I read today that Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte has had a message from God:
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to stop swearing, saying God spoke to him on a flight from Japan on Thursday, warning him the plane would crash if he kept using bad language.
This is the same Duterte who is directly or indirectly responsible for the murder of more than 2,400 people in a less than three month period. Most of these people were suspected drug dealers or users which, according to the quasi-facist Duterte and his supporters, makes it okay for police and death squads to condemn and execute them at will.
And then Duterte has the chutzpah to tell us that God is disturbed by his bad language.
It’s enough to put one off God.
But religion isn’t the real issue. Nor does the matter at hand have anything to do with conditions that are unique to the Philppines or any other “foreign” or “under-developed” country. It’s a question of perspective and its relation to our moral values, a question we in the United States have been confronted with every day during the current election.
Today, for instance, the paper version of my local paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ran a headline in one-inch caps reading “FBI Reviews New Emails.” The text ran down the left side of the front page and, on the other half, a half-lit profile of Hillary Clinton emerged from the dark background. Pretty sensational news, right?
Well no — although almost anyone seeing that headline layout will go away thinking that these emails constitute a momentous, game-changing discovery.
But as most of those who’ve paid attention know, once again this is much ado about nothing. The “new” emails were as Political Animal’s Nancy Letourneau notes, not from Hillary Clinton, not from her private server, not withheld from the FBI by Clinton, and are likely duplicates of emails already examined by the FBI — which is not, as many in the (perhaps intentionally) credulous media have asserted, “reopening” their investigation of Clinton.
Nevertheless, this latest irrelevant diversion will hold center stage for the next few days and possibly influence the direction of the election. The big orange pseudo-Mussolini is already crowing about how this news vindicates his absurd “Hillary Clinton for prison” war cry. Although it is unlikely to cost Clinton the presidency (knock on wood), it could depress her margin of victory, which would clear the path for a resurgent Trump or an über–nationalist Trump clone in 2018. Nor would it help with down-ballot races. At the very least, it may provide more ammunition for the GOP dead-enders who will inevitably seek to delegitimize a Clinton victory.
Meanwhile, the complex of forces unleashed in the Middle East by Bush’s invasion of Iraq are laying waste to the region, immigrants are flooding into the Western World — an influx that will only grow as the ravages of climate change increase. The warming of our world, if not mitigated in a timely fashion, will create environmental and economic wastelands. Economic and social inequality threaten the stability of the West while we are held in thrall by the ascendancy of ‘free market” advocates and oligarchs who seek to weaken the power of government to effect necessary long-term changes.
There are hard days ahead no matter who wins the election and none of it has anything to do with emails. And yet the media wants to persuade us that the election of our leaders should hinge on a just such unfounded suggestions of scandal.
It’s all a matter of moral perspective. Something that both Duterte’s God and our trivial entertainment and celebrity-sodden media culture seem to lack.
*Cross posted to Daily Kos.