BALITANG  BETERANO:  DISCRIMINATION IN THE U.S.A.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, 
June 1, 2004  Culled by Col. (Ret) Frank B. Quesada, Former Senate Committee Secretary-Veterans and Military Pension, Associate, PMA Class ‘ 44  -  The struggle for justice and human rights in the United States, more particularly by the indentured Filipino-American World War II veterans – have lasted for over half-a-century of continuous legal and political flounder, writhe and squirm to no avail.

Determination and perseverance under peaceful means have sapped too much of their strength in tactfully seeking fairness from the very government that sent them to Harm’s Way in a war inherently not their own.

It was an imperial war of the United States against Japan - another imperial colonizer that fought for the natural resources and man power of the Philippine Islands since the turn of the century.

The subject matter of the thirst of the Caucasian colonizers in carving Asia for their imperialistic design dates back when they themselves were competing in subjugating minorities to exploit peoples. of color – and own them as peons.

As the popular former senator from New York, Jacob K. Javits put it, and I quote:

“Over the whole of the minority, America hung the aura of ‘caste’. One vaudevillian would ask, ‘Why is the wheel barrow the greatest of all inventions? The other vaudevillian replied, ‘Because it taught the Irishman to walk on their hind legs.’ And the audience roared.

“Polite Americans thought nothing of using phrases with derision, as “bohunk” for Hungarians, “greaseball” for Greeks, “Kike” for the Jews, a “Dago” or “Wap” for an Italian,”

And later – “Flip” for Filipino, “Chink” for the Chinese, “Jap” for the Japanese, “Gook “ for Vietnamese, “Kraut” for the German, and “Limey “ for Australians. Every immigrant had a caste trademark. That has been the American way of identifying those whom they disrespect and consider as “second class” Americans.

Snobbery has been the rude manner of unduly maintaining one’s social position as hypocrisy, which Francois dela Rochefoucauld said, “is the homage which vice render to virtue.”

It was said that wars was the best equalizer. And I saw this quite true, and personally experienced a bit of it when I first resided here shortly after World War II in 1947.

After World War I, after the dough boys returned home - the crust of caste attitude chipped away a bit. And after World War II, there was a landslide of permutation.

Racial discrimination and critical differentiation eased up a bit after the war. I still remember, and caught up with certain discriminatory practices (in the South) where the Negro had to sit in the hind seats of the bus, while the whites occupied the front seats. There were obnoxious signs such as “Dogs and blacks not allowed,” in Shanghai, in my trip in 1949.

I still recall that abominable “Exclusion Act” that was directed against the Chinese “Coolies” which prohibited them to marry a white woman. It somewhat sideswiped me as “Brown American.” Because, at times, I was mistaken for a “Chink” which not funny at all..

However, as a member of the United States Armed Forces then, in military uniform - at that juncture, I did not suffer the white man’s burden, so to speak. But I was a sore thumb between the white man and the Negro. I was the unclassified “brown American” which segregationists did not spare from their racial critical perception.

And I could feel the reluctance of white EMs to salute me. However, no matter how depraving it was on their part, they had to salute, the uniform, if not me in person as a non-white officer.

It was indeed funny, at that time when segregation was still on its height. I ventured to enter a Negro club to order a glass of beer. This may sound funny but true. Guess what happened? I was thrown out by the bouncer because I was not black.

There were times when and where I was hanging lackadaisically worrying in what category or race I belong. I was neither white or black – therefore a sentimental sandwich carefully roasted as a brown toast for breakfast. I simply have to belong – and not forlorn like a stateless refugee, or liken to what was being a stateless “wandering Jew.”

However, as a Christian, I believed that “God hath made of one blood all nation of men.” (Acts, 17:26) And that “I know of no rights of any race superior to the rights of man, according to D. Douglas.

And as explicitly put by my boyhood chum, the late Senator Jose Wright Diokno, whose mother was white and father was Filipino.

“All men are born equal, and there are only three categories: the geniueses, the straights and idiots.” And he was correct. Likewise men of culture are the ambassadors of equality. There rest were the lost generation – who insult their ignorance. Tolerance, however, it the supreme test of social progress and our culture.

The barrier then was a high wall, but soon was pregnable until Pres. D. Eisenhower had appointed a Negro, Clifton H. Wharton as U.S. Minister to Romania. He was the first Negro, initially as chief-of-mission in a predominantly white population.

And soon when my former Commanding Officer in the 11th Airborne Division, Lt. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, was appointed Commissioner of Immigration. He removed the color barrier in the Commission and approved minority workers in the Federal service. He saw for himself how minorities honorably and gallantly served the United States Armed Forces - shoulder-to-shoulder with white comrades.

The Federal Civil Rights Act was passed and the color barrier slowly faded away., especially after the Korean War and the Vietnam War, I was again activated to the military service as the first Filipino-American in the General Staff as Division Deputy Chief of Staff of the Callifornia State Defense Force, at the Army National Guard Headquarters in Sacramento, California, after serving as G-3, as Plans, Operation and Training of the growing force of 4 Brigades. And later as Logistics Advisor.

In the service, at this time - I found no trace of critical perception. Merit finds its abode in its proper place, until I also found myself a member of the reputable ad hoc U.S. Defense Committee, headed by Lt. General Daniel O. Graham, based at the White House during Pres. Ronald . Reagan Administration.

Desegregation moved on and the 1954 Supreme Court decision along with the landmark Emancipation Proclamation plus the 14th Amendment to the Constitution provided wider equality for Americans.

Albeit – the walls of discrimination tumbled down slowly, disguised critical perception still showed its ugly head once in a while from the renegade sector that could not simply accept integration.

Along with other prejudices – was religious prejudice. However, the most spectacular evidence that religious prejudice does not prevail in the 20th century was the election of Pres. John F. Kennedy (a Catholic). National votes were dominated by non-Catholics and expected Kennedy to lose. Surprisingly, it did not happen. He was elected the first Catholic president of the United states.

Then, what I observed was that law and order has been the vanguard of the much-needed social and economic reform. Law became the standard that served notice to the bigots, to the belligerent and the racists as well.

However, there were always an underside of the situation. America has been a melting pot of races. A boiling caldron of both little men, and also of great men. A nation so free – that freedom without responsibility exists like it was absolute right. Abuse of that sense of right have been quite strong to be broken. Bigotry therefore has been the effort of the feeble mind - which expresses itself with force in the white man’s burden.

Therefore – in order to solve differences and disputes, the power and prestige of law has been the essential referee which can remove the dangling threat to our democratic way of life.

An example of this is the long-overdue retarded settlement of the unpaid compensation and benefits of Filipino-American honorable and active military service in the United States Armed Forces that has been cruelly taken away by the 79th Congress under a dastardly inserted “rider” in the Rescission Act of 1946.

Such cruel hoax perpetrated by a few little men of power – have screwed up veterans so badly, these hapless aging and sickly intrepid heroes of Bataan and Corregidor were maltreated as if they were the present terrorists that have invaded the nation. They were mistreated as “second class citizens” like other minorities.

Laxity in government service which has contributed to the I security of our shores still haunts this fragile government. The legislature have failed to pass the remedial measure to honor, recognize and pay the debt of Uncle Sam to those who were sent to Harm’s Way to fight for the U.S. flag. And which would help America lead further, likewise head off racial disorder even before it starts. But the segregationists have disguised themselves in society, even in the three branches of government. not to leave out government lawlessness obtaiing.

Congress had been recreant. And therefore, these indentured war veterans went to the U.S. Court for legal remedies.

There were at least many outstanding court decisions which Congress can not ignore, or nor set aside anymore. And I hereby cite them, to wit:

(1) “ The Philippines was not a foreign territory within the meaning of the U.S.. Constitution, and that the Commonwealth of the Philippines was under the sovereignty of the United States. The United States legally involved the Philippines in a war of the United States against Japan, likewise dictated the political and military strategy of the conflict.” ( U.S. Supreme Court decisions on Insular cases).

(2) Justice Frank Murphy, had been very candid and explicit in his decision as regards economic discrimination in Steele versus N.R. Company 323 U.S. 192 (1944), to wit:

“ Economic discrimination practiced … under the color of Congressional authority raises a grave constitutional issue that should be squarely faced. Utter disregard for the dignity and well-being of colored citizens shown by the record is so pronounced as to demand the invocation of Constitutional condemnation.

“ The cloak of racism surrounding the action… refusing membership to Negroes and entering into an enforcing agreement discriminating against them, all under the guise of Congressional authority still remains. No statutory interpretation can erase the ugly sample of economic cruelty the accident of birth, has been used as to the basis to abuse individual rights by an organization purporting to act in conformity with its Congressional mandate. Any attempt to interpret the Act must take the fact into account and must realize that the constitutionality of the statute in this respect depends upon the answer given.

“ The Constitution voices its disapproval whether economic discrimination is applied under authority of the law against any race, creed or color. A sound democracy cannot allow such discrimination to go unchallenged. Racism is far too virulent today to permit the slightest refusal and in the light of the Constitution that abhors it, to expose and condemn it whether it appears in the course of a statutory interpretation.”

(3) Justice Frank Murphy – in his decision in Takahashi versus Fish and Game Commission 334 U.s. 410 (1948), opined to wit:

“ Even the most cursory examination of the background of the statute, demonstrates against such person in a manner inconsistent with the concept of equal protection of the laws , legislation of that type is not entitled to wear the cloak of constitutionality.

“ The statute in question is but once more manifestation of anti-Japanese fever which has been evident in California in varying degrees since the turn of the century. Fever, of course is traceable to the refusal or inability of certain groups to adjust themselves economically and socially. Winds of racial animosity blew un-abated.

“ Equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, however, does not permit the State to discriminate against residential aliens in such fashion, whether the purpose is to give effect to racial animosity or to protect the competitive interest.

(4) Justice Reed in the case of Railway Mail Association versus Corsi 326 U.S. 88 1945, - opined, to wit:

“ The new Civil Rights Law provides penalty against organizations that shall deny a person by reason of race, color or creed equal treatment.

“They violated the due Process and Equal Protection Causes of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and were in conflict with Federal power. We see no constitutional basis for the contention that a State can not protect workers from exclusion solely on the basis of race, color or creed by an organization functioning under the protection of the State, which holds itself out to represent the needs of employees.”

(5) The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. stated in the case of Hurd versus Hodge 334 U.S. 24 1948, to wit”

“ All citizens shall have the same right in every State and Territory, as is enjoyed by white citizens thereof to inherit, purchase, ease, sell, hold and convey real and personal property.”

They have property rights.

“It is rooted in the conscience equal protection of the laws is not achieved through indiscriminate imposition of inequalities. Historical context which the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should not be forgotten.

“It is clear that the matter of primary concern was establishment of equality in the enjoyment of basic civil and political rights and the preservation of those rights from discriminatory action on the part of the State based on consideration of race or color.

(6) Justice Brown in Plessy versus Ferguson 163 U.S. 537 1896, to wit:

“ The amendment to the U.S. Constitution primarily have been intended to abolish slavery (also in the case of Butcher’s Association versus Crescent City L.S.L. & S or Slaughter House cases)

were to have been intended primarily to abolish slavery, .. that to forbade Mexican peonage, or the Chinese “coolie” trade when they amounted to slavery, “involuntary servitude” was intended to abolish the use of all forms of involuntary slavery, of whatever class or name. It was estimated to protect people of color or race onerous disabilities or burden curtailing their rights in the pursuance of life, liberty and property.”

If the Filipino-American WW-II veterans are not fully compensated and their benefits are denied, then the government that have sent them to Harm’s way in 1941-to-1945 had been made to shed blood and die under “involuntary servitude” as slaves in no other condition. The U.S.. Constitution abhor and prohibited slavery.

(7) In he case of Quiban versus the USVA 928 F 2d 1154 D. D.C. 1991 – Judge Aubrey Robinson – opined, to wit:

“ There is no rational basis for treating World war II Philippine Army veterans differently from members of the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Filipino-American veterans have submitted evidences that they were conscripted by no less than the President of the U.S. Pres. F.D. Roosevelt in 1941, inducted into the United States Armey in the Philippines (USAFFE), the single defense force that save democracy, and American interests in the Philippines. That is hard evidence recoginzed by U.S Federal Courts.

Judge Robinson further rejected the government’s argument that the political and economic plan which Congress had for the Philippines, provided a rational basis for the statute. He interpreted the government’s political and economic argument as merely involving a plan for saving money and fund no logic between such plan and the legitimate purpose of the veteran’s benefit.

Moreover, the Filipino-American WW-II veterans produced evidence that 66,000 nationals of 16 allied nations that also fought for the U.S flag in World war Ii, were all fully compensated, except Filipino-American U.S servicemen that were singled out and dispossessed.

Judge Robinson’s opinion provided for benefits that were arbitrarily removed by the 79th Congress under a “rider” in the notorious rescission Act of 1946 that took all benefits entitled to Filipino World War II veterans.

Those benefits earned in battle in Wold War II in the Philippines under the United States Army in the Far East (USAFFE) were as follows:

(1) non-service-connected pensions.

(2) medical care

(3) special-adopted housing

(4) Automobile grants

(5) home loans

(6) educational assistance

(7) burial at U.S. cemeteries

(8) vocational rehabilitation

(9) job training and placement

Such above benefits are being enjoyed by their comrades in the U.S. Army – like any member of the U.. S. Armed Forces. Congress took it away. Why he invidious discrimination?

Lastly, the U.S. government dastardly offered the Philippine Government in a colatilla (proviso) stating that “ $200 million dollars be appropriated for building up of the Philippine Army – with a concessionary provision denying all benefits to Filipino WW-II veterans, to wit: “that service in the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines should NOT be deemed to be r to have been service in the military or naval or air forces of the United States.”

This unjust offer made to the Philippine government was not accepted and was denounced by Gen. Carlos P. Romulo – in his speech in the House of Representatives in May 1946. (See Congressional Record, May 1942).

Such cheap stunt by the U.S. was seen by veterans as an affront to the dignity of the U.S. servicemen of color under the whiteman’s burden.

Filipino veterans have therefore invoked the Due Process Law, which secures all persons equal and impartial justice under the law. (See: D.C. Pa. 1920 267 F 861, Cooley on Constitutional imitation p-434 6th Ed 1820 and Columbia (1819) 3 W What 244 AL Ed 559)

The economic necessity as furnished reason for he passage of the Rescission Act of 1946 – will not place the law beyond the reach of Constitutional guarantees concerning obligations and contracts. (See: Brown versus Ferdon Cal (1935) 45 P 2d 218)

In her disgust, Senator Barbara Boxer.said, “Pay these veterans and end the injustice and discrimination.”

As this treatise is written ,Congress have remained adamant to share their hoarded pork to pay Uncle Sam’s debt to veterans. There simply is no will to appropiate dollars that will diminish their hold on the taxpayer’s wealth which they squirrel away in junkets and political extravaganza.

Of late, a senator from Nevada, Sen. Harry Reid have accused Pres. George W. Bush of spending the taxpayer’s money to attend to political fund-raisers around the country.

Reid requested an accounting of all travel costs associated with political travel of Bush and members of his administration.

“Spending taxpayer’s money and on political campaigning and fund-raising is the type of frivolous spending I thought Pres. Bush vowed to curb.” said Reid.

“During a time of war and deepening recession, are these appropiate expenditures to the American taxpayers.”

On the other side of the coin, what abut the reckless spending of congressmen and senators that use taxpayer’s dollars? From the Speaker of the House down the line and the President of the Senate – are also guilty of the same sin, if not a crime. They deny GAO to audit their books.

Both political parties have been doing the same to the disgust of the voters they have deceived. Upheaval is near. And citizens are already quietly up and arms. The situation has been a seething volcano ready to explode

If only they pause for a second and ask themselves – should I pay these aging and sickly veterans who fought the war which we approved – or let them all die so there would be no more claimants for their denied benefits? And we could have all the fat from the pork – some solons said.

The answer to this question would be quite revealing. Every sin committed up in the Hill is the end result of legislative partisan collaboration. Of all the evil spirits – the most dangerous is the insincerity of purpose, and racism.

Now, we have witnessed the fall of a senate leader whose indiscretion created his own downfall. His disguised race card played in an unwitting or witting comment resulted to his Waterloo All sins – are the true brothers of deception.

Powerful men up in the Hill, which we, (the taxpayers) have endowed them borrowed power as public servants, have become self-adorned master that are vile specimens of human nature.

They have sadly chosen to love darkness – rather than the light because their deeds were corrupt. The nation backslides toward bottomless pit of Hades because of their double pleasure to oppress fellowmen.

It was aid that democracy has given conscience absolute liberty. However, that liberty has been abused. Freedom and liberty indeed has also absolute responsibility. And the health of our democracy is measured by the quality of the functions of those whom we endow trust in public service. Albeit, liken to the devil, they are capable of citing the Bible in psychedelic colors for their personal purposes.

God had made us of just one blood and nations of righteous men. And there are no rights of any race superior to the God-given right of the human common stock There is no superior race before Him. We are all destined equally to secure and enjoy freedom without distinction, color, creed or origin.

John Quincy Adams said, “America in the assembly of nations, has uniformly spoken the language of equal liberty, equal justice and equal rights.”

Edward Bellamy asserts, “Until economic equality shall give a basis to political equality – the latter is but a sham.”

To reform America – it is the inherent right of its citizens to first reform the government, (especially Congress which has been denegated as “a parliament of whores”- which is their right to criticize. But citizens must exercise to resist the un-constitutional law without overturning the government – peacefully. ( D. Webster)

It must start from freedom of conscience. God save America from retribution. frankquesada_1@juno.com


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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