OPINION: Crass meets class

Inday Espina-Varona

Posted at Sep 06 2016 12:16 AM

From the Associated Press, here’s US President Barack Obama's response to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's angry screech at the US of A.
 
“President Barack Obama says he has asked his staff to assess whether it would be productive for him to meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. This, after Duterte warned Obama not to question him about extrajudicial killings in his country.”
 
“Obama was asked at a news conference in China on Monday whether he intends to meet Duterte, as planned, at a gathering in Laos this week of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Duterte said Obama should not question him about extrajudicial killings, or, as he put it, "son of a bitch, I will swear at you" when they meet in Laos.”
 
“Obama said he had heard about the comment and instructed his aides to determine whether it would still be productive to hold the face-to-face meeting.”
 
Rather classy.
 
Just ask aides to check: Is it even worth it?
 
Yeah, why force it?
 
If someone stages a tantrum even before you meet, prudence dictates, check if it's even worth talking to him.
 
Was Barack Obama supposed to quiver just because the macho Duterte cursed him and threatened him against mentioning the issue of extra-judicial killings?

Bad briefing
 
I once marched to kick out the US bases from the Philippines. I detest the fact that US soldiers who commit crimes in this country get to be treated with kids’ gloves. I could tick off one hundred and one injustices suffered by peoples across the world because of arrogant and hypocritical American foreign policy.
 
Yes, it’s nice to have a leader to tackle history and point out that the US is pretty much complicit in much of the world's mess.
 
It's not, when my (and 101 million Filipinos’) President crassly uses legitimate plaints to parry equally legitimate concern over EJKs.
 
Who's giving Duterte his briefing?
 
Nobody told him that Barack Obama has said harsh words on alleged human rights violations by US cops? The US President has spoken bluntly about police brutality and racial prejudice in his nation.
 
Duterte’s efforts to score points fail because Obama has spoken so eloquently about the injustices that happen in the US in the here and now.
 
Here’s what he said at a NATO summit about the problem of police brutality and racism in America. CNN reported:
 
“President Barack Obama said Americans should feel outraged at episodes of police brutality since they're rooted in long-simmering racial discord."

"Obama called the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile 'tragedies' and demanded that the country as a whole 'do better.'

"Confronting issues of race and violence yet again after a spate of similar incidents during his presidency, Obama delivered a fact-based argument that African-Americans are more likely to suffer at the hands of law enforcement.

"Citing statistics showing minorities are more likely to be pulled over, searched or shot at by police, Obama said it was incumbent on the country to aim for better -- including recognizing deep-seated biases that must be 'rooted out'."
 
You cannot even accuse Obama of double standards. Not on the matter of a government’s treatment of its constituents. (When it’s about America and the world, Obama, like most of his predecessors, looks out for number one.)
 
There's also the usual problem with how Duterte delivers his message.
 
You're on the world stage. You cannot fling around son-of-a-bitch every time some reporter's (legitimate) question pisses you off.
 
We cannot demand that the word interprets every curse he hurls, can we?
 
It's actually a little sad because on the night he cursed Obama, the US President defended an athlete would refused to stand for the national anthem.
 
"President Barack Obama says the NFL quarterback who is refusing to stand for the national anthem is the latest in a long line of professional athletes who have exercised their constitutional right to make a statement about social issues.”

The US President said he was sure that Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers player "cares about some real, legitimate issues."
 
You cannot intimidate everyone. Heck, the US had to learn that lesson the hard way when puny Vietnamese kicked its big, fat behind all the way back across the Pacific.
 
In his usual garbled I’m-so-mad-I’ll-burn-the-house-down theatrics, Duterte forgot one thing about Obama.
 
The US’ first African-American President spent his childhood facing down bullies. Obama has faced down a host of slights, injustices and dirty tricks. 

What he and his wife, Michelle, took during his campaign for the Presidency makes a picnic of Duterte’s own run. 

And Duterte forgets that hate flew Obama’s way not because he had a bad record – but simply because he was born a certain color.
 
No cheap Duterte curse is going to make Obama blink.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.