On Crass vs Class: Duterte is the Diogenes of world politics

On Crass vs Class: Duterte is the Diogenes of world politics

- in Opinion
Sass SezSass Sez

If I focused on Duterte’s rhetoric, I woud have not supported him. Roxas was the master rhetorician of the last election. Pure class. But when I looked beyond his rhetoric, my views changed. Whether it’s for better or for worse, I will let history be the judge. I’m not afraid of being pilloried for what I believe.

Ma’am Inday’s article is admirable for its eloquence. “Crass meets class” is a moving piece, a beatification of Obama.

This is one of the cardinal rules I’ve learned from being a part of a social justice movement and from my academic training in international development: “Nothing about us, without us.” For example, you cannot talk about the plight of the poor without the poor themselves talking about their plight. You cannot talk about how it’s to live with shabu addicts and pushers in someone’s house or in someone’s community without actually listening and letting these people speak for themselves. Do the poor feel the same compassion that the elite of all stripes (civil society, rich, academe) have showered to the shabu addicts and pushers living in their communities? De Lima’s senate hearing is a horrendous representation of this discrepancy of voices: Where are the people who lived in a community infested with shabu? Yet what can you expect from these people? They have taken it upon themselves to speak for other people.

Ma’am Inday hailed Obama’s rhetoric on the injustice of police brutality towards black people and other persons of colour in the United States, as if Obama’s rhetoric is what matters the most. Her piece is disturbingly silent on what black people think about it.

Is Ma’am Inday speaking FOR black people? If one would let black activists working on the ground in the United States speak, what would they say about Obama on the issue of police brutality directed at people who share their skin color? Let’s hear some of them:

Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter

Obama says Black Lives Matter. But he doesn’t ensure they do” – The Guardian, 16th of July 2016:

We witnessed members of our movement rustle with anxiousness when he minimized our experiences. He exclaimed that Black Lives Matter, but didn’t follow up with substantive ways to ensure they do. It was disturbing to watch. Some of us left in tears.

We are disappointed and frustrated that the hour-long town hall didn’t offer an opportunity for significant engagement – or the chance to talk about solutions. Instead, we were silenced. ABC used the faces of the black community to exhibit a watered-down message of hope and reconciliation. And Obama collaborated.

Steven Thrasher, a Black American writer,

Obama condemns Baton Rouge, but what about the victims of police violence?” – The Guardian, 18 of July 2016:

Certainly nothing has changed with how president Barack Obama has approached police violence. While I waited in the passport control line, I found it jarring that Obama was on one TV greeting visitors to the US with a recorded welcome message; at the same time, he was on a CNN monitor just a few feet away, scaring the hell out of visitors as he addressed the latest American mass shooting and declared: “Attacks on police are an attack on all of us and the rule of law that makes society possible.”

What made me especially sad was that Obama won’t also say that attacks by the police on black people are also “an attack on all of us and on the rule of law that makes society possible”. He certainly doesn’t seem to have changed much on this over the course of his presidency. I was also out of the country during the “beer summit” of 2009, when Obama had Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and the white cop who’d arrested him outside Gates’ own home to the White House for drinks. At the time I thought this PR stunt was cheapening the serious issue of racial profiling by police.

Cornel West, a Black American philosopher, academic, social activist, author, public intellectual, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America

Obama has failed victims of racism and police brutality” – The Guardian, 14 July 2016

Obama has power right now to enact the recommendations made after Ferguson. Better training, independent civilian oversight boards, body cameras. But he has not used executive orders to push any of these changes through.


Margaret Kimberley, senior editor and columnist with the Black Agenda Report

Barack Obama responsible for police violence: Columnist” – PressTV, 18 July 2016

Press TV: Obama has told the American people ‘to not allow incidents like this to wedge divisions between one another’, but it seems too little too late one would say, the US is very polarized by race, religion, and between communities as ever before. What will it take to try to bring the people together at this point?

Kimberley: Well, the president is just speaking foolishness. People will be united if he does this job as a chief law enforcement officer of the country and starts to prosecute these killer cops. People want justice. There is protest. This is the second shooting of police in little more than a week and that is because of anger.


Mychal Denzel Smith, a contributing writer at The Nation and the author or “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching

In his latest letter to law enforcement, the president glossed over the realities of police brutality.” – “How President Obama failed Black Lives Matter”, The Washington Post, 21 July 2016

So does Ma’am Inday still think Obama has any practical value to tell Duterte on how to stop police brutality? Obama couldn’t even do it in his own backyard. And he had EIGHT fucking years to do it, with resources that could dwarf Pax Romana. As far as I know, Obama hasn’t given his police force a sermon. Duterte did.

I want to mention the American mess called Libya and the civilian casualties of Obama’s drone war. But Ma’am Inday already considered this irrelevant in her discussion of Obama’s “class.”

Rhetoric often functions like a fig leaf hiding genitalia from plain sight. Duterte is that scandalous vagina, that penis that makes the religious blush. While we speak, he raises his middle finger. We are Plato, presentable, someone you’d like to invite to dinner and present to mama, perfumed, smells like fresh, decent Lysoled linen. Duterte is Diogenes, who masturbates in public, spits, acts like a dog, mocks Plato, smells like patis. Obama and Roxas are Plato.

Duterte is Diogenes who mocked Plato’s platitudes, who once told Alexander the Great to “stand out of my sunlight.” Diogenes was known to have walked in the marketplace with a lamp during daylight. When people asked him why, he told them, “I’m looking for an honest man.”

Diogenes was mocked for his crassness. But it was exactly his crassness that exposed the hypocrisy of people who hide behind the thick veil of their class.

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