Manufactured malice

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ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

THEY called Mocha the queen of fake news, even as Inquirer, ABS-CBN and Rappler propagated the lie that the high index of impunity for 2017 is President Duterte’s fault even if it was computed using data collected during the term of his predecessor.

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Theirs is what appears to be manufactured malice, one that subsists on hypocrisy, double standards and holier-than-thou attitudes.

It is seen in one who fights for human rights and volunteers his time for rehabilitating drug dependents, but who has a history of patronizing the sexual services of trafficked young women. Or one who lectures on the abuses of martial law, but keeps on posting abusive language against Duterte and Marcos supporters.

It is just too easy to live up to the moral nature of a human being. After all, we are all moral agents capable of knowing the good from the bad, and discerning the right from the wrong. Unfortunately, malice can get the better of us and turn us into hypocrites unable to practice what we preach.

Many would like to fight for human rights, yet are incapable of respecting the fundamental right of persons to have an independent mind and an autonomous voice.

There are people who are at the forefront of human rights advocacy. They organize and animate civil society actors towards their preferred narratives. They conduct seminars and civic formation activities to inculcate among their publics the fundamental premises of their untiring advocacies against the so-called extra-judicial killings, and against President Duterte.

They speak of the right to life, and stand up against tyranny. They call attention to the fears of a return to the dark days of a dictatorship that they now associate with a demonized surname. They cry at what they perceive as the silencing of voices of resistance like that of Leila de Lima, or of Chief Justice Meilou Sereno, or the absence of due process with regard to the poor drug suspects who they believe are summarily executed by a state that has gone murderous.

Yet, these are the very same things that they inflict on people who do not share their political views.

They become tyrannical, even as they condemn tyranny. They want to respect rights, but they blatantly violate the rights of people to their honor and their name. These are their fields of expertise. They malign and shame Duterte supporters as enablers of state-sponsored execution, thereby denying us the due process that they so love to foist in front of our faces when they speak of the drug peddlers who have fallen in cold pavements, and who they give the privilege of place in the dark night of their anger.

To them, a drug peddler, one who has already been identified to have plied his trade as he pushed his clients into the abyss of substance abuse and addiction, is entitled to the dignity of a trial. However, anyone who appears to even remotely support the President, even if critically, is forever judged as guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

In their minds, it is always white or black, like a Manichean opposition between good and evil.

They even likened Duterte supporters to psychopaths just because they think that the President is deranged. They fail to see the pathological hatred that they harbor towards him.

And they reserve the cruelest label for those who even just entertain the thought of revisiting the Marcos era, with his Martial Law, and extract from it a new reading using a more objective lens of analysis. They insist on denying such a complex period a due process of being sufficiently heard using rubrics of fair historiography that goes beyond partisan myth-making where professors become purveyors of propaganda.

And they call this as correct history worthy of being enshrined in our textbooks.

Their hypocrisy is simply so blatant that their only justification is that they can get away with it because they thought they had a monopoly over the act of writing our stories as a people.

And they bear fruit in millennials and younger generations whose capacity to critically analyze has been reduced to simply an ability to be critical of anything Marcosian, and not to have the ability to pursue independent inquiries. In their desire to wipe out any vestige of this demonized period, they sequestered the process of writing history.

And yet, they have the temerity to indict people like Van Ybiernas and myself who they accuse as malicious revisionists just because we endeavor to present to the youth a much more balanced approach to the understanding of our past.

Indeed, they embody a manufactured malice. Their hatred rests on a political economy of psychic rewards that affirm their bigotry and their hate. They have acquired an elitist sense of moral superiority that dismisses any Duterte or Marcos supporter as a diminished other not worthy of respect.

To them, we are all just crazy, misled, uneducated, ignorant fools not worthy of the right they gallantly fight for the victims of the war on drugs, and not worthy of the due process, not to be judged on the basis of partisan politics the way they see how Leila was victimized.

Oligarchic elites with political and economic agenda sustain and are sustained by their intellectual labor, as former activists and detainees, some of whom actively took up arms against the state yet call themselves helpless victims, who now populate the academe and the world of art. They become professors, writers and artists who provide the intellectual capital to a symbolic political economy of hate and simplistic dualisms.

Theirs is an unholy alliance that feeds into the reproduction of a discursive anomaly where truth becomes a casualty, and history becomes their victim. Human rights ends up edified as one that is pursued as an entitlement for criminals, but not for their victims.

Fortunately, we can take comfort in the fact that manufactured malice is like a bad weed – nasty, but shallow-rooted.

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