Monthly Archives: November 2015

White, Male Christian? Probably not a Terrorist.

It’s impossible. Caucasian, male Christians cannot be terrorists. The media has now effectively made the word “terrorist” apply only to majority brown/black people and Muslims.

The last person I could recall who was Caucasian and was labelled a terrorist by the media after committing a heinous attack was Anders Behring Breivik. He killed 69 people, mostly children, on 2011 to save them from the invasion of Islam.  He never claimed to be Christian, but his sentiments against Muslims and immigrants ring far too familiar with what’s been happening in the US and in Europe at the moment. And yet, when it comes to talks of terrorism, the focus is mostly on immigrants and Muslim men. No one ever recalls someone like Breivik and suggests more surveillance on Caucasian extremists and hate groups. Everyone just focuses on minority populations… you know, the ones that already have enough grief in their lives.

Over the weekend, Planned Parenthood was attacked by an armed gunman. He barricaded the facility and ended up killing three people. He was Caucasian, Christian, and was motivated by the recent fake videos released by anti-abortionist groups depicting fetuses being harvested for “baby parts.” He was even quoted saying “no more baby parts” after the arrest.

After the Paris attacks, calls for more surveillance on Muslim populations have been rampant. More security at the border, do not take in any Syrian refugees (you know, the ones fleeing from terrorism), allow only Christians in the country. Politicians rode the wave of anti-minority sentiment which was fueled by the media, from “neutral” media like CNN to outright fascist outlets like Fox News. And yet, after the attack over the weekend, crickets. Not a peep from any major right wing political candidates regarding the attacks. Nothing from the same characters who were quick to vilify Muslims and immigrants after the Paris attacks. The only Republican to comment on it recently was failed CEO Carly Fiorina who still doesn’t call the gunman a terrorist and even reinforces his motivations for his actions. “The vast majority of Americans agree what Planned Parenthood is doing is wrong.” So what do we do, Carly? Shoot it up?

Let’s compare two groups, shall we? The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters and the anti-abortionists. The right wing media has been vilifying BLM as a hate group, that they are violent and have been responsible for the hate against police officers, neglecting the fact that the very reason BLM exists is that police officers have been targeting minority populations disproportionately more than other populations, with some encounters leading to death. Now, when BLM protesters unwisely got caught chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon” during a friendly back and forth with police officers, the media and politicians were quick to spin it as a call for violence. And when a police officer was found dead a few days later, they were quick to blame the movement for the violence. Unfortunately for the right wing narrative, the police officer was later found to have committed suicide. In any case, the damage has already been done. BLM is now a hate group according to some politicians.

But when people put out anti-abortionist material that call for violence, no one in mainstream media really calls it for what it is. A highly-edited hoax video showing baby fetuses being harvested was treated as if it was actual fact. Even members of the US Congress referenced it during a hearing against Planned Parenthood. No one thinks that in a country that is rife with guns that Christian zealots would see that video and react violently. And when a shooter goes to Planned Parenthood killing three people, effectively terrorizing women to go to such centers and preventing doctors from helping women, no one calls the shooter a terrorist. No one connects the shooter with fundamentalist Christian values. No one asks Christian communities to apologize for the action of the shooter.

And when Caucasian shooters terrorize people, instead of blaming it on whatever motivates them, be it fundamentality religion or some twisted logic, their actions are often blamed on mental issues. “He was suffering from schizophrenia.” It was never the people he listened to or the book he read.

The Army of God, Aryan Nations the Ku Klux Klan… these are just some Caucasian groups that cling to the bible and fundamentalist and nativist values.  Dylan Storm Roof, a male Caucasian, killed a group of black church goers. Is he labelled a terrorist? Not really. There’s a mass shooting in the US almost every week. Are they classified as terrorist attacks, even by a small percentage? Not if the shooter was Caucasian.

Caucasians just don’t fit the traditional terrorist narrative.

I guess one factor that affects the narrative is the victims of such attacks as well. In order to be labeled a “terrorist,” not only does it help if the perpetrator was a minority, it also helps if the victims are Christians or Caucasians. If the victims are members of a minority or people that are deemed to be deserving of such violence, like people who “want” to abort their babies, then the perpetrator won’t be labelled a terrorist.

Dr. George Tiller was murdered by Scott Philip Roeder. Dr. Tiller was providing late-term abortions. He was murdered after being called “Tiller the Baby Killer” by prominent right wing media personality Bill O’Reilly. Dr. Tiller had been a victim of anti-abortion violence several times before. His clinic had been firebombed and there had been another attempt at his life. And because the killer was Caucasian, and despite the fact that him and his group effectively terrorized people, he was not labelled as a terrorist. O’Reilly after the murder never suffered a backlash for his comments. Certainly not the same backlash BLM continues to suffer after their “pigs in a blanket” chant.  And the women who are now afraid to seek help… they’re just the same as other minority populations, just as disposable. Violence against them doesn’t get as much media play.

Compare the victims of recent attacks in Paris versus the recent attacks by Boko Haram. No one pays much attention to Boko Haram despite trending a year ago and causing just as much violence as ISIS (albeit towards black, Muslim populations). And yet with Paris, everyone changes their Facebook photos to the French national colors. Boko Haram is a terrorist organization, but their actions against black populations are as mundane as the seasons. ISIS and their actions against the French, it’s headline news.

So there you have it. Caucasian, male and Christian? You’re good to go. You’re bound to be diagnosed with schizophrenia when you shoot a number of people, but you won’t be labelled a terrorist. Call it a holy war, just make sure you’re holding the right book.

Heck, when George Bush called for a jihad in Iraq, no one called him a terrorist. And yes, it was a jihad. God told him to “end tyranny in Iraq.” Now, how often do you hear those brown, Muslim ISIS fighters talking about wanting to “end tyranny” in the west?

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I just noticed the anti-menstruation leader who the #HappyToBleed campaign is fighting against is a member of Cobra.

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Love and Marriage and TV

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Sometimes my weekends are too long. My wife gets on my nerves or I get on hers. I’m afraid my job, which often finds me not talking to another soul for eight hours, has turned me into a bit of a lonely curmudgeon. And I’m starting to get used to it. I get uncomfortable around people, and I start avoiding social settings or just give off an unfriendly vibe. And unfortunately, this preference for seclusion includes my wife after a while.

Or maybe the media and roughly fifty percent of all married couple are right. We’re not built to be with another person co close for so long… that we all end up living like roommates or worse.

Louie has a failed marriage. I just started watching “Master of None” and the first episode is about the plight of being married and having a kid. I remember back in the 90s watching a show built on the worship of one’s spouse, “Mad About You.” I had a crush on Helen Hunt at the time. And (SPOILER) the couple eventually ends up divorcing on the last season.  They stuck together for six seasons; they were “Mad” about each other, only to end up as another failed marriage statistic. One of my favorite TV characters, Frasier, divorced his wife, Lilith. I enjoyed “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and come season six, same thing, Larry David ends up getting a divorce (again SPOILER). George Costanza was in an unhappy relationship until his fiancée died in an unfortunate envelope-licking tragedy (SPOILER!!!).

And it’s not just comedy. Don Draper had a couple of divorces. Walter White was trying to put a façade of a nice family life underneath a crumbling marriage. No one gets married for love on the “Game of Thrones.”

These are just a few shows off the top of my head that I happen to enjoy.

I think if you’re a TV couple and you’re not animated, you have a great chance of ending up divorced.

I don’t know if a study has been done on the subject before. I’m sure there are more shows with divorced or couples with troubled marriages now, but I would like to see how prevalent they are compared to married couples (who continue to be married). I would even count Al Bundy’s unhappy relationship with his family as somewhat “successful” compared to other relationships on television. Granted, Al’s life appears to be a bit of a nightmare, but I believe the lesson is that he sticks with it regardless of his marriage’s many dysfunctions. I wonder because I start thinking “are there more unhappy couples on TV, or are am I somehow more inclined to watch shows with unhappy couples?”

Now, I’m not saying my relationship is on a downward spiral. It’s settled to what I assume is the average experience cohabitating with another person.  I don’t think my relationship is any better than most married couples, nor is it any worse. I guess I’m modest like that. There’s just a bit of mixed emotions whenever I turn on the television sometimes.

“These people know exactly how I feel!”

“Oh shit! I’m gonna end up just like Louie!”

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A Few Thoughts Regarding Paris

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So another horrible tragedy happened in Paris over the weekend. I’m sure most of the people on the Internet are already aware of it, so I’m not gonna explain what happened. I was going to write about something else entirely, but let me react to a few things regarding the recent tragic event.

Unfortunately, I think the world is playing exactly to ISIS’ plans. Politicians are now committing to close borders to Syrian refugees, increase surveillance of Muslim communities, and send more forces to the Middle East. What exactly does ISIS want? They can be quite vague with their calls for the downfall of the west, but like all terrorism in the Middle East, I believe all of their actions are fueled by their need for self-preservation, they need to justify their existence. They kill civilians, parts of the Middle East are bombed in retaliation, Muslims in the west are marginalized even further, resentment against western government increases, and ultimately more people join ISIS. The military might of western nations just plays into the victim mentality of the “oppressed” Muslim who finds himself/herself joining groups like ISIS.  These terrorist groups market themselves as revolutionary forces fighting against oppressive regimes, and for the past few years the United States and its allies have acted the part to fit the terrorist narrative.

Already, I believe the reaction to the attacks will fuel more violence. A Syrian passport was found among the carnage and people have used it to claim that the terrorists were gaining entry to the west as refugees. (As of this moment, some news sources believe the passport belongs to one of the victims) Because of this, several countries are rethinking helping refugees. People forget that these refugees are running away from ISIS. Not all of them are terrorists. Not all of them hate the west. Should Canada shut down its borders if one or two immigrants commit crimes in the country? A man was beheaded by a Chinese immigrant in Winnipeg a couple of years ago. The attacker was found to be mentally unstable. But there were no talks regarding mental screening for immigrants or an examination of the Chinese population after the attack. The Chinese community was not indicted for the crime. And yet for the Paris attack and the like, it is par for the course to indict the whole Muslim community. Inflammatory rhetoric does nothing but justify more hatred towards the west and divide people. Right now, the French Interior Minister is already calling for the “dissolution” of some mosques. Now, how is that gonna play in the minds of some Muslims?

Regarding immigration, ISIS doesn’t need to slip in operatives to countries. Even if they do, history shows we’re often looking at the wrong direction anyway. The 9/11 hijackers were mostly from Saudi Arabia. They were not from Iraq or Afghanistan. ISIS does a lot of recruiting online. They are converting people with their “oppressed by western powers” message. If there was to be another attack, it’ll probably be done by people who are already savvy enough to know the ins and outs of a particular country and community. It won’t be a fresh of the boat immigrant who barely knows the language, especially with the amount of focus the Syrian refugees are currently receiving from the press.  ISIS doesn’t want these people leaving Syria. They want them to remain in the country to be under their control. Them leaving and living decent lives in other countries goes against the narrative that ISIS is running a competent government.

Napoleon

A Youtube user, Thunderf00t, mentioned that the recent attack shows the effectiveness of using guns for terrorist attacks versus bombs. It is true, gun massacres tend to produce more casualties than bomb attacks. Guns are relatively easier to acquire and control; and the results are more predictable. Bombs on the other hand are much more complicated, and suicide bombers never get to gauge the amount of damage they cause. It is thus very disheartening that over the weekend, several gun rights proponents are saying that the massacre would’ve been less deadly if there were more people in the vicinity with guns. These people forget that while France doesn’t have as much guns as the United States, it also doesn’t have as much mass shootings. Gun control is actually something that can be done to fight terrorism. Controlling the runaway arms and defense industries is something that could be done to reduce violence. But as far as reactions to terrorism are concerned, this isn’t even in the picture. Guns will continue to be sold and find their way to terrorist hands, be it through sale within western countries or through “aid” the US gives out like free candy.

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This brings me now to a couple of things that bother me to a lesser extent. First is hashtag activism. Now, I think it’s fine to show support to the victims by changing one’s Facebook profile pic to the color of France’s flag, but it doesn’t really put too much skin in the game. It’s very low cost and doesn’t really do much to affect change. Looking at the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, it didn’t really put an end to the atrocities in Nigeria. Boko Haram still exists, abducting and trading young girls. Now, I’m not saying that one should not support France by doing something as low cost as changing one’s Facebook profile pic, but I suspect it is often more about following trends and thus more about the person than it is about the cause.

And speaking of making it about themselves, Bono is a well-meaning idiot. He calls the attack the first direct hit on music. Now, I know what he’s saying. The attack affected freedom and a way of life that celebrates music. But the way he says it makes it seem like the attack was more against him and the music industry (Boohoo, a U2 concert got cancelled!) and less against France and the west in general. He means well, but he’s not doing himself any favor. He still sounds like a narcissist.

I could go on and on about the attacks, but I’m probably not the only person pretending to be an expert in Muslims and geopolitics. I imagine social media is filled with people like me, talking as if they know what’s really going on.  I’m writing my thoughts as an unknown person with very little influence. Unfortunately, there are people out there with far more influence but with incredibly more extreme (and violent) solutions to this growing problem.

I say be kind to your neighbors regardless who they are, and hug your loved ones. Right now, bombs are falling, guns are being readied, and more violence will probably be in the news in the future.

*Unfortunately, most of my work related to France have a militaristic theme.

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Fruit for a Change

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I started drawing an apple, but I got carried away.

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The Curious Case of Reluctant Canadians

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Becoming a Canadian citizen can be perceived differently depending on the observer. To some, it is the reward for years in the naturalization process. However, despite the innocuous and rather malleable nature of being Canadian, others see it as a betrayal to one’s identity and culture.

I’m an immigrant. My family moved to Canada from the Philippines when I was a young boy. I became a Canadian citizen and I grew up thinking I would live my whole life in Canada. After all, my parents worked hard to bring us there. We worked hard at becoming citizens. It’s only natural that you enjoy what you have worked hard at becoming, Canadians. Now I’m in South Korea. I’ve been here for a long while now, but I never really thought about becoming Korean. There’s more to explore there and I will come back to it, but let’s start first with the whole “becoming Canadian” experience.

There’s a good argument that an immigrant to a country is more of a citizen than the one who was naturally born there. The natural-born citizen did not make a willful choice to be where he/she is. It is mere luck of the draw. An immigrant however chooses to be in that country, and in the process of becoming a citizen, they have to pass tests and work to become a contributing part of the community. In many instances, they would end up knowing more about the country’s history than the average natural-born citizen. In return, Canada gives immigrants full benefits of being a part of Canadian society. In fact, being in Winnipeg, I got to enjoy rights and privileges that even some Native people do not (There are books that could be written about this topic). This is the extent of Canada’s generous embrace to immigrants in exchange for becoming a part of the country.

The driving force to our move to Canada was my late mother. I don’t know how enthused my father was at moving to Canada, but my mother immersed herself more with the Canadian experience than my father did. In any case, the move was probably the best for the family. We had a better future moving to a more prosperous country.

Now, the pride of being a Canadian doesn’t stem from the shame of one’s heritage. But in many cases, it is seen as being so. “So you think you’re a Canadian now. You’re no longer a Filipino. Don’t forget, you’re still a Filipino.” etc. It almost seems like resentment from the people who are “left behind.” “Don’t think you are too good. You are still one of us.” It’s like an odd amalgamation of crab mentality and jingoism.

This isn’t unique to Filipino-Canadians, of course. Eddy Harris, on his book Native Stranger recounts how going back to Africa, “Motherland,” he encounters an almost resentful attitude from the Africans he has “left behind” long after his ancestors were taken as slaves to North America. Hearing “welcome home” can be very heartwarming at the beginning of his trip, but after a while, hearing “how come you haven’t helped us?” several times, rings of a sense of entitlement and resentment from people he has nothing in common with except for their race. In the end, he comes out of the trip not being grateful for slavery and for bringing his ancestors to America, but being grateful for being alive as an African-American person. America has provided for him a great life, but to some Africans, there’s a debt owed, there’s a responsibility to give back to the “Motherland.” But in reality, what has brought him to his current position is not so much Zaire and his ethnic heritage, but the virtue of being an American.

The United States and Canada being multi-cultural societies, people try to adopt an attitude of recognizing all citizens as part of the country regardless of their ethnicities. The keyword is “try.” Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II because they were suspected of not being truly American despite many of them being born in the country. Given the choice prior to being sent to internment camps, I suspect they would have fought for the country that has adopted them as oppose to fighting for the country they have long since left. This is a rather extreme case, but I believe once a person has been naturalized, they have already taken sides. It does not mean forgetting one’s ethnicity and culture, but it means belonging to the country and becoming a true citizen. It’s participating in the great Canadian experience. It’s like converting from Judaism to Christianity. You’re still the same color and your past hasn’t changed, but you now celebrate Christmas.

My father in many cases, instead of taking pride in becoming a Canadian citizen, still insists on being a Filipino, or at the very least, calling himself that. I’ve met some Canadians with the same attitude as him too. It’s almost as if they resist the good that the country tries to give them. These days, my father spends a lot of his time in the Philippines. One could assume he’s trying to reverse all of the Canadian-ness he has tried to resist through all of those years. When we were growing up, he tended to nag us whenever we become “too Canadian” in his eyes, whatever that means. I remember him chiding me one time as a teenager for having a “white girlfriend.”

Now I understand that there is value in one’s cultural heritage, and we shouldn’t shed it the way we do outdated clothes, but a new country is not a uniform either. It is not something one should resist, especially if it’s something as welcoming a society as Canada. To become a Canadian, to say that you are a Canadian as opposed to any other nationality, is an exchange for all the good that becoming a Canadian gives a person. It is the least a Canadian citizen can do. I feel that in the long run, my father is making a mistake. The Philippines is a good country, but it is the country of his childhood, of his past. It is the country that he has left behind. To insist on being a Filipino almost feels like a betrayal to the country that has been so good to him all of these years.

Being in South Korea, I realize the extent of Canada’s generosity to its citizens. Becoming naturalized as a South Korean citizen is much the same as being a Canadian. A person must speak the language, be of good conduct, and have the ability to maintain a living. Of course, Canada’s healthcare system keeps a lot of people from revoking their citizenship, but the one thing that I believe keeps expats from becoming South Koreans is the people’s treatment of foreigners. Though being a South Korean citizen does not require Korean heritage, it is plain fact that foreigners in the country get treated as foreigners regardless of citizenship. It doesn’t matter how long one lived in the country or how well they speak the language. If you look foreign, you will often be treated as a foreigner. This is what makes Canada and countries like it quite special. People, regardless of ethnicities, are welcome to call themselves Canadian.

This is why I don’t understand my father’s attitude. Perhaps it is shortsightedness or xenophobia on his part, or perhaps it’s my ignorance or naivety. But I believe the country has been more than generous to him and provided him with great opportunities he may not have had should he have stayed in the Philippines. All of his children have great lives thanks to be being in Canada. He need not adopt the attitude of those who are “left behind.” He is not Eddy Harris’ African people in the “Motherland.” He wasn’t left behind. He became a Canadian.

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