what lies beneath


THE VIDEO is grainy, the speech is garbled, and in their respective ways, the English of both speakers is heavily accented (Kiwi or New Zealander English on the one hand, and Pakistani English on the other).  But it might have been just as well, because if you pay full attention and fully comprehend what is happening exactly, it would have been painful to watch.

There is just so much racist abuse being hurled on the taxi driver in the four and a half minutes of the YouTube clip above that you would be forgiven for turning away and losing your appetite, if not your belief in the innate kindness of strangers.  If not for its shock value, there is no redeeming social value in disseminating such a clip.  I only share it because of a profound and abiding truth which I guess every migrant, not just Filipino, has learned in New Zealand.

Our temporary adopted country is probably one of the most (if not the most) politically correct and tolerant countries in the world.  Every effort is made on the institutional level to make us feel welcome here.  No effort is spared to make the most different looking and exotic sounding migrant assimilate to the values, customs and tradition here.  It’s true that New Zealand is primarily atheist and humanist (as opposed to religious) but it is tremendously altruistic and humanitarian in all its actions.

However, that racist rant and abuse you see above is what lurks beneath the surface of what many locals show their migrant neighbors and colleagues.  Yes, our hosts welcome our contribution and participation in their communities, they appreciate our enthusiastic efforts to help turn the wheels of economy, and they especially relish the fact that we replace the bedpans of their infirm and wash the bums of their elderly.

But there will always be a firewall we cannot breach, an inner circle we cannot break.  In areas like government and certain professions, we cannot expect to be welcome.

In the end, as it was in the beginning, we will to a certain extent always be outsiders.

In a way, it’s a good thing a racist episode like this came to light.  The speaker was drunk, he was incoherent (partially) and he wasn’t fully understood, but the filter through which he usually coursed his opinions was for that evening totally absent : he therefore spoke with complete candidness, spoke his mind, and said exactly what he thought was happening in his carefully structured world.

Listen carefully to what he says : he couldn’t conceive of what people like his driver for the night was doing in his country, in a country where he didn’t belong.  He called his driver a name reserved for the human male sexual organ, modified by an adjective describing his Muslim faith.   Lastly, he said (if I’m not mistaken) he would pay the seven-dollar fare if the driver would return to his own country.  Truly horrible.

Do you know what?  Even if he apologized less than 48 hours after, even if he was remorseful, and even if he accepted an invitation to visit the community Mosque to I assume explain himself, I am willing to bet my one week’s wages that he meant every word he said, despite his drunken state then.  And I don’t doubt for a moment that it is not an isolated situation.  True, what happened above is the exception and not the rule, but racism exists everywhere, even in politically correct and tolerant New Zealand.  That’s just the way it is.

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I wanted to tell you two other unrelated things that happened to me recently, but in a roundabout way they’re not that unrelated.

Bunso my son was recently pushed by a shopper he wanted to help while working his shift in a large supermarket chain.  Everyone was outraged by the situation, but when the matter reached management, the latter decided to sweep the matter under the rug.  Why?  the shopper had mental issues daw, and had been a loyal shopper for some time.    Regardless of the unbelievable excuses given, the one thing that stuck in Bunso’s craw was the fact that he was a very junior employee, and of course, that he wasn’t Kiwi.

I won’t even answer your question on what race the shopper belonged to.  By the way, Bunso by coincidence or otherwise is no longer working in the said supermarket.  He resigned as soon as he got accepted in Starbucks.  Congrats anak and woohoo!

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And lastly, if there was any doubt  the only nation that Japan hates more than North Korea (or for that matter, South Korea) is Big Brother China, it was dispelled on yesterday’s international news page yesterday.  Japan pledged to the Philippines 10, countem TEN coast guard boats to assist the latter in its maritime intramurals with China.

Japan and China have had a long, long history of bad blood, stretching all the way to the Sino-Japanese War, Japanese War of Aggression,  the Nanking Massacre to today’s Diaoyu Islands brouhaha.  There is no simple solution to the Sino-Japanese conflict, it goes very deeply into the national psyches of each country.  Sad to say, it is just as much a racial issue, with Chinese and Japanese (ironically close genetic cousins) deeply mistrusting each other with inexplicable loathing.

The Philippines is actually just a pawn in this regional MMA battle between states.  Japan just wants to stick another needle in China’s side by giving us sticks and stones to throw at the Chinese Giant.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we’re just being used by the Empire of the Sun in its mighty struggle against the Central Kingdom.

I just don’t know why I feel so good with those new Japanese boats on our side of the sea.

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One thought on “what lies beneath

  1. Pingback: hi-definition bonding with kids is even cooler when they’re your own | YLBnoel's Blog

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