Saturday, October 01, 2016

We are all in some sense becoming, by necessity, desensitized to Duterte's language


reuters |  Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte appeared to liken himself to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on Friday and said he would "be happy" to exterminate 3 million drug users and peddlers in the country.

Although the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama played down the remark, Duterte's comments triggered shock and anger among Jewish groups in the United States, which could create pressure on the U.S. government to take a tougher line with the Philippines leader.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a news conference following a meeting Southeast Asian defense chiefs in Hawaii that he personally found Duterte's comments "deeply troubling", though the matter wasn't discussed at the meeting.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner had earlier described Duterte's remarks, made in a rambling speech in Davao City, as "a significant departure" from America's partnership with the Philippines "and we find them troubling."

Duterte told reporters that he had been "portrayed to be a cousin of Hitler" by critics.
Noting that Hitler had murdered millions of Jews, Duterte said, "There are 3 million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I'd be happy to slaughter them.

"If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have ...," he said, pausing and pointing to himself.
 

On Friday, reacting to critical comments on his war on drugs by U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Benjamin Cardin, Duterte said: "Do not pretend to be the moral conscience of the world. Do not be the policeman because you do not have the eligibility to do that in my country."

Jewish groups quickly condemned Duterte's Hitler comments.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Digital Terrorism and Hate project, called them "outrageous".

"Duterte owes the victims (of the Holocaust) an apology for his disgusting rhetoric," Cooper said.
The Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish group based in the United States, said Duterte's comments were "shocking for their tone-deafness".

"The comparison of drug users and dealers to Holocaust victims is inappropriate and deeply offensive," said Todd Gutnick, the group's director of communications. "It is baffling why any leader would want to model himself after such a monster."

Duterte has said there will be no annual war games between the Philippines and the United States until the end of his six-year term, and his hostility may make Washington's strategy of rebalancing its military focus toward Asia in the face of an increasingly assertive China more difficult to achieve.