The Bounds of Patriotism

When he won the men’s 100 meter dash in 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and bestowed that most prestigious honor of being the fastest man in the world, Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey’s response to the reporter’s question as to why he was carrying two flags as he was being mobbed by his adoring and patriotic fans was – “I am Jamaican first and Canadian second”. Brian Viloria, Hawaiian-born boxer of Pinoy parents and current WBC Junior Flyweight titleholder , in his post-fight interview by HBO’s Larry Merchant after his phenomenal 1st round KO victory over Eric Ortiz was introduced by Merchant as an American of Filipino descent. Viloria promptly retorted , as if trying to nullify Merchant’s comment, that he considers himself 100 % Filipino and proud of his father’s roots. Viloria went on to wave the Filipino flag eliciting a raccous response from a highly partisan Vegas crowd. The question is – were their comments unpatriotic? Have these people done a disservice to the countries they represent ?

The FIFA World Cup is one event that brings forth echoes of Bailey and Viloria’s controversial sentiments. When Italy won against Germany, a section in the city of Toronto populated mainly by people of Italian heritage called Little Italy was like a mob scene. Thousands of fans were jumping up and down like crazy shouting and honking their car horns, waving the Italian flag, rejoicing and jubilant in their glorious victory. One man shown on TV was literally crying, still and holding his cell phone oblivious of the party he was having a conversation with, shouting Italia! Italia! The chaotic scene of hundreds of fans taking the streets of Toronto, cheering for the country from where their ancestors were born is no longer considered moot. After all this country is a land of immigrants and a melting pot of many nations of the world. Once every four years that opportunity to celebrate with pride one’s country of origin in such a thrilling and magnificent competitive event as the FIFA World Cup is an absolutely incredible experience. But as soon the euphoria is over, everyone goes back to minding his own business, continuing with the task of respecting each other’s diversity and building the country that nurtures his hopes and aspirations, a country that he is greatly indebted to.

When I think of the 17 “homegrown” Islamic terrorists who were arrested for plotting to bomb strategic government buildings and offices, I ask myself the question – why the destruction? Why cut the hand that rocks the cradle? Those terrorists who were born here are flat out traitors, pathetic ingrates who have no sense of patriotism and it boggles my mind why they would continue to live here, avail of free health care , free education and then destroy the very society that gave them these benefits. Equally treacherous and vile are those that immigrated here with the purpose of destroying the society that is inhabited by infidels who are supposedly wretched and evil. If these people can’t stand the infidels, I’m wondering why they insist on staying. Maybe they should move to their own promised land where they could live without the prejudices and the stress of integrating with people they consider having nothing in common. The hypocrisy is so disgusting and sickening.

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18 Responses

  1. I wonder if immigration laws or naturalization laws for that matter in America of Canada requires that an immigrant should renounce his or her former citizenship and refrain from showing any form of abeyance to it or otherwise, their citizenship will be revoked? In my law studies, I didn’t really read about this thing since it was a very minor subject; yet I feel that immigration laws should have some sort of restrictions on this cause immigrants who remains loyal to their home country may be a disservice to their new home, especially when espionage or terrorism is concerned. Aren’t they made to sing the national anthems of their adopted homeland or made to memorize their creed or loyalty recitation?

    Oh well; I guess in this evolving modern times, individuals seem to be able already to maintain dual or even multiple national identities. It’s a new world order,…sort of.

  2. It is OK to celebrate and honor the traditions of your former country. In fact Canada has a multi-culturalism act enshrined in its constitution. When an athlete officially represents his country in a sporting event, he should be conscious of political correctness when making statements that could question his patriotism.

  3. Hehe, maybe the government can ‘assist’ these terrorists by ‘dispatching’ them prematurely to meet their 70 or so ‘virgins’ in their version of ‘paradise’. 🙂

  4. That’s been the crux of debate here where people had been crying foul over the government’s decision of not granting bail to these traitors. They have been spoofed for 2 years and finally pounced on when the evidences affirmed their sinister activity. The bad part is these folks are reportedly “homegrown” with no links to organized terrorism. This makes it even more disturbing that these guys can wake up one day and decide to blow those who don’t subscribe to their beliefs!

  5. I believe in democracy – people can celebrate whatever they want to, follow the culture and traditions that they wish to have. But each and everyone should learn to respect each other’s beliefs and practices.

  6. Hypothetically speaking, of course, had I won a gold medal in the Olympics as a member of the US contingent, I would proudly wave the American flag, for it is, after all, the country and its people that got me there to begin with. I will just expound later on – through media interviews and ensuing book deals 🙂 — about my Filipino background or heritage and then celebrate with various Filipino communities all over the States. I say this out of basic respect and decency.

    I also try to remain cognizant and work out any criticism or grudges I may have against the US or Philippines, and if ever I do harbor such unresolved issues, I might as well pack up and move to Tibet, or somewhere else in the Himalayas and seek inner peace, instead of conniving to inflict harm or cause destruction in my host countries. Again, it’s the only decent thing to do.

    I’ve also met newly-settled Filipinos in the States who had nothing but bad things to say about the Philippines. I have also heard of some foreigners currently based here in Manila who wouldn’t think twice about putting down our city and some of the Filipino way of life while they make a living if not a fortune here in the Philippines. There are also the arrogant ones who treat the locals as second-class citizens. These are basically displays of a lack of basic decency.

    I think what it boils down to is that it isn’t so much the patriotism or citizenship of the person that is of issue here, but rather his very basic qualities as a human being.

  7. Absolutely true Jiaram. People may criticize other cultures because no one is perfect but respecting our differences is key and not hatred for those who are quite different from us.

  8. You have a valid point there Senor Enrique. Sometimes we Pinoys are quite hardsh on our self assessment of oursleves and this could be the result of frustration and helplessness. I feel that we can talk about Pinas issues amongst Pinoys if only to learn and understand why things have gone array back home. I happen to believe that you can only learn what your country is like when you live abroad.

    I have metioned the word patriotism because I think dwelling too much on our distinctiveness and insisting on being different and not integrating with people affects the unity of a country.

  9. Perhaps Viloria thought if he’d wave the Philippine flag, he’ll enjoy more media mileage in the Philippines, be considered a “hero” by Pinoys and be talked about for some time. Had he waved the American flag, well, USA will take it as “okay, just one of our many minor successes. Next.”

  10. Good point and I agree, BW 🙂

  11. Abaniko – I see Mexican-American boxers wear two flags on their trousers and there’s nothing wrong with that. True – maybe Viloria was trying to appeal to the large Pinoy crowd but I thought the comments on TV was “politically” out of line. Viloria having represented the US in the Oylympics should have thought about his statements. After all it is his career which is on the line.

  12. It’s really hard to make sense of what the Islamic terrorists are doing. But I think it has a lot to do with their religious belief. I think it was in ABC’s 20/20 when I saw an interview of an Islam or Moslem and he explained that they believe that they are the “chosen ones” and whoever doesn’t believe in their god Muhammad should be killed. That’s pretty scary.

  13. i agree with jairam. democracy is still possible. but we should never forget to respact eah other’s beliefs 🙂

  14. Niceheart – in truth, not only Islam that has the monopoly of triumphalism. A religion that subscribes to the “chosen people” theology like Evangelical Chritianity and Judaism run the risk of being misrepresented by fundamentalists who have been taken over by arrogance and intolerance. The question is – What about respect for the law of the land? Does it matter at all?

    Tin – indeed, respect of others is key to a democratic society. The rule says so but the practice may not work to the letter. I believe every democratic country has its own unique challenges.

  15. it is learning when to say what to say that makes a man. some people are like this, just to impress, they blurt out words not really necessary in a situation or occassion. it will be late to even say ‘sorry’. whatever the motive is in each situation, patriotism is way-out not in the list.

  16. Terrorists will always be terrorists. They will be loyal only to one thing: terrorizing society to sell a warped ideology supported by well-thought-of methods of death and destruction.

  17. Bingskee – people tend to look at Americans as rude, arrogant and selfish to each other but collectively as a people they know how to make their country work. In the state of New Hampshire for example, their car plate template have the words ” LIVE FREE OR DIE” which to me is a testament to how they value their freedom and the quality of life in their nation. To me this translates into patriotism – love of country which goes beyond cheering for a compatriot in sports event.The politicians who were seated ringside showing support for Pacquiao may look patriotic and proud but they will be the least patriotic people in the nation if they are sucking the coffers of the country dry for their self-interests.

    But I also agree with you that a person worrying where to find food for the family table has patriotism last in his mind.

  18. Jayred – true ,terrorists motivated by religious beliefs show no allegiance to any nation. Their main goal is martyrdom and the existence of enemies is necessary to achieve this.

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