When the nail sticks out

rants, raves and randomness

Proud of not being proud to be Pinoy

I recently came across a post that asked :

Are Germans proud to be German?

Here is an interesting reply to that question by a native German :

It is very unusual in Germany to say “I am proud to be German”. That phrase even started big debates or cost several public figures their jobs in the past, though since 2006 (Soccer World Cup), Germans have found an easier way to relate to their country.

Many Germans will also argue that it is illogical to be proud of the accident of birth that could have just as easily placed you in Rwanda, or to be proud of your nation’s achievements when you haven’t done anything to create them.

That being said, you can sometimes find people who are paradoxically “proud of not being proud”. They (and I myself am tending more and more towards that view) are proud of Germany for being basically the only nation that has identified patriotism as the root of much evil and done away with it.

Are Germans proud to be German? Quora. < http:// www. quora. com/ Are- Germans -proud -to -be -German ? >

She mentions here the word patriotism. Let’s define patriotism :

From Google :

  1. the quality of being patriotic; vigorous support for one’s country

Some differentiate between patriotism and nationalism :

George F. Will’s statement Ukraine: A crisis that matters,” op-ed, Feb. 20 that “nationalism is a necessary, although insufficient impulse sustaining liberty” needs clarifying. Nationalism must be distinguished from patriotism.

Patriotism is fundamental to liberty because pride in one’s nation-state, and a willingness to defend it if necessary, is the basis of national independence. Patriotism is the courage of national self-determination.

By contrast, nationalism is patriotism transformed into a sentiment of superiority and aggression toward other countries. Nationalism is the poisonous idea that one’s country is superior to somebody else’s. Nationalism is intrinsically a cause of war and imperialism.

Nationalism vs. patriotism. February 23, 2014. Web. July 27, 2015. < https: // www. washingtonpost. com/ opinions/ nationalism-vs-patriotism/ 2014/02/23/ 9129d43a-9afc-11e3 -8112-52fdf646027b_ story.html >

Nationalism is viewed as the “evil” version of patriotism. For the sake of this entry, I will use patriotism and nationalism interchangeably (just because some of my sources are translated and use the word patriotism and not nationalism or vice versa).

I live in a country where patriotism is so thick in the air, you can slice it with a knife. On weekends, trucks driven by ultra-nationalists roam around Tokyo blaring anti-foreigner sentiments that urge locals to kick us out. Many of course, won’t go that far.  But there it is, unsaid because of social norms that value modesty,  bold and flashing in the air:  Japan is a great country. It probably is (or was). But somehow, many foreigners around me feel that your typical Japanese in Japan goes a step further with their unspoken (but usually implied) belief , caught by Freudian slips : Japan is greater than any other (Asian) country, if not the greatest country in the whole world. Japanese food, being both delicious and healthy, is better than any other food in the world. Japanese cars are better and faster and more efficient. And you can see this in buying habits too: Japanese tend  to trust local brands than foreign brands. And let’s not get started with the endless navel-gazing in media, where some half-wit roams around the streets of Ginza to interview a foreigner who has been to Japan for thirty-six hours : “How do you like Japan?” “Oh, I love Japan!” Everyone in the studio applauds at that validation of being a Japanese in Japan,  prompting some people to comment :

The unique thing in Japan is the constant insecure navel gazing. I’ve never seen a country so fascinated with its own image and how others see it. Also so desperate to be unique…

From The JapanTimes

But what the **** are you proud of? I once asked my husband. And when I want world war, I provoke : You lost the war!   There are so much whitewashing in Japanese history books that I find I cannot completely blame the young people of today for their ignorance. On the other hand, it’s 2015. Everyone has an internet access, and if someone really wants to know the truth, it’s somewhere out there for the taking. Seek and you shall find! The subject of Japanese war atrocities is  like  the Fukushima disaster : so much cover-ups and lies while people blindly believe the authorities and their version of the truth. It takes an open mind to actually want to step out of our protected bubbles to actively seek the truth :  Because the truth, in some cases, is not convenient. It offends. It will make you question what it is to be a citizen of your country. And that is exactly the problem with patriotism : It highlights the good and sweeps the bad under the rug.

Haruki Murakami, the writer, compared nationalism to a cheap liquor :

It’s like cheap alcohol. It gets you drunk after only a few shots and makes you hysterical. It makes you speak loudly and act rudely … but after your drunken rampage you are left with nothing but an awful headache the next morning.

McCurry, Justin. Haruki Murakami criticises ‘hysteria’ over islands row. The Guardian. October 1, 2012. Web. July 27, 2015. < www. theguardian. com/ world/ 2012/ oct/ 01/ haruki- murakami- hysteria- islands-row >

But it’s not only Japan.

Each country has its version of nationalism, China included.

This video became viral in 2008.

Evan Osnos, author of the book “Age of Ambition : Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China” wrote :

The video by CTGZ  [], captured the mood of nationalism in the air , and in its first week and a half online, it drew more than a million hits and tens of thousands of favorable comments.  The film was attracting, on average, two clicks per seconds, and it became a manifesto for a self-styled vanguard in defense of China’s honor, a patriotic swatch of society that the Chinese fen quin, “the angry youth”

Osnos, Evan. Age of Ambition :Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Page 134

The person who made the video, Tang Jie, was exposed to patriotism, “an overt presence” in his house.

 To prevent a recurrence of Tiananmen , the Party had a redoubled its commitment to Thought Work directed at China’s young people. When Tang Jie was in primary school, President Jiang Zemin sent a letter to the Education Ministry calling for a new approach to explaining China’s history “even to the kids in kindergarten,” the president wrote. The new approach emphasized the bainian guochi – the “century of national humiliation” – an arc of events extending from China’s defeat in the Opium Wars of the mid-nineteenth century to the Japanese occupation of Chinese soil during World War II.

By focusing on “patriotic education,” the Party explain, it would “boost the nation’s spirit” and “enhance cohesion.” Students were taught to “never forget national humiliation.” The National People’s Congress approved a holiday called National Humiliation Day, and textbooks were rewritten.The Practical Dictionary of Patriotic Education included a 355-page section on the details of China’s humiliations. Nationalism helped the Party smooth over the paradox of being a socialist vanguard of a free-market economy. The new textbooks transformed the explanation of China’s suffering to deemphasize the role of “class enemies” and to emphasize the role of foreign invaders. In the Mao years, China had whitewashed its defeats, but now students took field trips to places where China had suffered atrocities. To appeal to young men, the Communist Youth League invested in the development of patriotic video games such as Resistance War Online, in which users took on the role of Red Army soldier machine-gunning Japanese invaders.

Osnos, Evan. Age of Ambition :Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Pages 140-141

I came across another article about Thailand. Here’s an excerpt:

Being Thai: Has patriotism in Thailand gone too far?

If you happened to live in Thailand during the ’90s, chances are you have heard at least one song written by Nitipong “Dee” Honark. The popular and prolific songwriter has produced over 100 hits in the past few decades and now sits as one of the ‘Thailand’s Got Talent’ judges. Beyond his musical abilities, Dee is also an outspoken patriot. Not only did he publicly vow to shave his head if the national football team lost to Myanmar (Burma) at the SEA Games, Dee also took time during the recent political conflicts to write songs about peace and love to harmonize Thai people.

Last week, the 55-year-old songwriter ignited a human rights debate after he commented on Thailand’s recent deportation of Uighurs to China. “Thai people have nothing to do with it, no plus or minus. It’s between China and the Uighurs. That the Chinese government may get brutal with the Uighurs, Muslim Turks, has nothing to do with us. We never have had problems with anyone. It’s their history, not ours,” he wrote on Facebook. Dee’s willingness to relieve Thailand from any wrongdoing brought in people from both sides of the argument, lauding and condemning him.

It might have surprised some fans of Dee’s songs, how a man so romantic and peace-loving became intolerant when it comes to people of other nationality – but his standpoint, shared by many Thai nationalists, is not at all surprising. Behind the smokescreen of love for country, ethnocentrism is flourishing in Thai society.

Panyalimpanun, Thitipol. Being Thai: Has patriotism in Thailand gone too far. Asian Correspondent. July 22, 2015. Web. July 27, 2015. < http:// asiancorrespondent. com/ 134276/ being- thai- has- patriotism -in- thailand-gone-too-far / >

And now let’s go to the Philippines : the Pinoy Pride.

Proud of not being proud to be Pinoy

Proud of not being proud to be Pinoy. Proud to be Pinoy on Google.

Pinoy Pride is most evident before, during and after a Pacquiao fight. It’s slice of feel good that everyone wants to have, amidst the everyday news of crimes and disasters. It does feel good to be validated, doesn’t it ?  To say “I’m proud to be Pinoy” to the rest of the world who are, in the career world, our superiors and masters. But before draping yourself with a Filipino flag, ask yourself this question, the very same question I asked my husband: What exactly are you proud of ? I’ve stopped watching Pacquiao fights, mainly because

a) I work on weekends

b) And frankly, I’d rather make a living than watch his fights

c) Can’t stand the folks who free-ride the Pinoy pride wave without any real contribution to society.

In surfing terms, it’s like riding a wave that you didn’t paddle for.

How can you be proud of something that just happened to happen, without you lifting a finger to make it happen? It’s like being proud of being blessed with good looks, height,  or being born of a wealthy family: an accident of circumstance. Did you earn this pride that you are waving around, flaunting on FB for all the world to see?  Pacquiao sure did.  Maybe Akio Morita did. And maybe Ai Wei Wei did too. Let’s face it : while China and Japan as countries have much to be ashamed of, they also have much to be proud of. But what about us, on  a collective and individual level? I can rattle off the complaints about my country, but this post is not meant to be a rant. Because when someone writes an entry or posts a video criticizing one (or more) aspect of the Philippines, netizens go apeshit. Like nationalists of our neighboring countries, we Pinoys are overly sensitive and offended by every little bit of negative feed back we get. Sure, some of them are just trolling, hoping to make money off the clicks and shares. But I can also personally say that some of them are good criticisms. Offensive, yes. Sad, yes. But valid and true, nonetheless.

The problem with Pinoy Pride: Just because they are inconvenient or offend you doesn’t mean they can’t be true.

We just aren’t there yet. Pinoy pride is pre-mature. We may not have big things to be ashamed of (such as starting world wars or genocide) but neither do we have big things to be proud of. We haven’t earned it, not as a nation, not as individuals. Sorry to rain on your parade.

The good news is, Pacquiao is only one man. We’re a hundred million strong. Look at that potential.

For now, I am proud of being not proud to be Pinoy.

But why can nationalism be bad, even if we earn it?

Because nationalism emphasizes a collective identity, a shared culture, history, set of values or language (or all) ,  it is sometimes exploited to score cheap political points to get public support. Or simply put, nationalism para pampapogi. VP Binay’s message to OFWs in Singapore, after Google agreed to take down an anti-Pinoy post, was peppered with words such as “taas noo” “ipagmalaki” “proud“. And because it’s Binay,  whose actions are always pre-meditated and politically-motivated, it makes you think what the real intention behind that message is. Sometimes nationalism is set alight at the expense of the “other”, the need to accentuate oneself against an enemy. Tokyo’s former governor, Shintaro Ishihara is known for his racist comments and his attempts to “restore pride in Japanese nationalism“. Last year China attempted to organize an anti-Japan campaign by inviting politicians from Taiwan and Germany to bad-mouth Japan (which backfired).

I found a good image on the internet that shows this : (A good representation of Sino-Japanese relations, if you ask me)

Proud to be not proud to be Pinoy. The Problem with Patriotism. By Lisa Wade. Image by Tom Gauld from <thesocietypages.org/ socimages/ 2015/ 04/ 12/ sunday- fun- the-problem-with-patriotism/ >

Proud of not being proud to be Pinoy. The Problem with Patriotism. By Lisa Wade. Image by Tom Gauld from <thesocietypages.org/ socimages/ 2015/ 04/ 12/ sunday- fun- the-problem-with-patriotism/ >

Haruki Murakami  accused Japan and China of “inflaming the situation by using nationalist rhetoric“.

When a territorial issue ceases to be a practical matter and enters the realm of ‘national emotions’, it creates a dangerous situation with no exit,” Haruki Murakami wrote.

McCurry, Justin. Haruki Murakami criticises ‘hysteria’ over islands row. The Guardian. October 1, 2012. Web. July 27, 2015. < www. theguardian. com/ world/ 2012/ oct/ 01/ haruki- murakami- hysteria- islands-row >

Evan Osnos writes :

Emotion and policy became harder to separate. When Chinese diplomats denounced actions of another government, they often said it “hurt the feelings of Chinese people.” They invoked this idea with increasing frequency; one journalist, Fang Kecheng, counted up those occasions and found that China’s feelings were hurt only three times between 1949 and 1978, but by the eighties and nineties it was happening an average of five times a year.

Osnos, Evan. Age of Ambition : Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Page 141

Unchecked nationalism has a way of rolling over liberal aspirations. That’s because the intense emotions of identity politics have a way of stifling the tolerance that is one of the most fundamental of democratic principles,” writes Christian Caryle of Foreign Policy, in his article, “The Problem with Patriotism”.

So, nationalism => emotions => intolerance => people going ape, unable to think clearly

Nationalism can have serious consequences :

1) It can lead to war

Nationalism has been closely associated with the most destructive wars of human history; the revisionist states responsible for initiating both the First and the Second World Wars have historically been examined as the epitome of the dangers of nationalism.

Bingham, James. How Significant is Nationalism as a Cause of War?E-International Relations Students. June 19, 2012. Web. July 27, 2015. < http://  www. e-ir. info/ 2012/ 06/19/ how-significant -is-nationalism -as-a- cause-of-war/ >

2) It can affect trade
But even if it doesn’t come to that, the consequences are potentially devastating. Trade between the two countries is now worth some $345 billion a year. Some Japanese factories in China have already cut back on production due to the political instability. Chinese demonstrators have been calling for a boycott of Japanese goods. Anything that slows down the flow of goods and services between the two countries is a bad idea at a time when both are struggling to keep their economies chugging along.
Caryle, Christian. The Problem with Patriotism. Foreign Policy. September 19, 2012. Web. July 27, 2015. < http:// foreignpolicy.com/ 2012/ 09/ 19/ the- problem -with- patriotism/ >
3) Tourism suffers

Some Chinese tourists from Beijing and Shanghai are calling off holiday plans to Japan for the upcoming National Day holiday, according to Chinese media.

The cancellations come after the Japanese government’s September 11 approval of the purchase of several small, disputed islands from  a private Japanese owner, the Kurihara family, for 2.05 billion yen (US$26.2 million).

Chinese tourists cancel trips to Japan amid island spat. CNN. September 13, 2012. Web. July 27, 2015. < http:// travel.cnn.com/ shanghai/ life/ chinese-tourists-cancel-trips-japan-amid-island-spat-110241 >

4) Citizens are deluded about their own greatness and blinded about their faults

Either by conformity or a successful system, the meanings of “Thai,” “Patriotic” and “Righteous” have over time become entwined, and national shortcomings and fallacies easily take refuge in such ambiguity that shields them against change. Nepotism, for instance, is expected as part of a Thai-styled business practice. Dictatorship is accepted as Thai-styled democracy. “For the nation” is an excuse widely used and seemingly legitimate in many decisions, from funding movies to staging coups d’etat. At times when Thai pride prevails logic, it makes sense too to ask France on Bastille Day to return Thai dissidents wanted for lese majeste prosecution.

Panyalimpanun, Thitipol. Being Thai: Has patriotism in Thailand gone too far. Asian Correspondent. July 22, 2015. Web. July 27, 2015. < http:// asiancorrespondent. com/ 134276/ being- thai- has- patriotism -in- thailand-gone-too-far / >

5) People become intolerant

In the days following the September 11th terrorist attacks, hate crimes against Muslims across the country increased and included vandalism, arson, assault, harassment, shootings, and even murder.

Stonebarger, Amanda. When Patriotism Becomes Intolerance. Blogcritics. October 27, 2011. Web. July 27, 2015. < http:// blogcritics.org/ when- patriotism- becomes -intolerance/ >

Haruki Murakami warns us :

We must be careful about politicians and polemicists who lavish us with this cheap alcohol and allow things to get out of control.

McCurry, Justin. Haruki Murakami criticises ‘hysteria’ over islands row. The Guardian. October 1, 2012. Web. July 27, 2015. < www. theguardian. com/ world/ 2012/ oct/ 01/ haruki- murakami- hysteria- islands-row >

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