Threatening to kill three million people is one thing, but comparing yourself to Hitler is really pushing it.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (pronounced “Doo-TAIR-tay”) learned this the hard way last week.
On Friday while giving a speech in his hometown of Davao City, the strongman variously known as “The Punisher,” “Duterte Harry,” and “The Donald Trump of the Philippines” renewed his oft-repeated vow to murder his nation’s drug addicts:
Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there is three million, what is it, three million drug addicts [in the Philippines]….I’d be happy to slaughter them. At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have [me]. You know my victims, I would like [them] to be all criminals, to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.
The reaction was swift and unflinching: How dare he compare himself to Hitler? And how dare he say Hitler only killed three million? Wait, what—he said something about murdering three million living human beings? Who cares? What about the Hitler thing?
On Saturday, presidential spokesman Ernest Abella issued a formal apology along with the requisite recount of Holocaust victims:
We do not wish to diminish the profound loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust—that deep midnight of their story as a people….The president’s reference to the slaughter was an oblique deflection of the way he has been pictured as a mass murderer, a Hitler, a label he rejects…Duterte was referencing to his “willingness to kill” three million criminal drug dealers—to save the future of the next generation and the country.
On Saturday during a speech in the city of Bacolod, Duterte likewise apologized “profoundly and deeply” to global Jewry for carelessly dragging them into his very real threat to murder three million Filipinos, saying that he never intended “to derogate the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Germans.”
But what about the threat to slaughter three million of his own countrymen? Sorry, no apology necessary—he remains completely serious about it.
Duterte—who won the Philippine presidential election in May on a “kill ‘em all” anti-crime platform—is known and beloved by his nation’s hundred million or so squirming peasants for his unremittingly brash public statements that make Donald Trump appear positively milquetoast by comparison.
Across the grand spectrum of what’s considered offensive these days, calling someone “Miss Piggy” simply doesn’t compare to telling a campaign audience that you wish you’d had a chance to take a crack at the murdered victim of a gang rape before she died:
They raped all of the women. There was this Australian lay minister, when they took them out I saw her face and I thought, Son of a bitch. What a pity, they raped her, they all lined up. I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful. I thought the mayor should have been first.
Duterte initially shrugged off the horrified gasps which followed that comment with a simple “this is how men talk.” Then he retreated ever so slightly, calling himself “a man of many flaws and contradictions” whose “mouth can get the better of me.”
During a rally in April, Duterte bragged to the audience that while in law school, he shot a fellow student who’d teased him about his racial origins. The audience laughed and applauded. (Duterte later told a reporter that the student survived the shooting.)
Last September the hard-knuckled, psychotically tough-on-crime long-time Mayor of Davao City made headlines for stomping into a local bar and forcing a tourist to eat a cigarette after the tourist refused to comply with a local anti-smoking ordinance.
He has justified the murder of any journalist who acts like “a son of a bitch.”
This is a man who, during a publicly televised speech two weeks ago, gave the middle finger to the European Union and said, “Fuck you.” He has publicly stated that he “don’t give a shit” about the United Nations.
Duterte has referred to both UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry as “fools.” He has slandered Barack Obama as “the son of a whore.” He said exactly the same thing about Pope Francis. He called US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg the son of a whore, too, tossing in a Filipino slang term that roughly translates to “faggot.”
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