Dean Bocobo’s is a valuable voice in the public square. I listen to him all the time. Just the other week, for instance, Philippine Commentary ran an extremely useful deconstruction of the four Palace-sponsored questions raised during the last Social Weather Stations survey.
Like all of us milling about or loitering in the town plaza, however, Dean also has blind spots. I would count his opinion on the role of the Supreme Court in recent history as one such. (I have no links, but I think Dean would agree with me that the following summary of his position is fair and fairly accurate: He thinks Hilario Davide committed a tragic mistake, and Allan Paguia is a tragic hero.) His position on the Iraq war and the acts of a certain bible-cutting cowboy in the White House is another such blind spot.
To these two, I would add a third: a contrarian view of the Inquirer, the newspaper for which he used to write weekly commentaries. His criticism of a recent Inquirer editorial struck me (to be sure, I have my own blind spots) as confirmation.
He writes (here, but please scroll down):
LOG IN OUR EYE: How dare those nasty Canadians renege on "multicultural diversity", PDI and the nationalist lynch mobs cry. I wonder how much of such a wondrous virtue can be said to exist in the Philippines. How much tolerance is there in Manila compared to Montreal, Basilan or Payatas compared to Roxbury, any Filipino public school and Ecole Lalande…??
Pigs in Canada? Pigs in the Philippines! And yeah, contrary to their own Journalists Code of Ethics, they never really got the other side before launching another idiotic bit of their ideological VICTIMOLOGY.
He quotes the following paragraph from the editorial:
We are glad to note that the Philippine Embassy in Canada has supported the boy’s mother in her complaint filed with the local school board. "The embassy considers this an affront to Philippine culture and continues to vigorously support any action that will validate a conclusion of racial discrimination," Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gilbert Asuque said the other day.
He also issues a warning:
REMEMBER ART BELL! It’s as if PDI and those kneejerk defenders of Filipino cultural and racial honor have already forgotten the Art Bell Fiasco of 2001.
Reading his post on the Inquirer editorial and the spoon-and-fork scandal in Canada, one would think that (a) the Inquirer, the DFA and other bleeding hearts based their decisions on fabrication and not fact, as though it were the Art Bell case all over again; (b) the Inquirer called Canada a despoiler of cultural heritage; (c) the Inquirer and others like it defended the seven-year-old Filipino boy in the center of the scandal unthinkingly, as a knee-jerk reaction by "nationalist lynch mobs."
My friend Dean is mistaken. It’s unfortunate that he published the one paragraph that would seem to make the case for unreasoning "fervor burning for Filipino culture." (It doesn’t, because it was taken out of context.) Sadly, he did not link to this graph:
The principal has a point, of course, about the need to adapt to the requirements of a larger culture, but he misses the larger point: Canada is celebrated for its multicultural diversity, its hospitality to various cultures. Ostracizing a 7-year-old for his eating habits-shared by countless Filipino families-runs counter to Canada’s own heritage.
Or to this one:
We are even more glad that a Canadian non-government organization dedicated to helping victims of discrimination, the Center for Research Action on Race Relations, has also filed a second complaint, seeking moral damages from the lunch monitor. That, we believe, is in keeping with the best Canadian tradition of putting your money where your mouth is.
Even a cursory reading of these two paragraphs would tell anyone that (a) no phony war between Filipino tradition and Canadian culture was posited and (b) the outrage was understood as a violation of Canada’s own highest standards.
And what was the cause of that outrage? Another paragraph Dean could have pointed to but did not reads, straightforwardly enough:
Bergeron’s unseemly conduct is based on assumptions, about culture and immigration, that can only be described as racist.
In other words, it is the school principal’s conduct which the Inquirer editorial attacked; the outrage lies in a ranking educator describing an immigrant boy’s non-normative eating habits as pig-like. That is not only an insult, to any race; it is unCanadian.
But, blind spots being what they are, my friend Dean must have read the headline, "Pigs in Canada," and jumped to what was for him a familiar conclusion. After all, he must have thought, this can only be "another idiotic bit of their ideological VICTIMOLOGY."