By Carolina S. Ruiz Austria

The word "Heresy"

was used by Irenaeus in Contra Haereses to discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. It has no purely objective meaning without an authoritative system of dogma.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Desperately Seeking Racists

When I got the petition asking Filipinos all over the world to demand an apology from ABC over a supposed "racial slur" in a "Desperate Houswives" episode, I suspended my judgement util I could view the episode excerpt myself. This, despite receiving the petiton from what I would call in my case, trusted sources. They were colleagues and friends from the DFA whose moral judgements and ethical backgrounds I wouldn't doubt any day.

I saw the clip and a news item with a forum for reactions in the usual news/web intercative format we, who ihabit the web are by now, used to.

It made me realize how narrow the issue at hand is being framed. The AOL forum here asks: "Was it racist?" OR "Was it just a Joke?"

Framing it as an issue of whether it was in fact "racist" OR "just a joke" is to me, the biggest mistake of our time in the here and now. Yes, I could see IT WAS a joke in fact, a punch line, the news item called it.

But it does'nt mean there was nothing "racially" offensive about it. Was it racist? Who is racist? What is a racist? (Sadly, the labelling continues and I worry, to the detriment of perhaps learning from this?)

That is a more difficult question to answer this day and age. Who wrote it? I could imagine some upcoming perhaps even established comedy writer/screenwriter who (up till now) imagined himself among the PC people in the planet, being behind this.

What I do acknowledge the script and the episode showed me us is that this particular idea of "Philippine medical schools being subtandard" or our "professionals being not well trained" is apparently a common enough or a dominant view for sure (among Americans), for the makers of the show to even have considered it an acceptable "punch line."

After all that is where "the punchline" depends: an accepted, commonly held premise.

So why is it that super economies like the US and Canada and the UK with their affluence and their ivy league and great schools aren't the ones churning out the "ideal" medical professionals to serve their public?

Indeed, if anything, this idea that medical or health education in the Philippines is "not up to par" does reflect this disdain (and distrust) for the "third world other."

But why is there a continuing demand on the Philippines and other TW countres to send their health professionals to these affluent nations? This I think is the issue we ought to be asking now and the answer is anything BUT funny.

I sense a missed opportunity here if we are going to do about it is to "fight over" the labels of "racist" or "crybaby" (because the folks in the forum on the AOL site were labelling each other big time last I looked and it was accusations left and right).

To my mind, it isn't a matter so much of whether the entire cast and crew are racist because that is something I do not know for sure. I ackowledge ABC offended a lot of people and should apologize but it doesn't end here.

I am less concerned with their PC promises to be more "sensitive" as I am keen on following up the points I just raised about the world we live in here and now.

Not lot of people get concerned or know about the ,World Trade Organization, GATTS and Mode 4, which may very well be the most important issues this Desperately Seeking Housewives episode can bring forward.

That health professionals from the Philippines are leaving families behind to work abroad, and many of them leaving home with their families is not a simple matter. It has far reaching implications for Filipinos left behind without adequate health care providers, as well as real people (which is what migrant workers and all foreigners are) who make key decisions about "leaving home" simply because of the dream of a "better life." Uprooting one's family to settle elsewhere is a big deal, really.

Yet this is where we are today: Filipino doctors, nurses and care givers migrating en mass. Our doctors even migrate to become nurses and yet are doubted for their qualifications? You would think that beyond thinking the line was funny, these people behind ABC ought to be doing something about exploring WHY they thought this was funny (along with others like them obviously there was a segment of the population, if not the majority who thought this was funny stuff!)?

Why is our world ordered or arranged the way it is now? How much does this distrust of foreign training, particularly Philppine training come from? Because they proliferate the system? Why do the US, Canadian, UK and even Middle East keep on recruiting them anyway?

Obviously, these people fulfill a need and do meet qualifications. It is an important need but this isn't the only reality here. The one that BITES is that by getting foreigners from a third world country like the Philippines, their health care systems get to spend LESS while not really offering health care for less...

At the end of the day, even the most racist red neck who guffawed over this slur is a big LOSER in his health care system that is, in the scheme of things.


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