This election has been one of the most divisive in history but it also generated a lot of interest. Both candidates are equally flawed and so my choice will not be based on their sordid past but on how they dealt with it. All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. We are all sinners in God’s redeeming. Hillary acknowledged her carelessness in handling her emails and vowed not to make the same mistake; Trump was reported to have abused several women and instead of being repentant,he seems to be proud of it and vows to take these women to court.
As a shrewd businessman Trump lacks compassion. Part of our baptismal vows in the Episcopal Church is to “respect the dignity of every human being.” Trump not only disrespects individuals but also slurs racial and cultural dignity. Building walls instead of bridges, bullying and demonizing even his fellow Republicans, generalizing Mexicans as “rapists and criminals” and Filipinos as “animals” (when he should have specified it was the Abu Sayyaf he was referring to) are not the behavior of a Christian.
Although he cozies up with the Evangelicals, you don’t really know what his faith is. When asked what was his favorite Scripture he said, “the one which says ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’,” an ancient penal code abrogated by Jesus. Mahatma Gandhi said if we live with that code, “we will leave the world toothless and blind.”
I travel all over the states for my job and I sense people’s anxieties. Though they used to be passive, there are now many Asian Americans who are actively participating, and they would not vote for Trump. There are however some Filipino Americans who will vote for him and their reason is the same as some white men who are worried about the undocumented people taking their jobs. This fear of the other has given birth to racism and bigotry. Are some Filipino Americans suffering from internalized oppression, vestiges of Euro-American imperialism?
Whenever we think of racism, it usually connotes black and white and Asians seem to glory in the designation that we are “the model minority.” They call us the model because we do not make waves and we often suffer in silence. The truth of the matter is that there are at least three glaring racist acts against Asians by the dominant culture.
In 1880’s when they had helped the mining industry and built the transcontinental railroads, the Chinese immigrants were becoming prosperous, so the dominant culture demonized them as “the yellow peril.” Then in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was promulgated. As the Europeans were being welcomed in Ellis Island in New York, Angel Island in San Francisco became the clearing house of mass deportation of Chinese immigrants.
The initial wave of Filipino immigration started in 1906-1930’s when we were colonized by America (it was in 1946 after WW II that we finally gained autonomy). There were two kinds of immigrants: students and farmers. The students (“pensionados” or fountain pen boys) were educated in America and sent back to Philippines to become colonial leaders of American style democracy. The farm workers in California were young Ilocano males. They were not allowed to bring their brides and prohibited from marrying by virtue of the “anti-miscegenation laws.” So a whole generation of Filipino Manongs lived and died as a “bachelor society,” not having the right and joy to have families of their own.
In 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the onset of the Pacific War, some 250,000 Japanese from the West Coast, many of them American citizens were placed in concentration camps in remote places “because they looked like the enemy.” They were told it was for their protection but why was it that the guns were pointed inside the camps?
Trump’s profiling of Mexicans, Muslims and refugees resemble exclusionary movements of the past.
When Obama became president, it shattered the myth that “only Euro-Americans can lead this country.” If Hillary gets elected, it will shatter another myth that “only men can lead this country.” What is great in this country is that we continue to move forward in inclusion, not exclusion. I wonder what Trump’s slogan “great again” means. A return to Jim Crow?:
I believe that whoever wins next week (Trump or Hillary), should address himself or herself to heal and reunite this greatly polarized country. And it requires listening, compassion and humility. Which of the two has the greater sensitivity to these values will be the lesser evil or the greater good and will have my vote.
May God indeed guide and bless America.