Skip to comments.It's when you begin to see..
Posted on 02/23/2005 4:15:13 AM PST by pickrell
It was decades ago, and it was yesterday. I haven't been paying attention as I walk, and now I'm gonna die.
Standing there in my fatigues, trim and proud at 185 pounds, full of myself from being 19 years old, I suddenly stopped and realized that I was staring into the face of nearly a ton of death. The carabou had heavy, serious horns that looked like even trees would step quickly aside in fear. Even as I calculated my chances of outrunning this monster, and involuntary thoughts sprang to mind about how wide my smear would be if I lost the footrace with this biological bulldozer, a ten year old local deftly interposed himself. "I'm sorry if he is bothering you, sir," the boy apologized to me, in flawless english. "I should be watching him more carefully."
My mouth sagged open as the kid caught a small string hanging from the beast's nose ring, and led him back to the thatched hut that served as the family home. The beast glanced briefly back at me as if to snicker.
That's when I began to see.
This was a world different from our own. I warn't in Kansas no more.
Look at this young kid. He is the future of the Philippines. He carries a bolo, which is a machete of no small size, slung from his trousers. In the United States, such a tool in the hands of a minor would land parents in jail. But here, the adults figure that their children will show as much responsibility as is demanded of them. With this machete, he can husk a coconut, drop kunai grass, harvest the local variety of banana to feed the pigs, and perform myriad farm tasks that we at home would consider child abuse. He does it to help feed his sisters. He smiles as he works, because no one has explained to him that he is being exploited. He wouldn't know the word, anyway. But don't think him stupid, as we shall see.
His skill and confidence enable him to effortlessly and safely peel surigales, comotes and other foods with that massive machete, that we would carefully use a paring knife for. It would take four of him to weigh down the other side of the teeter-tooter, and yet he comes to my rescue!
He speaks Tagolog, (lit: "National"), which is the national language, as well as colloquial English, enough Chinese to deal with the traders, and two of the many provincial languages, Visayan and Bikol. I learned much later that his formal Spanish was impressive. I only know then, that his English is better that mine was when I was five years older than he! Shall I tell you how much Spanish, Chinese and Tagolog I knew at that age? His teachers have him for only the time away from his chores that his parents will allow him. In that time they pack in actual, real history; American as well as that of the Philippines. Mathematics enough to handle money vastly better than his American equivalents, morality to handle his life. He is a Catholic as 98 percent of those here are, and thus is pitied by the American Left, as a disadvantaged person. Having grown up Catholic myself, I find his reverence and respect for others less depressing than the Cape Cod crowd does.
He thirsts to read more, but books have to be bought here, as there are no public libraries. Cast off, aged newspapers from various countries satisfy and yet feed his dreams of adventure. Rice and vegetables bought from the local sari-sari store come wrapped in these old papers, and the words are not wasted. It is said that the U.S. Navy will accept filipinos for stewards and other tasks. His dreams expand. He gets information from wherever he can, and absorbs it like a sponge. He and his friends will soon discover American network news.
Strangely that doesn't leave any time for their school teachers, even if they were so inclined, to relentlessly hammer into them in the American fashion, the differences between the various ethnic groups in his neighborhood. These teachers just assume that the children will realize that they are all filipinos and god's children. What binds them together is respect for each other, no matter their income level. They have no political action committees, just Barrio Fiestas when a marriage occurs. When I was honored to attend one, I marveled that we in the U.S. have never seen a whole village celebrate without need of drugs.
You can't imagine the food, poor though they are. As cooks, as gardeners, the treats make you swear to be a better person if you could have just one more plate full. They marvel at how much an American can eat, and figure that you are going out of your way to do them an honor by doing so. I would trade a thousand hamburgers for another meal like that. Even now, I can see them in their finery; their "barongs" the most beautiful "shirts" you could imagine.
What is important to their teachers is to teach them the dignity of caring enough about their parents and family to help out without being asked. To separate them into ethnic groups would seem not only pointless, but cruel, somehow. Still, they aren't as sophisticated as the outside world, so the kids have no clue as to why some of their playmates speak better Spanish, or Chinese or Pampangan or Negrito. They only know which ones are better at stick ball.
That's when I began to see.
His parents entrust him with the Carabou, which to an average filipino family is a combination of plow-tractor, truck, fertilizer factory and breeding animal. To lose this animal would impoverish them irreparably.
The family carabou.
To understand- you would have to wipe from your mind all of our infantile American notions of what impoverishment actually means. Here, there is no welfare, no food stamps, and no safety net. A mistake means your children die. Period. Anyone who ever visited a land like this would bite off his own tongue back at home before he would ever complain about "poverty" again.
That's what the young man was trusted with. Even as I am realizing this, I watch the child tie up that monster which I earlier might have mistakenly called a "water buffalo", to a small tree in his "front yard".
Behind the family hut, I noticed several odd, elongated mounds that were grown over with grass. My suspicions were later confirmed when my girlfriend explained that three mounds meant that three children died, leaving only the other four a chance to share the chores. They were buried close to the house out of love. Most kids here bear the scars from surviving smallpox, since the vaccine is expensive and beyond most families' means. But pneumonia takes even more tiny lives.
Doctors are not an option, except for the wealthy. I will never wash the sight of those three small mounds from my mind. Pneumonia was then the leading cause of death in the country. Probably it still is.
No statesider would believe that three adults and four children could possible fit in, and certainly not live in, this 12 foot by 12 foot "house". As small as it is, and as sparsely furnished with only sleeping mats, a few chairs, and the "cabinet"- I notice that the house is immaculately clean. The filipino philosophy is that being poor is no excuse for being dirty. Shamed, I can't help but reflect back on the streets of Akron, Ohio and realize what a distance separates our two worlds. It's 1973 and littered streets covered with disrespectful graffiti grace American cities. Drugs have begun sapping our decency, and are gaily promoted by comedians and movies. Turn on, tune in and drop out. So long as someone else makes breakfast ready for you, of course.
That's when I began to see.
He seemed so respectful after he secured the animal, smiling modestly before returning to whatever chore was assigned to him. I would have better understood his attitude towards me, a young foreigner he had never before seen, if I had somehow watched this child grow up, tutored by his father, and his grandfather who lived with the family.
The grandfather had some terrible deformity that I had never seen before; his ear lobes being entirely missing! I didn't know at the time that during World War Two, this grandfather, then my age, had aided Colonel Fertig, an American who stayed behind after the U.S. withdrew in front of the Japanese onslaught. He listened to the Japanese and reported back to the American officer. After many months, the inevitable happened and the brave young man was caught.
The Japanese dragged him into the public square and pounded wooden plugs into his ears. They hung him up to a post, to publically bleed and wail in agony at the demolished pulp of his ear canals, for the crime of loyalty to the Americans. Why he didn't die is unknown. He later figured that he was lucky, only being permanently maimed to make the point. To walk around as a gruesome reminder of the cost of cooperating with the Americans. Many of his friends died bloody deaths, along with their families, from Japanese officer's swords.
The old man apparently cried for the first time many months later, when the Americans finally came back and freed his village and country, and he never thereafter allowed an unkind word to be said in his presence about Americans. His sons passed that attitude down to his grandchildren.
Later, those grandchildren, who earlier had heard that the same Americans were then fighting and dying to free others across the ocean in Vietnam, were now beginning to be told that the soldiers were somehow... bad people. They didn't hear that from any of the locals.
They heard it instead in school, watching the first television newscasts they had ever seen... from American newsmen. On that antique black and white television, they watched a young Dan Rather explain that "crimes" were committed, and that the troops were "demoralized and dispirited". The kids not only learned better English, but apparently by watching CBS as a teaching tool, quite a bit of French as well...
At first that compelled the filipinos to be even more respectful, and fear for the safety of those Americans who went places to help people. It would take many more broadcasts to finally re-educate the few students who went past 6th grade, that the Americans weren't the honorable men that their parents always spoke of. Most of the scars from the brutal occupation of World War Two weren't as visible as the young boy's grandpa's were, and so his classmates had no reason to disbelieve the American reporters on the television, and their assessment of cruel American foreign policy.
After all, they couldn't say it... if it wasn't true. Especially on American T.V.! And the filipinos emulated the Americans whenever they could. The Americans were tall and proud and helped people. The girls loved them, and dreamed of being married and taken to the "States". They learned about it from television.
That's when they began to see...
Only blood and death went where Americans were. No grateful villagers were ever shown afterwards. No rebuilt homes, and no proud fathers squeezing their son's shoulders as they reminisced how bad "the war" was, while they watched the American troops repairing the village well so that water would run again. No one was grateful that their sons would never face such a world as they had lived through, because of these strong young G.I.'s, and their sacrifices for people they didn't even know. Instead the network newsmen showed that they had no "bias", and broadcast to the world only the burning villages, and the public execution by pistol shot to the head of a visibly tied Viet Cong. Over and over, with a relentlessness that overwhelmed old stories told by old men, the reporters taught the youth... of the rest of the world. Little girls naked and burned by napalm. The Americans couldn't protect you... they only invited tragedy. Best not to resist the tyrants in the first place. It would go hard with you afterwards. The lesson was driven home.
It took a lot to finally turn the minds of the filipino children. But it was worth it, because the reporters thereby earned network anchor slots.
It was a small price to pay, apparently. It was millions of small prices to pay, apparently. Small, learning minds.
In the hospital at Clark Air Base, our worst casualties had been flown in-country, and were being pieced together as best they could be by doctors who performed heroic feats to save lives.
Meanwhile an American actress was fawning over the brave antiaircraft gunners who had shot down some of these patients, and their buddies. By far, only a few lucky ones ever were brought back to the Philippines for treatment. Many were buried where they fell. Others would be brutalized for years in hellish conditions in the North, in the "worker's paradise." Those scenes, however, weren't looped and rebroadcast each night. A few of the men would remain forever lost; forever on patrol.
We could say nothing political, since we were military, and served civilian authorities without respect to political alignment. It wouldn't have mattered anyway. The cameras were busy filming the ones who threw their medals over the White House fence. The others- the differing opinions- were ignored. We were treated to Armed Forces Network programming that showered the opinions of the Left upon the world. How much worse it probably was for the civilians stateside. They saw even less of the truth than we did.
After we pulled out of Vietnam, the actress and the cameras went away. A few obscure foreign sources hinted that refugees were fleeing in boats and dying to escape the onslaught of retribution by the communists. Later we would hear rumors that Cambodians were being slaughtered in great numbers, vast numbers, even unimaginable numbers. These scenes weren't looped and endlessly rebroadcasted, either. The American networks showed by their absence that the death had all stopped after our troops left. The rest must have been just rumors.
The filipino kids didn't know what to believe, and were shown that the only important thing was that a burglary had occurred in the Watergate hotel. But they watched T.V. and a core anti-American element blossomed into an anticolonial fervor, later demanding great sums of money from us to protect them. Eventually they priced themselves out of the market, and we quietly handed the bases back to them, and took our weaponry, and our engineering machinery home with us. After we left, a long-dormant volcano cleared it's throat and the filipinos found out what happens when the Americans aren't there. Serious buyer's regret would set in among the ones who most loudly had agitated for us to leave. It was far too late for that.
The one who thew his medals over the wall, and "exposed" the crimes of our troops, was rewarded with a high-paying political job. The children of the world noted this, and, as they grew up and became fathers themselves, realized that he must have been right. The Americans were bad.
When men with madness in their eyes later convinced them that their children could hit back at these bad Americans by becoming martyrs, many could find no argument to counter with. The Americans were bad.
It's now 3 decades later, and everything has changed. Our children are protected from anything sharp, and pen knives and nail clippers are disabled and defused by specially trained teams, before being confiscated.. The kids learn that animals must only live in the rain forest, that they are wonderful and dangerous, and have feelings too. Farms are places in story books, where uneducated people used to live.
They are given decades of instruction at marble-paneled schools, carpeted and clean, and gifted with the best computers around. They now score so far above the rest of the world's students... that we are becoming "demoralized and dispirited."
They learn of foreign holidays, and alternative lifestyles; radical environmentalism and moral relativism. To be fair, there just isn't enough time left afterwards, without impacting on their playtime, to delve too far into the exotic subjects, like arithmetic, and civics, or learning to read and write Webster's english. There will always be time for these "extra" subjects later in high school or college. Or perhaps their employers will teach them to count and to read.
They are saved from the pressures of working the family farm or business, to extend personal growth time watching MTV. They haven't a clue what their parents fought for, or where, or why. It seems sort of remote and uninteresting. They get their factual input from the sneers of T.V. comics. But every new celebrity murder case is followed with rapt attention. Because that is where the "news" has time to dwell.
The parents of this upcoming generation, having learned the effect of relentless anti-American propaganda, that we generated ourselves, on the youth of the rest of the world, no longer tolerate the non-stop military bashing and cultural demolition programs from the media. We wouldn't dream of idealizing a college professor who compares our 9/11 dead to nazis, invoking the 1st Admendment of a Constitution that newsmen have never read, while at the same time calling for the castration of another professor, (this one a bad man), who points out that studies show a difference in the math skills of girls and boys. (They aren't angry about the study- they just are enraged that anyone will still mention the bad word "math" in front of our children. It's a four letter word, like read or pray.)
We no longer endlessly replay film of a couple of Americans mistreating captives. We no longer immerse ourselves in the perversion of unending defeatism, undermining the blood sacrifices of our troops who are trying to free a few more millions from hopeless repression. And then a few million after that. We no longer join the European broadcasters in sneering that the President of the United States is so stupid that he thinks other men deserve to be as free as we are, and will have more to live for and less to die for when given that chance. Our networks no longer enlist as the broadcast-recruitment-arm for fanatical madmen, who then use those hopeless recruit children to blow up other women and children.
Our Senators wouldn't warn off people who had never before voted and had a say in their lives, that "we would be pulling out soon, and it was best not to provoke people we couldn't protect you from." The national firestorm against such a treacherous statement would forestall any such vile utterances. Our few allies wouldn't be slandered as the "coerced and the bribed". Our people wouldn't be gravely assured that we were the lowest form of life... in the eyes of the morally pristine Europeans. No good deed, such as liberating Afghanistan, would go punished, by the party that cynically styled itself as the protector of "women's rights" and the hopes of the downtrodden, merely to try to regain political power. No one is quite that low.
Our Hollywood heroes couldn't conceive of presenting to the world an image of America as a craven, perverse, and pathetic place where anything that would thrill a jaded movie star should not only be all-right, but should be a new civil right. After all, if it happens in a bedroom between a producer and a willing young boy, it's consensual, right? The stars certainly don't enjoy "privelege", [root prive="private", lege=referring to "law"], and laws apply to everyone, right? Totally exclusive of how expensive a team of lawyers that can be hired.
We wouldn't dream of doing all that, because once the world's children become old enough to watch television...
.... they begin to see.
God we are stupid to permit this.
Just makes me mad all over again. Thank you.
Bravo..and very thought provoking..
great article! bump for reread later
Fantastic, FR oldstyle.
The only way to stop this is to stop watching. The advertisers will follow with their money. The corporate irresponsibility in financing this anti-Americanism is stunning! As long as they continue to pay others to make the decisions about where their advertising dollars go, they will continue to finance their own demise.......and ours.
Thanks for this great article pickrell and for the ping MEG33.
You are absolutely right, of course, but it seems that no matter what the many of us do, too many others will stay obliviously glued to their sets. I hate to just moan about it, but a solution seems beyond my grasp.
As one FReeper would say, "Spot on".
Best post I've read in a long while.