HAWAII'S ONLY WEEKLY FILIPINO-AMERICAN NEWSPAPER
SERVING THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY SINCE 1993
JUNE 16, 2018
EDITORIALS
EDITORIALS

Racism Ultimately Is About Power and Scarcity

Racism in its many forms – individual, systemic, institutional, via groups large and small – is one of the most sensitive topics of discussion, almost on par with religion and politics. It has been a part of society perhaps as early as the time when men and women first began to live in small communities as hunters and gatherers, i.e., the strong discriminated who can be a part of the tribe. In strange irony, it also has been essential for the survival of some tribes over others. Today, expressions of racism have changed; but racism itself hasn’t changed much. Why? Because at the root of racism, is this idea that the “haves” are entitled to maintain the status quo over the “have-nots.” In other words, racism is a perverted form of rationale to justify societal inequalities. Someone or some group is too lazy, too dumb, too inferior, too uneducated, too this and that, to have what I have – the racist thinks to himself. And this is why I deserve so much more, people like me, who look and act like me – the racist rationalizes.

From a political perspective, the election of President Barack Obama, signaled a shift in power where minorities seemed to have flipped the table upside down. And what we’re seeing today is a backlash rooted in fear among some whites that minorities (especially undeserving illegal immigrants who do not even belong in this country) must return to the back of the bus and be reminded of who’s really in control.

Fear of a desperate people wanting to maintain their power in many ways led to Trump’s election. Someone who promised them to “make America great again” – is actually “code” to white racists, and means: “We must retake what is rightfully ours. What? America! Of course.”

Racism is Darwinian; and most pronounced when scarcity exists. It’s no surprise that the main perpetrators of today’s new version of racism happens to be poorer, uneducated whites. At least on the U.S. mainland. But remember, racism has most to do with the “haves” justifying their inequality over the “have-nots.” So, racism can exist also where more well-to-do minorities are racists against other minorities, and at times, has nothing to do with skin color. For example, this dynamic could explain why many non-whites in Hawaii are racists against the latest immigrant group, Micronesians. “They could be the same color as me, but now it becomes culture that separates us and a reason why I am more deserving than you,” – a racist rationalizes. “This is why you must assimilate to our way of life. So, really, I could keep all that I have and am.” So we see racism can at times not even be about color, but power.

Identity Politics

The justifiable reaction to surviving in a world where systemic racism exists has been the advent of identity politics, a tool that minorities have and continue to use to bring a fairer state of equality. It has been marginally successful and continues to be the best expression of working within our system of democracy without drastically overturning it. In fact, identity politics has become such an effective tool that there now exists an anti-identity politics campaign from the right-wing. Many of them saying and believing that identity politics is contributing to society’s racial disharmony. How convenient, for them. This campaign’s ultimate goal seeks to disarm the power of unity among minority groups, and smears the idea of minority empowerment, as being, somehow problematic. Minorities practicing identity politics is essential because it gives them hope for a better tomorrow. Without it, the ongoing economic experiment called capitalism (the main driver of inequality and racism) would be thrown out the window.

Discussions on racism and hate is usually superficial and “skin deep.” Perhaps, this is why as a society, we are still on base one along the process of achieving true racial harmony. We are no longer in the days of hunters and gatherers where selective grouping is a must to survive. Mankind has advanced technologically in every aspect to provide adequate resources for most humans in the world, fairly equitably. Therefore, racism should be profoundly less a feature today than it was 10-20-30-40 years ago, and so on. But it is not.

Racism at its root has more to do with perpetuating inequitable resources than about color, or culture. In an alternate universe where the dominant groups of power were reversed, and all else remained the same, racism probably would still exist, inversely. Until we grasp this understanding that links racism to power and scarcity, it will continue to resurface in cycles of fair to extreme. At this moment, it just so happen to be closer to extreme.

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Lie After Lie, Trump's Deceptions Are Hurting the Country

Besides his anti-immigration campaign, besides his out-of-control raising of the national debt, besides his immoral past, one of President Donald Trump’s most harmful aspects of his presidency is his constant spreading of lies that has lowered the standard of honesty in political discourse never seen in modern history.

Worse of all his lying is just half the problem; the other half is that he is allowed to get away with his disregard for facts by his supporters and a GOP that sits idly as the office of the presidency becomes muddier by the day.

The Washington Post reported Trump has made 3,251 false or misleading claims since taking office, according to the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement made by the president. That’s an average of more than 6.5 false claims a day.

The running list of his lies include: that he passed the biggest tax cut in U.S. history (truth: it is the eighth); that Obamacare was unconstitutional (truth: Supreme Court said it passed constitutional muster); that the immigration visa lottery ‘randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of American people (truth: they are vetted, meet education and work requirements); that his work on the opioid crisis has resulted in less deaths (truth: deaths are up); that there are substantial evidence of voter fraud (truth: no evidence); that he has signed more legislation than anybody, breaking the record of Harry Truman (truth: he ranks last).

He misrepresents facts on immigrants. He says illegal immigrants are voting illegally in this country. In the October 2017 New York City terror attack, he used that tragedy to politically target family-based reunification immigration because the gunman came into the country by this means. Never mind that most immigrants who come into the country via family-based reunification are law-abiding; and most crimes committed in this country are committed by non-immigrants. He constantly brings up MS-13 gang members when talking about illegal immigrants with deception to suggest that all illegal immigrants are categorically intent on entering the country to do crime.

To get the tax bill pass, he lied that we are the highest developed nation taxed in the world and that he personally would be paying more. Lie and Lie. To increase military spending by billions; he painted a picture of an antiquated U.S. military fallen to disrepair and weakness. Far from reality. He lied about Obamacare when he tried to get it repealed. He lies about a porous immigration at the borders to get funding for his “symbolic” southern wall; but facts show illegal immigration is way down. The examples of Trump untruths go on and on, in freefall, each day.

Besides using false numbers and false claims to steamroll suspect policies, what does all these lies do for our country?

It has undermined trust, undermined the relationship between government and the people (even among politicians themselves). It has undermined the office of the presidency. It erodes the social fabric and cohesion of citizens to a point where they simply do not know what to believe. This last point is the most destructive and dangerous of all.

Some might say that Trump hasn’t rewritten the rules here and that politicians have been caught lying frequently in the past. Then there is also a philosophical defense of what truth actually is and that it is in the eye of the beholder.

First, the excessive nature of Trump’s manipulation of facts and his attack on the media that challenges his facts – are unprecedented. The rate of his lying is staggering and shamelessly repeated as a form of brainwashing. Second, there are truths that are factually based. And to go against them is not a matter of breaching one’s “private” truths, they are simply lies.

Where do we go from here? What would be most damaging is that Americans accept the lies from our president as the new “normal.” Or that rising politicians emulate Trump’s loose handle of truth to deceive the people as this president is doing. Rather, what would be ideal is as the saying goes, lies eventually will catch up and there will be justice at the end of the day.

It may come in the way of his firing of FBI Director James B. Comey on May 9, 2017. It would be considered obstruction of justice if in fact his firing of Comey was motivated to end the Russia probe.

The president has repeatedly used his reason to fire Comey in the same sentence with the Russian controversy. “I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact when I decided to do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,” said Trump.

According to the New York Times, in a meeting with Russian officials the day after the firing, Trump said: “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” This quote appeared in the White House document summarizing the meeting.

His lie in this matter -- he did not fire Comey because of the Russia scandal. But his words indicate there was a link. The fact that he is not being pinned down on this potential obstruction of justice has more to do with Republicans unwilling to pursue it, not that a violation hasn’t occurred. But that could all change quickly should Democrats retake Congress after the midterm elections and this lie could be revisited and lead to Trump’s removal from office. And whether if collusion between his campaign and Russia exists, could be irrelevant to the fact that he obstructed justice in Comey’s firing. Obstruction of justice and lies were enough to oust President Richard Nixon. Trump’s lies eventually could result in the same fate.

 

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