Trump and Duterte: A Meeting of Murderous Minds and a Warning of What's to Come
December 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 3, Donald Trump had a warm phone conversation with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. The Philippines is a deeply impoverished Asian country that was long an outright colony of the U.S. and is still thoroughly dominated and viciously exploited by America. And Duterte is a fascist bully who revels in intimidation and violence.
Duterte makes sick “jokes” like saying he wished he’d had the chance to rape a nun before she was gang raped and murdered. He ran for office as a “law-and-order/tough-on-crime” candidate who was not going to let things like rule of law, due process or civil rights get in the way of cracking down on “criminals,” and especially on “drug dealers.”
After taking office on June 30, Duterte unleashed a bloody reign of terror throughout the Philippines, and especially in the vast city slums, in the name of a “war on drugs.” Squads of cops rove through the streets, kicking down doors. They execute people on the spot, often in front of their children—and kids as young as five years old have been killed during the raids. The police then drag their victims’ bodies into the street, hanging signs on their necks saying “drug dealer.” Frequently the cops go after people who had signed up with the government to request drug treatment or had gone to the authorities and “confessed,” with the promise that this was the only way to avoid being murdered.
In just over five months, cops have officially killed 2,000 people in this terror campaign. And Duterte says, “You can expect 20,000 or 30,000 more.” That’s not all—Duterte has also unleashed vigilantes to carry out executions. They ride on motorcycles, gunning down “suspects” with complete impunity and killing thousands more.
Funeral homes are stacking bodies like firewood because the desperately poor families cannot afford to pay for the burial of their loved ones.
And over 35,000 have been arrested, filling prisons to the bursting point. Inmates sleep on the floor, side by side, head to toe, like Africans loaded into the hulls of ships during the slave trade.
According to Duterte, when he and Trump spoke on December 3, “He [Trump] was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem. He understood the way we are handling it and he said there is nothing wrong with protecting your country. It was very encouraging…” The Philippine government said that Trump praised Duterte’s violent crackdown as “the right way.” Trump has not released the contents of the conversation, but he and his staff have not denied what Duterte and the Philippines government have said about the talk.
We don’t have to take Duterte’s word for it. Everyone remembers that when Trump launched his presidential campaign, he straight up lied that most undocumented Mexican immigrants are “rapists” and “criminals.” And throughout his campaign, he has used the technique of seizing on a tiny number of violent offenses allegedly committed by undocumented people to brand all immigrants as “violent criminals” and whip up hatred against them.
During a recent sit-down with TIME magazine reporters, Trump at one point brought out a tabloid paper article with a screaming headline about “extremely violent” gangs in Long Island, New York, allegedly made up of undocumented people from Central America. Repeating his anti-immigrant rants, Trump said, “They’re killing and raping everybody out there. They’re illegal. And they’re finished.” A TIME reporter mentioned that what Trump said echoes the rhetoric of Duterte, “who has overseen the extrajudicial killing of thousands of alleged drug dealers and users in recent months.” Trump, according to TIME, offered “no objection to the comparison” (our emphasis).
In fact, Trump told the TIME reporters, “Well, hey, look, this is bad stuff. They slice them up, they carve their initials in the girl’s forehead, OK. What are we supposed to do? Be nice about it?” Trump’s message was unmistakable: he not only supports Duterte’s words, he’s indicating that Duterte’s practice of killing “drug-dealers” without trials should be a model for dealing with the supposed “criminal” immigrants in the U.S.
Trump is not just cozying up to a vicious mass murderer. He is telling us what his own orientation and approach will be once he holds power—towards immigrants in particular, but this will run through everything that his fascist regime does.
Trump is not joking. To refuse to take this seriously, and fail to act with tremendous courage and determination to STOP this before it is consolidated and becomes the “new reality,” is a terrible mistake which will have extremely grave consequences for humanity.
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