If Filipinos in the Philippines were voting in the American presidential election, they would give George W. Bush a landslide win over his rival, John Kerry.
Bush is our kind of leader. Like him, we see the world as either black or white. The moral lenses we use divide nations into good or evil, friends or enemies. We do not argue with our enemies, we speak force to them. We prefer bluntness over nuance, decisiveness over deliberation, toughness over intelligence.
Kerry is too soft for us. Too educated and too refined, he is too weak to lead a world whose survival demands the crudeness of a streetfighter rather than the sensitivity of a morally burdened intellectual. The world needs a strong America, and America needs a warrior not a thinker.
This is the mentality of all colonial dependents, people who despise their own weakness and find easy security in the shadow of bullies. Having turned their back on a legacy of struggle and freedom, they cannot suffer those who continue to oppose domination. The latter’s resistance, blind as it may be, assails their own acquiescence.
This mind-set is reinforced when they go abroad. They cannot stand living beside other subordinate immigrants. They assume the bigotry of new converts, and they detest being treated like all the others. The voice of these “New Americans” is exemplified by Michelle Malkin, a journalist of Filipino ancestry, who authored a book titled Invasion (Regnery Publishing, 2002). This is her perspective:
“As a first-generation American, I am the new face of the immigration debate. I am sick and tired of watching our government allow illegal line-jumpers, killers, and America-haters to flood our gates and threaten our safety. I am sick and tired of watching ethnic minority leaders cry ‘racism’ whenever Congress attempts to shore up our borders. And I am especially sick and tired of business leaders, lobbyists, and lawmakers from both major parties caving in and selling out our national security. I believe in immigrant profiling. I believe we should discriminate in favor of foreigners yearning to live the American Dream – and against foreigners yearning to destroy it.”
“Profiling” simply means constructing the image of a person on the basis of certain characteristics associated with the group to which he or she belongs. This is what is done in “offender-profiling.” A beard or goatee, an Islamic-sounding name, one’s country of origin, professional background, race or religion, etc. could, with profiling, trigger a whole course of focused scrutiny or outright detention. Whether acknowledged or not, visa screening rests almost entirely on profiling procedures. What is even more dangerous is that the new post-9/11 legislation in the US today combines extensive use of profiling with the absolute power to detain all suspicious persons without explanation.
Just because our government is friendly to the US and supported its war in Iraq does not mean Filipinos will be treated any better at the American Embassy or at US ports of entry. One wonders what good can come out of George W. Bush’s habit of lumping the Philippines with Iraq and Afghanistan when he refers to the global war on terror. In the first presidential debate in Miami this week, he again made terrorism wear a Filipino face: “But the front on this war is more than just one place. The Philippines… we’ve got help… we’re helping them there to bring al-Qaeda affiliates to justice there.” Manila is certainly not Baghdad or Kabul, and Mindanao is not Fallujah. Why do we rejoice when the US President refers to our country in this light?
In May this year, a Filipino professor, Abhoud Syed Lingga, was stopped at the Los Angeles airport after disembarking from the plane. He was on his way to participate in a series of meetings and forums on Mindanao organized by the United Nations and the US Institute of
Peace. He had all the official letters of invitation and a visa from the US Embassy in Manila. But he was from Mindanao and the authorities did not like the sound of his name. His sponsors could not help him; he was sent back on the same plane to Manila.
Yet everyday, thousands of Filipinos are undeterred as they line up at the US embassy and psychologically prepare themselves for questions that routinely challenge their self-respect. Most of them are wasting their time and money. Every Filipino visa applicant is regarded as a potential illegal migrant or worse, a terrorist. Michelle Malkin wants decent Filipino travelers and immigrants to be spared this kind of treatment. But that will not happen as long as the US President considers the Philippines a home of al-Qaida affiliates and a major front in the war against global terror.
The whole world has become a more dangerous place because of Bush. America has earned more enemies because of its decision to invade Iraq without the authority of the United Nations. Americans feel more insecure because of this. And yet ironically, it is this very insecurity that is creating a false need for somebody like Bush. John Kerry is wrong to allow Bush to define terrorism as the key issue in this election. He sounds pathetic when he says, “I believe in being strong and resolved and determined. And I will hunt down and kill terrorists wherever they are.” For all his simple-mindedness, no one can speak that line better than Bush.
No, the issue is not global terrorism, but America’s behavior in the world.
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