The Volatilian™ View

Banned over fist?

Duterte fist bump

Just when you think the childish whining of the pampered Liberal elite can’t sink any lower, they managed yet again to surprise us. Right now, much of the world is on the edge of its seat wondering what the unpredictable leader of a nuclear-weaponed rogue state is going to do next – this in a region, East Asia, that’s largely nuclear unweaponised.

The North Korean threat – though far removed from the consciousness of the Liberal-loving west coast of America – is actually a reality. Pity the citizens from the Liberal-love-in Californian cities of Berkeley or San Francisco or Oakland couldn’t switch places with the residents of Seoul in South Korea or Tokyo, Japan, for a few months. They might get a better idea of what it’s like to actually live in a nuclear-hazard zone. If they think they need to attend psycho-therapy classes now, wait till they get there.

Or let them try living among the destitute in a Manila slum – somewhere like Payatas, or San Andre. Not too many places to get their skinny lattes there; not too many places to get anything – including fresh, clean running water.

Hopelessly ignorant of life outside their bubble, that’s never prevented them from passing judgement on anything beyond their comfort zone. They know virtually nothing about the threadbare tapestry of existence that passes for life in a squalid Philippine barangay; they have no conception how those there survive. While in Berkeley they may be traumatised at the thought of lead petrol emissions, in Patayas all they want is something to eat – preferably each day. Though that for many remains a dream.

And yet, the well-fed Liberal crowd never misses an opportunity to criticise the one man whom the residents of Patayas – and other places like it – revere as their saviour. That man is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte – to the common Filipino, their hope; to the pampered Liberal elite, a vulgar despot. The point is they detest him; so they want everyone else to detest him also.

What’s wrong with Filipinos, they must ask themselves, that they could elect a president like Duterte? The problem is, they’re looking at it from the wrong angle; try this perspective – it was the deplorable state of society that meant they couldn’t elect anyone else.

We understand why they feel and react like that; he’s the complete antithesis of everything they believe in and hold dear. And so, as we noted earlier, they’ll deride him at every end and turn. After all, Liberals believe it’s their birthright to pronounce what’s right and what’s acceptable and the rest of the world should fall into step. The problem for them is that Duterte hasn’t – and won’t.

A more recent concern of theirs is Duterte’s signature clenched-fist gesture; something which Filipinos – at least the overwhelming majority of them – appreciate and often emulate. These people, of course, as far as the Liberal elite are concerned evidently ‘know no better’. Lesser mortals in everything from intellect to social standing – apparently – they’re misguided; ignorant and to be humoured at best.

Such is how they dismiss the democratic majority in the Philippines – but then there’s nothing democratic about the Liberal Left and particularly the US strain of that virus which, mockingly, parades itself largely as the Democratic Party.

Now, in a new low for pettiness, the Liberal swarm have likened Duterte’s signature clenched fist to the Nazi salute – the straight-arm gesture used to pay deference to German dictator, Adolph Hitler, during the Third Reich from 1933 to 1945. Really? Where were their voices when the Black Power movement raised their gloved fist? Was that wrong too? Did they also know no better? Were they fascists too – a slur the Libs love to hurl at Duterte or anyone else they find disagreeable; not to their liking?

Maybe, like Duterte’s supporters, they also wanted something to unify them – a simple gesture that said “we stand together”, “we will prevail”; a gesture that would echo the title of a popular song of the American Civil-Rights Movement at the time, “We Shall Not Be Moved”.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) assistant Asian director, Phelim Kine, who seems to be making denigrating Duterte his life’s work, said this: “Foreign leaders should recognise that the fist… symbolises a purposeful attack by Duterte on rule of law that has inflicted a human-rights calamity on thousands of Filipinos”.

He was instructing heads of states to refrain from joining Duterte in the hand sign. He was suggesting they should be banned from using it. US President Donald Trump whose signature gesture is a ‘thumbs-up’ – no doubt to the Liberal mind another fascist signal or some dark Masonic code – had been directly warned not to engage in a Duterte clenched fist during any encounter with the Philippine president while attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit and other functions over the past couple of days.

But hang on; it “symbolises a purposeful attack by Duterte on rule of law”? Only in some bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping critique by a virtual Liberal Party loyalist apparatchik whose made it his business to interfere in the internal affairs of the Philippines any time he feels the urge. Ironically, for the Philippine nation at large, it symbolises the reverse – for them it symbolises the purposeful defence of rule of law by Duterte. That’s how wide of the mark Kine’s understanding is.

And a “human-rights calamity”? That’s precisely what Duterte’s been addressing. Philippine society is out of control, thanks to the repeated negligence of previous administrations. When Duterte came into office he inherited a huge crime wave, a booming illegal-drugs sector with all the attendant violence and deprivation; a communist insurgency and an Islamist terror threat that was persistently downplayed for the entire term of the previous administration and much of the one before that.

And that’s on top of all the woeful reneging of responsibility by his immediate predecessors. Across much of the rural economy the poverty levels climbed and only slacked off slightly when the poor migrated to the large cities, like the capital Manila, changing their demographic status from rural poor to urban poor. We don’t remember much of an outcry from the well-heeled Liberals when all that was going on – when in parts of some cities beggars outnumbered shoppers on the streets.

Neither do we recall hearing too much from the human-rights groups between 2010 and early 2016 – the term of the Liberal Party admin of president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino. We don’t recall, for example, too many headlines condemning rape-around-the-clock – one every 55 minutes throughout 2015.

Meanwhile – to come down to Kine’s intellectual level of reasoning – what about the ‘fist-bump’? Is this common greeting also an incitement to violence as the Liberals claim Duterte’s gesture is? This is used across all cultures – from the boardroom to the basketball court. Heavens! It’s even used in cricket. In lawn-bowls too; surely pensioners on the crown-greens aren’t going to be censured for clenching their fists.

More to the point, the man whom the Liberals hold up as the reverse of everything Duterte – former US president, Barack Obama – gave his own stamp of approval to this gesture. In 2008, after learning he’d won the nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate after bumping out his opponent, Hilary Clinton, he publicly bumped fists with his wife, Michelle.

In fact it went viral and – sure enough – it was politicised in exactly the same way that Kine has politicised Duterte’s salute. It was described by a Fox News anchor – who thankfully lost her job for the remark – as a “terrorist fist jab”. Not much difference when you think about it to what Kine alleges of the Duterte gesture.

There appears to be no end to this banal sniping. Kine seems to be obsessed with it; he wallows in it. Furthermore, it’s given him celebrity status. Kine is HRW’s assistant Asian director; not even its deputy director – that’s Phil Robertson – while the Asian division’s executive director is a Brad Adams; but we doubt if anyone in the Philippines has ever heard of either of them.

HRW also has a Japan director; her name is Kanai Doi. But when Duterte set off for Tokyo on 29 October, the person with advice for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, wasn’t her, it was Kine. Here’s what he said: “Abe should recognise that the human-rights calamity that Duterte has inflicted on the Philippines should be met with a concerted response from partners of the Philippines, including Japan, who value universal human rights and rule of law”.

During an earlier trip to Tokyo – one year ago – Abe and Duterte posed good-naturedly for the cameras with fists clenched. Everyone who saw that in Japan took it for what it was – the leaders of two nations enjoying a moment of levity amid an intense rack of meetings, including gatherings of the Japan-Philippines Parliamentarians Friendship League and the Philippine Economic Forum, attended by 1,000 businessmen.

Only the warped Liberal Left would suggest that the two men were making a fascist salute; or that Abe – not exactly a favourite of the Liberals either – was condoning Duterte’s alleged brutality back home.

The frustrating thing for Kine and his ilk, however, is that four of the world’s major leaders – they happen to be Chinese President, Xi Jingping; Russian Federation President, Vladimir Putin; Trump and Abe – all respect Duterte and wish him well in both his domestic and foreign policy pursuits. And nowhere was that more evident than at the meeting of Trump and Duterte at Asean yesterday. They got on famously and look firmly set as partners going forward.

What really worries the Kines of this world is that these men will rollback the Liberal mantle that’s been allowed to spread across the world for more than a generation, stifling thought and freedom of expression and grabbing power in the process to ensure the elite continue to enjoy an elitist lifestyle at the expense of the rest.

These, then, are the true fascists. Autocrats to the core, they may not have a hand sign, but they know how to crush opposition beneath their heel. And that’s their goal here. The Liberal Left has deployed its stormtroopers to destroy Duterte – and the propaganda front where Kine has assumed a commander role figures large in that strategy.

But if you want to talk about militarism-by-symbol, look no further than the yellow livery of the international Liberal movement. And in the Philippines, look no further than where the Liberal Yellow came from. These are the battle colours of the Yellow Army – a private militia of the politically powerful Cojuangco-Aquino clan; the family of former presidents Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino and her son, “Noynoy”.

It was formed on their sprawling 6,453-hectarte sugar estate at Tarlac, a province in the north region of Luzon. In 1986, the time of the People Power Revolution – also known as the Yellow Revolution due to the sea of the Aquino trademark yellow ribbons worn at mass demonstrations in Manila calling for the ouster of then-president, Ferdinand E. Marcos – Hacienda Luisita was the largest centre of power after the presidential seat of Malacañang.

This was more than any clenched-fist gesture, the Yellow Army was well trained and well armed and sworn to loyalty of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. Furthermore, Liberal-yellow continues to be used as the battle colours of a political party and movement that are determined to employ any means to seize back power.

The party failed overwhelmingly at the ballot box in May 2016 and based on its actual support in the country – as opposed to the noise it makes and the headlines its tame media put out – it looks destined for defeat at the next election in 2022. And part of what will ensure that is that the party’s likely candidate will be their Yellow Queen, Vice President Leni Robredo, who if she stood for office right now, would find it difficult to be elected as dog catcher.

And the iconic clenched fist that’s galvanised all opposition to the yellow movement won’t be disappearing at the end of Duterte’s term – it’ll remain a symbol of defiance to autocratic rule and a badge of hope for a people that up until Duterte had thirsted for a government that would truly represent them. One that finally would fold bag the rug and deal with all the problems that had been swept there.

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