Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Race Card

Well, a certain PhD in Manila suggests I am a peculiar kind of American, evidently not appreciating my take on race and countries that seek some kind of nationalistic purity. So I’ll elaborate.
It seems to me nationalism is important to: (1) live harmoniously according to commonly accepted rules, (2) gather enough resources to better oppose aggressor states, (3) huddle together for warmth and comfort, or (4) organize an economy that can compete fairly for prosperity. These are moral, military, security and economic needs and have nothing to do with the color of one’s skin or where one was born.
I’m not really sure why so many Filipinos believe it is somehow important to stay fundamentally Filipino. The morality is screwed up by widespread law-bending and corruption, the country can barely feed the ever-birthing hordes, the place is pretty warm already, and the economy can’t spit into the wind for distance. What are they trying to preserve? The hills have been cleared and are washing into the seas, the reefs have been dynamited to gravel, and the fish have been stripped so all that is left are those spiked little creatures that you should avoid stepping on lest you have to hop quickly to get a friend to pee on your foot.
Now, on the other side of the big pond, the US, after its internally hard fought epiphany of the 1960’s, leads the world in setting race aside in favor of competency. The smarter you prove to be in an applied way, where smarts has value to the government or businesses, no matter where you are from or what you look like, or even how many legs you have, you have a shot at becoming a citizen. The best of the best rack up the Nobel and other prizes like so many elk heads on the rustic cabin wall.
It seems to me that countries that consign themselves to a closet of culturally closed nationalistic prerogatives relegate themselves to: (1) energy wasted defending against imagined foreign ghosts, rather like Chicken Little’s friends running about shouting “the sky is falling”, and (2) non-competitive economic development, as high-skill competition requires getting the best available brains, wealth, technology and productive moxie, no matter where they are from. Not to mention, (3) culturally closed societies risk being really boring, and (4) stand as remnants of outdated thinking of man as a small animal.
Racial stereotypes are born of fear and misunderstanding and invariably lead to unfairness and punitive behavior. The sooner the whole world cross-breeds itself into a fine yellowish brown tone, the better off we will be. Likewise, the sooner Filipinas toss their whitening creams into the garbage and take pride in the way they look, brown and beautiful, the sooner they can stop dealing with one another on some kind of starstruck superficial level and get to relating about things that matter.
The sooner the country is thrown open to people who know how to compete fairly, serve well, invest smart, and manage with an eye to the future, the sooner the country will stop being led by a bunch of outdated fogies (trapos I believe they are called) with pesos for brains and illogic for a vision statement. Who gives a rat's patootie what y’all look like or what history you trudged through to get here? It is more important to get some food on peoples’ tables and get all those rickety homes off the muddy river banks.
Sorry. Just the way my brain circles on this matter. I’m confident most of you can deal with it. Or tell me how my thinking is wrong, even better . . .