Saturday, August 01, 2009

Another Scott Natural™

(re: NPR sponsor Scott Naturals™ and flushable wipes)

Scott Simon really oozed about Corazon Aquino this morning:
  • "Cory Aquino often told interviewers that those years in exile were her happiest. When your husband is thrown into jail for what he believes, in a country ruled by a dictator's words and whims, it is hard to trust that your children can be safe."
  • "'I am just one of the thousands and millions of victims of the Marcos dictatorship,' she told crowds."
  • "She displeased both leftists who wanted more radical land reform, and rightists who didn't want to talk to leftist radicals."
  • "Corazon Aquino didn't have the life she expected—and because of it, gave hopes to others that they could make better lives, too."
Notable is Simon's remark that "she displeased both leftists...and rightists." At NPR that is the mark of excellence in leaders and journalism: not courage, not facts, not truth, not a consistent set of moral or legal standards - but a perverse insistence that criticism from left and right validates any policy or action.

Sadly, Simon's tribute reduces Aquino to a one-dimensional heroic caricature, but her legacy was far more complex. Aquino clearly helped move the Philippines away from dictatorship - but she also tolerated gross human rights abuses and was close to many military leaders who helped overthrow Marcos - but were steeped in traditions of torture and repression.

The most glaring problem with Simon's praise is the complete lack of historical context (a typical feature of NPR reports). Simon fails to mention that the Marcos dictatorship and its "thousands and millions of victims" would not have been possible without staunch US support over many years.

Simon's omissions are quite relevant to current events both in the Philippines and here in the US. In the Philippines a surge in human rights abuses (and US involvement) has occurred since 2001 and continues up to the present under the Arroyo regime (including a US citizen who reported being recently tortured). As the Alfred McCoy link above and his book, A Question of Torture, indicate - there are obvious links between the CIA-assisted Marcos torture regime and the current US torture regime of slappings and beatings, "stress positions," sexual humiliation, waterboarding, sensory deprivation, etc. Perhaps most chilling are McCoy's conclusions that the intoxicating power of the torturers can lead them to attack the very governments they supposedly serve. As McCoy notes, the ability of the torture architects and practitioners to secure amnesty in the Philippines has allowed many of them to stay in power - and for their practices to resurface.


gope said...

From the article, Philippines: The Killing Fields of Asia MTW recommends:

In early 2003 then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz called the Philippines the "second front in the War on Terror." Since then tens of thousands of Muslim villagers have been forcibly displaced and hundreds have been tortured, killed, or disappeared.

On today's Uprising (KPFK) you can hear Melissa Rojas, a US citizen who was abducted and tortured by the Philippine military last May for 6 days, accused of being a member of a communist party, describe her ordeal.

larry, dfh said...

Many years ago, one of my father's best friends, who had been in the Philippines in WW II, and who in retirement worked on projects bringing industries to poor countries, told me that without land reform, nothing would change in the Philippines. Aquino, being a wealthy landowner, was thus part of the problem. To me she was the 'yes we can' president of her times: big on rhetoric, big on status quo.

byg!pynk!fuzzi!bunni! said...

Okay, so I bit to click the link for Scott-o's twit -oops I mean "tweet" is the acceptable term - feed (file with the "Daddy, why do they pronounce it 'Grennich?'" syndrome).

Nearly thought it was someone parodizing the ol' boy at first.

And this rumored passing-of-the-torch to that Razzy Guy yet another fine example of the Law of Diminishing Returns.

RepubLiecan said...

Guy Raz replacing lil' Scotty the Simonizer? This must be an object lesson for the adage, "be careful what you wish for". It could be worse, they might have chosen Juan Williams.

Anonymous said...

I was praying it would be Kookie Roberts. Raz did promise that he won't change a thing.