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MGA KABABAYAN, many of you are Republicans, holding onto conservative principles, especially those anchored on our Christian faith which is very important to us. This is one of the reasons why many Filipinos support the Republican Party and Republican President Donald J. Trump.

But where and when do we draw the line between our support to the conservative principles we hold dear to the core of our soul, and to the rhetoric, action and values of the president when there are clear dissonance and incongruence between the two?

When will you call out racism and discrimination that this president has emboldened among Americans who still have deep-seated disdain, hatred and resentment against immigrants because of the color of our skin through his own examples in shameless violation of the very principles of “all men are created” equal” enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and protected by the U.S. Constitution in the 14th Amendment mandating equal protection of laws for ALL Americans — the very foundation of the Rule of Law that Republicans and Conservatives defend and protect?

George Conway, the Filipino American lawyer who is one of the leaders and defenders of conservatism in the Republican Party and also happens to be the husband of Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post on July 15, which profoundly intimated his childhood experience as a person of color.

Many kababayans and other immigrants can relate to his experience, especially during the Trump presidency. These are our brothers and sisters who have experienced the hatred, disrespect, discrimination, now being normalized by the president who just told four people of color in Congress, “Go back to your country.”

George Conway wrote:

“To this day, I can remember almost the precise spot where it happened: a supermarket parking lot in eastern Massachusetts. It was the mid-1970s; I was not yet a teenager, or barely one. I don’t remember exactly what precipitated the woman’s ire. But I will never forget what she said to my mother, who had come to this country from the Philippines decades before. In these words or something close, the woman said, ‘Go back to your country.’

“I remember the incident well, but it never bothered me all that much. Nor did racial slurs, which, thankfully, were rare. None of it was troublesome, to my mind, because most Americans weren’t like that. The woman in the parking lot was just a boor, an ignoramus, an aberration. America promised equality. Its constitution said so. My schoolbooks said so. The country wasn’t perfect, to be sure. But its ideals were. And every day brought us closer to those ideals.

“To a young boy, it seemed like long ago that a descendant of slaves had prophesied, five days before I was born, that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We would be there soon enough, if we weren’t there already. I couldn’t understand why colleges required applicants to check boxes for race or ethnicity. I’m also part Irish and Scottish. What box should I check? Should I check one at all? Will that help me or hurt me? Never mind, not to worry, those boxes would someday soon be gone.

“How naive a child could be. The woman in the parking lot — there were many more like her, it turned out. They never went away. Today they attend rallies, and they post ugliness on Facebook or Twitter. As for the victims of historic racial oppression, no matter how much affirmative action (or reverse discrimination, or whatever you want to call it) the nation offered, they, too, had resentments that never went away — in part because of people like the parking-lot woman. Those resentments often led to more, not fewer, charges of racism as the years passed — charges of institutional racism and ‘white privilege.’”

Trump’s fans argue that this president is not racist, but his bullying of the brave women of color who would not kiss his a$$ and instead called him out for his rhetoric and behavior that goes against the Constitution is not an isolated case. Trump’s long history even before he was catapulted to the presidency would prove this.

Let Conway’s piece refresh your memory:

“And how naive an adult could be. The birther imaginings about Barack Obama? Just a silly conspiracy theory, latched onto by an attention seeker who has a peculiar penchant for them. The ‘Mexican’ Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel incident? Asinine, inappropriate, a terrible attack on the judiciary by an egocentric man who imagined that the judge didn’t like him. The white supremacists’ march in Charlottesville? The president’s comments were absolutely idiotic, but he couldn’t possibly have been referring to those self-described Nazis as ‘good people’; in his sloppy, inarticulate way, he was referring to both sides of the debate over Civil War statues, and venting his anger about being criticized.

“No, I thought, President Trump was boorish, dim-witted, inarticulate, incoherent, narcissistic and insensitive. He’s a pathetic bully but an equal-opportunity bully — in his uniquely crass and crude manner, he’ll attack anyone he thinks is critical of him. No matter how much I found him ultimately unfit, I still gave him the benefit of the doubt about being a racist. No matter how much I came to dislike him, I didn’t want to think that the president of the United States is a racial bigot.

“But Sunday left no doubt. Naivete, resentment and outright racism, roiled in a toxic mix, have given us a racist president. Trump could have used vile slurs, including the vilest of them all, and the intent and effect would have been no less clear. Telling four non-white members of Congress — American citizens all, three natural-born — to “go back” to the “countries” they “originally came from”? That’s racist to the core. It doesn’t matter what these representatives are for or against — and there’s plenty to criticize them for — it’s beyond the bounds of human decency. For anyone, not least a president.

“What’s just as bad, though, is the virtual silence from Republican leaders and officeholders. They’re silent not because they agree with Trump. Surely they know better. They’re silent because, knowing that he’s incorrigible, they have inured themselves to his wild statements; because, knowing that he’s a fool, they don’t really take his words seriously and pretend that others shouldn’t, either; because, knowing how damaging Trump’s words are, the Republicans don’t want to give succor to their political enemies; because, knowing how vindictive, stubborn and obtusely self-destructive Trump is, they fear his wrath.

“But none of that is good enough. Trump is not some random, embittered person in a parking lot — he’s the president of the United States. By virtue of his office, he speaks for the country. What’s at stake now is more important than judges or tax cuts or regulations or any policy issue of the day. What’s at stake are the nation’s ideals, its very soul.”

* * *

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

Gel Santos Relos
Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

  1. It has been one the source of my own frustrations, how the normally smart, level headed Filipino Americans cannot see what this president truly is, “a pathetic bully and an equal opportunity bully”. I will venture to add a RACIST BULLY! Supporting his ANTI-IMMIGRANT policies is against their self interest.

  2. Gel… My parents were born and raised in the Philippines, immigrated to the states, had three kids, raised us with conservative values, put us through school and now we all have graduated, have great jobs, got married and have kids of our own. I was born in America and have never been to the Philippines. All I have are the stories my grandparents, and my parents shared with me. NEVER have I ever experienced an empty belly, or having to walk 10 miles each day to get to school. I have never experienced living in a home without clean running water, reliable flow of energy. I have never witnessed thousands of my friends and family marched and slaughtered, raped and murdered. I have never experienced poverty to a level where I had to steal to eat, wearing the same clothes for a month or having to rely on polluted streams to catch fish to eat.

    Your article proves to me that you have absolutely fallen for the propoganda. I understand, you work for this journal and you have to say things like this that go with the flow because it is easier. This is NOT real journalism. The views you have expressed here are completely misguided. The reason I had that long statement before I wrote this opinion is because someone like Illhan Omar, an immigrant, who has told many stories of her past and how she and her family struggled in Somalia. In fact, she and her family had to flee from Somalia because of how bad it was getting there.

    Now, as a sitting congress woman, she tells her constituents how bad it is to live in America. America… the same country she and her family seeking asylum. The same country that she was able to secure a great career and be able to express any opinion she wants. Hell, just the other day she said negative things about the Jewish people and her own party wouldn’t condemn her rhetoric. Suddenly our president says that if you talk bad about America and don’t like it here then you can leave.

    The democrats and the republicans have a wonderful chance to make big changes for the good of not just America but for the rest of the world. Who pays for all the research and development for medicines and medical treatments the rest of the world loves to take advantage of? America does. If North Korea invaded Canada, Australia, or the Philippines… who do you think will step in and defend them? Somalia? Mexico? Venezuela? Sweden? Africa?

    The democrats wants to waste our time over a tweet when they themselves speak about people who are white. Is that not a form of racism? How come the media does not condemn talking about white people?

    We as a society have to STOP focusing on skin color and how the color of our skin can make us into victims. How can America be racist when we have black doctors, brown lawyers, black teachers, brown nurses, black electricians, business owners.

    Part of the American dream is if you work hard and don’t quit anyone can become successful. My parents and grand parents had to fill out paperwork, have multiple interviews, pay fee after fee after fee, have their background checked, get shots in their arms, study and take a test and be sworn into just to become United States Citizens. Why should we give special treatment to people that do not follow the laws WE the people voted for?

    We have illegal immigrants pouring in through our border unchecked and unchallenged. Many are just trying to have a better life like my parents and grand parents. But none of the ones sneaking through non ports of entry care about our laws. Many don’t want to go through the same process many of the Filipino community have gone through.

    Not only that, while the vast majority of Filipinos never took on food stamps or receive any other government benefit, we decided to go to school, get good jobs and become contributing members of society while many illegal immigrants have jobs that pay under the table which means they pay very little in taxes except for things they purchase and yet they take from the social safety net our country has to offer.

    All we republican conservatives want is that if someone wants to immigrate to this country, then they have to do it the proper way. Some illegal immigrants sneaking through our border bring crime, drugs, human trafficking and murder. Why is it racist to ask for identification to anyone who wants to immigrate to America? When someone knocks on your door, do you not ask who it is? Do you not look through the peep hole before letting them into the safety of your home? Why shouldn’t our borders be treated the same?

  3. Well said Phillip. I’m a first generation Filipino-American here in the US. I came here legally and worked hard to be where I want to be. I don’t understand why some people can’t figure out the difference between LEGAL and ILLEGAL. I live in a state ruled by Democrats (for so long) and it hurts to see the city that I love slowly becoming into a shit hole – antifa becoming emboldened each day, homeless people all over the city and surrounding areas, car theft and crime on the rise, people out-of-state (mostly Californians) are moving in, jacking up real-estate prices. Now, our governor just signed a bill granting driver licenses for illegals. What’s next? Free health care? The privilege to vote? They could already get free food stamps and welfare. Free housing is already on the table and making it’s way up to the governor’s desk. Makes me think that rules are for suckers! You break the law and you get a free pass while the hardworking legals are paying for all that free stuff for illegals! It’s frustrating!

  4. Thank you for posing these important questions, Gel. And thank you for consistently living a life that integrates faith, politics, culture, and social justice. It’s a road (far) less traveled and it is replete with a multitude of detractors. I know. It is the same road I walk on. But be of good cheer. Christ has walked this way, too, and has invited us in this journey of sacrifice.

    In my view, it is important to know where our identity and citizenship are rooted. If we claim to be citizens of the kingdom of Christ, then I think Micah 6:8 (doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly) helps draw the lines clearly for us to uphold kingdom values: showing hospitality to the stranger, preferential option for the poor, and showing a capaciousness of soul.

    Jeff Christopherson wrote a wonderful piece in Christianity Today three days ago on “Partisan Evangelicals and the Burning of the Mission Field.” https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/july/partisan-evangelicals-and-burning-of-mission-field.html?fbclid=IwAR21UJwh7GV96CDr8jc6dg6ADPKegQPbb6vCcl-GUhc0-FVEjFALec3d2rA. I highly recommend it for all your readers who may be interested to know about the gaping pitfalls of conflating American exceptionalism with faith. In it, he quotes Caleb Cohen, a missionary with the International Mission Board (Southern Baptist) in South Asia: “It does not take an unpatriotic American to recognize that our society has long nursed a heresy of American exceptionalism, equating our national values and interests with those of Christianity itself.”

    I think it crucial for every Filipino-American of every political stripe to have a long and thoughtful re-examination of conscience to help us draw the lines more clearly. For too long, we have identified our Christian values with party or person. We have forgotten that our ultimate citizenship is in heaven. We have conflated our faith with party politics and served and followed a Pharaoh. We have forgotten what it means to follow the Servant-King, the Lamb-Shepherd who emptied himself so that those of us who were hungry, estranged, marginalized, and fleeing peril could find our redemption in Him. Yes, we have found the economic equivalent of the Pearl of Great Price (American freedom and opportunity), but we balk at sharing it with those who desperately need it. Our political discourse has gone to the point where civility, dignity, compassion, and respect are lost on even the highest office of the land. We have traded decency for a malignant expediency–the fulfillment of our personal agendas of personal wealth, influence, social mobility, and power. The silence of the larger Filipino-American community appears to be tacit approval of the social malaise around us. We can or will want to see only as far as our turf, hardly ever beyond. We have lost our sense of pakiki-isa, pakikipagkapwa, and pagmamalasakit, hallmarks of our beautiful, selfless, and noble heritage as a people who went through hundreds of years of Spanish colonization, American rule, Japanese occupation, and martial law. Has that compassionate and other-centered Filipino soul who came to the rescue of 70- to 90,000 Jewish refugees in the 1930s disappeared into the ether? How often we rationalize that conditions are entirely different now and, in doing so, fail to admit that our human agendas of self-preservation are essentially unevolved.

    As a people who are insufferably religious, we need to often remind ourselves where our ultimate allegiances lie. As citizens of a kingdom higher than any, we will be wise to view our American citizenship as a gift (and a responsibility) from the Almighty. Our meritocratic efforts are not always the reason why we have acquired citizenship. If it were so, even Mary and Joseph, refugees as they once were, would not be allowed here in America having no papers but only the word that they were fleeing persecution from Caesar who was out to kill newborn male infants. And what about the early pilgrims who came here to these shores with only thoughts of conquest and conversion?

    As an insignificant one among many highly-educated and immensely-gifted FIlipinos who went through the path of American citizenship as aliens of extraordinary ability, I rejoice that many others acquired citizenship by birth, amnesty, family petition, marriage, and though hard work and struggle. We celebrate all these and all citizenship pathways for those who seek a better life. American citizenship, at the heart of its lofty democratic ideals is, precisely and entirely, the antithesis to the caste system. Yet, current leadership make us believe it is so.

    The call of our times is graciousness of heart, generosity of spirit, and a goodly application of our character as a nation of immigrants, the ones who, wave after wave, are described in the last five lines of Emma Lazarus’ stirring sonnet in 1883:

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Graciousness, generosity, and goodness…all facets of that greatest of human qualities, love, against which there is no law in the universe that can stand against. Love is the one that draws the lines against fear, misogyny, hatred, and bigotry.

    Stay strong, persist, keep the faith, dear Gel. Hindi ka nag-iisa.

  5. Sorry, but do not pull out the racist card here. He is just a strict president who upholds the law. Do not blur the lines between illegal and legal immigrants. He is against illegal immigrants who break the laws and those wanting to cross our borders filing for asylum under false pretenses. I’m an American citizen and if I was to break the law, I sure as hell would be punished so likewise for these illegal immigrants. Why should they have special treatment over us Americans? They are already given the privilege to drive in some states and a lot of them abuse the healthcare system, since their income is under the table, they just claim that they make less so they qualify for Medicaid. There’s also an influx of pregnant women who come here, give birth for free and their baby gains citizenship. So lady, WAKE UP! Stop being naive and feeling sorry for illegal immigrants. They are here like everybody else who wants a piece of the American dream, but do not know how to wait in line. They are not the victims here, they are opportunist. Don’t try to sway people to your way of thinking. Don’t try to get people’s empathy because you are worse than them, spreading lies. Facts are when illegal immigrants file for asylum, they never show up to their court hearing and disappear with the masses. Facts are these migrant caravans have passed by safe countries yet they turned down asylum offers from these countries. WAKE UP you naive woman!

  6. Dear Gel, it’s funny how you see racism on Trump but your bias reporting is not. Are you still a journalist? What is journalism mean to you? President Duterte has been sending Chinese illegals back to china, is he a racist? He just ordered the cleaning up of street vendors around metro Manila, is he a racist against poor people? You have been working as a “journalist” for the longest time and you know that corruption is not only in politics but in the media too, correct? My point is, I see 2 reasons why you are saying these against Trump. Either you don’t understand what journalism is all about or you are a corrupt one.

  7. Why do liberals and “dilawans” stick their noses in other people’s business? They try to sway others to accept them and their ideas. We respect your your lifestyle and the way you think, but please stay in your lane. Maybe, just maybe we can all coexist! Enough already!

  8. Please do not confuse racism with Nationalism which is so strong as well in the Filipino community. So are the Filipinos in the Philippines racist if they are nationalistic? There is a difference with the Love of country and being bigoted. If you love your country you should follow its laws. That is not being racist. You need to also follow the county’s law if you are in it. So you think the Filipino’s that are working in Saudi say things like what you are saying? Why do Filipino’s there have a different pay grade than that of Australians, British, Americans, and Europeans?

  9. @Phillip
    Well said! I was about to respond to Gel, but you stated it eloquently. I was born in the Philippines and raised in America. My parents are both Filipino. My dad joined the US Navy and brought my mom and me to America. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the value of being an American citizen. But I also learned the cost that my dad paid so we could become citizens…24 years of military service and months away from his family. He also is a retired SD County Deputy Sheriff.

    Whenever I hear about open borders and giving away American citizenship to illegals who cut in line, I just get infuriated. Where is the compassion for those who are waiting in line to get visas…people who filled out papers and paid fees to get their chance to come here? I can tell you all my relatives came here LEGALLY! As Filipinos, we understand why rule of law matters. Our Homeland is filled with corruption. We came here for a better life. Hard work, education, religion, and family are Filipino values that have made us successful in America and that is why we are part of the “model minority.” I’m baffled by Filipinos who support leftists who regularly pull the race card.

    Hopefully Gel will step out of the leftist echo-chamber and realize our President is not racist. He was calling out the Squad for their anti-American views. If America is so awful, I say to them GTFO! That isn’t racist.

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