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“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.”

― Archibald MacLeish

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Why does the world view despots like Duterte as jokes?

We view dictators, like Rodrigo Duterte, with comedy to pacify our ignorance of their crimes
From The Independent (UK)
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines uses crude and offensive language (“son of a whore”) to insult the most powerful man on God’s earth; President Obama is, rightly, offended; an important bi-lateral meeting between close allies is cancelled. The whole world has a laugh.
Understandable, I suppose. But the damage done by Duterte to his own nation and people is less well appreciated. I admit he won an election to gain power, but I do wonder how free and democratic the Republic of the Philippines is these days, and for how long. This is a man who sanctions mass extra-judicial killings – or murders, to use plain language. In his (undeniably popular) war on the Philippines’ rampant drugs trade, he has promised medals to any member of the public who shoots a drug dealer. Since he took office in June, some 650 people have been killed by police, with as many as 900 more thought to have been slain by vigilantes. Human rights in the Philippines?

The UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, has urged the Filipino authorities “to adopt with immediate effect the necessary measures to protect all persons from targeted killings and extrajudicial executions”, adding: “Claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the Government from its international legal obligations, and do not shield State actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings.”

So not so funny, then – the execution of many hundreds, and thousands in their families bereaved, and all denied justice or due process of law. Nor is the increasing threat the Philippines faces from an ambitious China terribly humorous. That political and geopolitical damage is the real problem with Duterte the buffoon – and with our attitude to him and his like.

It prompts the question: why do we regard so many despots and dictators as jokes? Why do we remember Benito Mussolini as a posturing fat fantasist rather than the man who dropped blistering mustard gas on 100,000 Ethiopians?  

Well, in many cases it is easy to see why. It helps trivialise them, and if we can mock them we score a little victory: sadism is often accompanied by a thin skin. When Kim Jong-un learned that one of his ministers was carousing round Pyongyang during the official mourning period for his father, he ordered him to be put to death and with "no trace of him behind, down to his hair”. This unfortunate servant of the Korean people was forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round and “obliterated”. More recently, Kim suspected another official had dozed off in his presence. This time, a battery of anti-aircraft guns was deployed for another literal vaporisation. We know all this is evil and appalling, and yet we find the inventiveness of the Kim mind blackly funny, and these atrocities were reported in the western media in the manner of after-dinner anecdotes from the late Peter Ustinov or Richard Attenborough.

One of the great hit movies of the Second World War was Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator, playing a facsimile of Hitler as a comical little man, and the most popular ditty based on the notion that “Hitler has only got one ball” (“and Goebbels has got no balls at all”); and most western cartoons of Mugabe, Kim and, now, Duterte, portray them more often than not as global village idiots. And that they do seem. After all these characters , and their more distant forebears such as Robespierre, Ivan the Terrible or Genghis Khan, didn’t get where they got to without being vainglorious, pompous, foolish looking, sometimes illiterate, and always eccentric – and thus figures of fun, if you’re at a sufficiently safe distance in time or space. 
Duterte: "Catholicism would be passé in 30 yrs!"
Philippine President Dutert said Catholicism would be passé in 30 years!
"That religion will become passé in the next 30 years lalo na pag lumabas na ang abuses nila," he said.
Duterte has long been critical of the Catholic Church, whose leaders have repeatedly spoken against his bloody campaign against illegal drugs. From ABS-CBN News
From The Guardian (UK)
Rodrigo Duterte jokes to soldiers that they can rape women with impunity

‘If you had raped three, I will admit it, that’s on me’ Philippines president tells soldiers on Mindanao island where he has imposed martial law.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to reassure soldiers who might be accused of committing abuses under martial law and jokingly said that if any of them were to rape three women, he would personally claim responsibility for it.

Duterte is notorious for comments often deemed offensive and made the remark as a joke, reiterating that only he would be liable for any backlash over military rule on southern Mindanao island. He has, however, said he would not tolerate abuses.

“If you go down, I go down. But for this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible, just do your job I will take care of the rest,” Duterte said on Friday, according to a president’s office transcript.

“I’ll imprison you myself,” he said, referring to any soldiers who commit violations, then he joked: “If you had raped three, I will admit it, that’s on me.”

Duterte made the remark in a speech to soldiers on Mindanao island, where he imposed martial law on Tuesday to try to crush Islamic State-linked rebels, who have been battling the military after laying siege to a southern city.

It was not the first time Duterte has made a joke about rape. He caused outrage in the lead-up to his presidential election win last year when he recalled a 1989 prison riot in which an Australian missionary was killed, and inmates had lined up to rape her.

In what was intended as a joke, Duterte said the victim was “beautiful” and as mayor of Davao city where the riot took place, he should have been first in line. He later apologised and said he did not intend to disrespect women or rape victims.
Another Hitler?
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte appeared to liken himself to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and said he would "be happy" to exterminate 3 million drug users and peddlers in the country. 
 Noting that Hitler had murdered millions of Jews, Duterte said, 

"There are 3 million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I'd be happy to slaughter them.

"If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have ...," he said, pausing and pointing to himself.

"You know my victims. I would like (them) to be all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition." Reuters (Sept.30, 2016)
Digong says he doesn’t mind being likened to Idi Amin
From Inquirer:
President Duterte says he doesn’t mind being likened to the late Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada, whose murderous regime was blamed by human rights activists for the deaths of anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 people in his African country in the 1970s.

Mr. Duterte reiterated his intention to end the country’s problems on criminality, illegal drugs and corruption when he spoke to his classmates from San Beda College of Law.
“I don’t care … I know that … I will retire with the reputation of Idi Amin,” Mr. Duterte said in his speech. “I don’t expect you to keep faith in me or to believe in me all the time but … God is there. I have never killed an innocent human being. Never. I don’t like it.”