourse is very important in the affirmation of symbolic principles, including the term majority-minority. One of its contributions is the cultivation and perpetuation of the values ​​attached to these two positions. It’s easy to put it this way, as just discussed, the discourse that continues to be produced when talking about the majority is about power, domination, control, superiority. Meanwhile, what is produced when talking about minorities is about victims, subordination, inferiority, discrimination, and marginalization. Discourse work effectively perpetuates these values ​​and further embeds them in each term.

In the end, the majority-minority dichotomy is no longer a question of quantity inequality, but of social inequality. When talking about the majority-minorities, the focus point is no longer who has more than whom, but who dominates whom, who is controlled by whom.

Unfortunately, as discussed at the beginning of the article, both parties affirmed their respective positions. Not only affirming, both parties seem to be permissive of their position. In other words, Christians in Cilegon, for example, will consider the discrimination they are facing as a normal situation. Also, with the Muslims there who think that their discriminatory behavior is normal. Both situations depart from one discourse, the minority character is submissive, while the majority habitus is control.

It is so difficult to identify because the violence is not realized, the victim will eventually be trapped in determining how to act, how to think, and how to see or look at things.

Once again, the majority-minority dichotomy in the end only gives birth to pseudo-moral legitimacy which plays a major role in perpetuating the discrimination and tyranny of the majority that often occurs in recent times . Even in terms of tolerance. Tolerance will always be a discourse belonging to the majority, only the majority has the privilege to tolerate. Including determining which ones deserve to be embraced, which ones don’t. There is no need to be confused by the case, just look at how Muslims react when asked to choose, befriend a Christian, or with the Ahmadiyya congregation.

Speaking of Ahmadiyah, last week I attended the opening and inauguration of the Yogyakarta City Ahmadiyah mosque, in Kotabaru to be exact. There was an interesting statement from the local village apparatus when making their remarks, namely that the Ahmadiyya congregation did not need to close themselves. The Ahmadiyya mosque should be used not only by the Ahmadiyya congregation, but also by the general public as part of the process of mingling with the surrounding community.

The discourse of the apparatus, who happens to be Muslim, implies something in my mind. Why is it that the Ahmadiyya are given “pr” to embrace other people. This seems to indicate that all forms of discrimination against Ahmadiyah are caused because they do not want to blend in with the community. Why did the apparatus not say that the community around the mosque would support all forms of activities that would be carried out in the mosque. This is what I mean by violence in silence. The majority is in a position of control, while the minority only listens.

This paper seems to question the dichotomy which is already well established and does not need to be tinkered with anymore. However, therein lies the problem. Many things are established that are not critical so that they become the upstream of all conflicts.

The problem of symbolic violence, although difficult to identify, does not mean that it cannot be minimized. Bourdieu once said that symbolic violence is violence that has been ingrained in habits and has been going on for a very long time so that it is not realized. Because it is not realized, this kind of violence is difficult and even as if it can never be eliminated. Therefore, the initial effort to minimize and open the veil of symbolic violence is awareness.

If each party has realized that his actions have harmed the other person, or that he is being harmed, then other concrete efforts can only be made. Awareness and acknowledgment of the existence of symbolic violence is the first step in breaking the chain of symbolic violence absolutely in order to create an equal, egalitarian, and prosperous society.

Haris Fatwa Dinal Maula

Haris Fatwa Dinal Maula

Activist of Religious Moderation at the Islamic Institute, CRCS UGM Student, Yogyakarta


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