Can You Purchase A Bazooka At Walmart?

by PAUL LAO
edited by ANDREW HICKS and WOO

At work, I was serving a couple who were curious to know my nationality. They were half-Filipino/half-white, and I was trying to describe to them the general location of Cambodia on a map. So I basically broke down Asia into the big pieces: Mainland China, Japan and Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia) in relation to the Philippines. I mentioned India, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they immediately exploded into prejudice comments. (“Damn towelheads! Red dot hodgies!”)

Two weeks after 9/11, when I was in school at IU, a girl from Indonesia was reported to have been punched in the face by a male on campus. She may have been Muslim. But there are over a billion Muslims worldwide who have no ties to Al Queda, just as neo-Nazis and Klansmen who are Christians don’t represent the whole religion or all white people, even though they would certainly like to.

Quick judgments based on profiling frustrate me. We dehumanize foreigners while America’s reputation as a nation of elitists is overshadowed by impatient, fat, lazy, selfish domestic attitudes. As Americans, we are divided on when our nation should go to war. Should we go to war to stop genocide? Should we go to war with Central and/or South American nations because they ship drugs into our country? One definite — we can always wage war in the name of revenge. See: Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

I think that’s the appeal of science fiction and the G.I. Joe archetype. Think about it a consequence-free environment to vent extreme hate on a faceless enemy. To wreak havoc among an odd culture’s bizarre-looking “evildoer.” In G.I. Joe, Cobra Commander is a masked anarchist who apparently has Hitler-like public speaking abilities.

And it’s okay to hate Contras, guerrillas, freedom fighters and now insurgents. Which is odd because when England decided to impose taxes and religion on America way back when, we fought back like some freedom-fighting guerrillas. Slavery caused people to fight back. And “insurgents” is another way of saying “a violent internal uprising against a sovereign government.” These uprisings merely lack the organization of a revolution, and many of them have absolutely nothing to do with Al Queda.

The point is, we can’t blindly hate. We need to understand before we make quick judgments. We need to listen before we speak. The worst part of talking to many strangers is the two-dimensional prejudice that washes over them when they here mere mention of the name of a country they hate. It makes me sad.

That said, it’s my turn to sit on the Wal-Mart roof with my bazooka and protect the almighty American retailer from terrorists.

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