Buencamino does political affairs analysis for Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the newspaper Today, 22 October  2004, page 11.

In my old age, I’m still in the frontlines of the trenches of daily journalism…so I laugh when some self righteous, pontificating columnist calls me a “bigot”…My advice to such sermonizers is : Get down there to the mean streets, go into the squalor of the real world, where there’s danger everywhere, even in the holiest places and “sanctuaries” where dark plots are hatched under cover of piety – Max Soliven

The beauty of 24-hour TV news channels is one does not need to be in the “frontlines of the trenches of daily journalism” to witness news as it unfolds. One can do it from the safety of a hotel room in Madrid, Jakarta or a bedroom in Manila. As a matter of fact, many times one has to rely on television film crews equipped with telephoto lenses because the police, to prevent rubbernecks from interfering in their investigation, routinely rope off areas where terrorist bombings occur.

I have been to the “mean streets” of Greenhills, seen the “squalor” where Greenhitlers want Muslims to pray and sensed no “danger everywhere” and witnessed no “dark plots hatched under the cover of piety.” All I saw were Muslims praying in a dingy alley. But, one can develop doubts about what he saw when he is bombarded with carefully selected information, spurious associations, exaggerations, and stereotypes of “them.”

For example, “Five Christian churches were attacked and “bombed” in Iraq yesterday by Muslim militants. (Perhaps they’ll blame it on the Jews, like they did 9/11?)…”

“They”? When a “they” frame is introduced and accepted, critical thinking ends. In its place, caricatures emerge and bigotry enters discourse.

” The Goma-Dos explosives, packed in knapsacks on each doomed train [referring to the Madrid train bombing], had been set off by cellphones (movils) cunningly rigged as triggers. (The movils were obtained in shops in one of the Muslim suburbs of the city).”

That reminds one of Muslims who peddle cellphones in a suburb of Manila, doesn’t it?  Isn’t insinuating an association, albeit parenthetically, between shops in one of the Muslim suburbs of Madrid and Muslim shops in a suburb of Manila as cheap as linking someone to two terrible terrorist bombings because, in both instances, he arrived in those places the night before the incidents occurred?

“Are the Indonesians who are 88 percent Muslim “profiling” Muslims in their country as terrorists? No way—neither are we in Greenhills. But they’ve pinpointed Muslim preacher Bashir, who taught his incendiary ideals from his Mosque and peasantren in East Java (the word they use in Bahasa for their equivalent of our Muslim madrasa or Koranic religious schools here). The Indonesians know where the danger lies, so should we.”

Susmariosep, it’s a prayer room not a Koranic Montessori that Don Rafa Ortigas wants to build.

“The obvious compromise is to have an Ecumenical Prayer Room for everybody, not an exclusive Islamic Center.”

It’s quite a leap to describe an Islamic prayer room as an “exclusive Islamic Center”, isn’t it?  At any rate, questions regarding the “obvious compromise” need to be asked. Can Christians, Muslims and Jews pray in the same room at the same time? If not, what happens when their prayer hours coincide? Who will decide who prays when?

“In Saudi Arabia—believe me, I’ve been there—not one single Christian chapel, much less church is permitted. No Christians or infidels, only Muslims, are allowed to enter the most holy city of Makkah (Mecca)
,,, If that’s what Saudi Arabia’s Islamic law requires, we respect it. That’s what they want,.. Our 900,000 OFWs working there happily abide by it.”

Similarly, Muslim stall owners in Greenhills should be considered OFWs from Moroland and should be grateful they’re allowed to ply their trade inside Christendom and not abuse the hospitality accorded them by insisting on practicing their religion in Greenhills, right?

Are Greenhitlers really going to stand on, “Not here—but somewhere else, even nearby”, the favorite racist line against blacks moving into white neighborhoods? What ever happened to “We are all God’s children”, “Love thy neighbor”, and “Condemn the sin not the sinner?”

Finally, there’s the problem of enforcing style in fashionable Greenhills.

“An operator of a small restaurant who’s terrified and about to close shop, spoke of incidents where impatient Muslim customers pulled out their pearl-handled .45 caliber pistols (they love expensive, pearly firearms)”

By gum, I suppose “their” taste for “expensive pearly firearms” means “they” have a fashion disability and that’s reason enough not to give “them” a place to pray.

Muslims can have stalls in Greenhills but they can’t have a place to pray.  Is this what it’s all about? Or is this going to be a precedent for zoning Muslims out of other neighborhoods, as well?

The leader of the “Back to Africa” movement once said he respected the Ku Klux Klan if only because they were open about their bigotry. They did not use parentheses as camouflage.

Sig Heil !

Say it loud.