Who is the real enemy here?
It’s been over a month since Toni Gonzaga interviewed Bongbong Marcos. One might think that the backlash should have been enough to silence the pro-Marcos camp. Instead, the interview keeps on propagating itself. For example, one of Marcos Jr.’s nuggets of “wisdom” has been converted into a calligraphy demonstration, an amateur campaign video, and a Tweetable quote.
“If you’re making your enemies angry, you’re doing a good job,” Marcos said, purportedly quoting Churchill.
A quick Google search shows that Churchill (and rapper Eminem) supposedly said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Note the choice of words: There is no judgment made on the cause for which one stands. The phrase does not read, “Got enemies? You stood up for something good.” There, too, is no insinuation that one must have angry or angered enemies. All that the quote says is that those who stand up for something, anything, can get shot down because of sheer visibility.
A more detailed search, however, reveals that there is no evidence that Churchill ever actually spoke the words. The Churchill “quote” is a modern-day paraphrasing of passages from Victor Hugo’s essay, “Villemain” (1845). The original reads: “You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do not bother yourself about it; disdain. Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear.”
The writing, again, is deliberate, and is a wild departure from “if you make your enemies foam at the mouth, then good for you.” Hugo’s quote is reserved for those who have done great deeds and created new ideas; these great deeds and new ideas, as much as they are passports to fame, are also magnets for enemies. Those who have enemies should not be bothered. They must keep their minds calm, and their lives righteous.
As with the rephrasing, the Hugo quote says nothing about making enemies angry; again, the quote says that by default, those active in the public sphere will attract enemies because of their presence. The last two sentences are particularly important: Why be bothered by enemies and why seek to make them angry, let alone revel in their anger? One’s life must remain principled, good, clean. Not sure if I’d associate that last one with the Marcoses.
Setting the debates on credentials and accomplishments aside, the mere framing of detractors as “enemies” is alarming. Marcos does not see people in those who question him. He defines them as mere flies to be swatted away, bothersome pests simply driven mad by empty anger. And the history of his family? Mere gossip, misunderstandings, trivial history to be ignored. This is no candidate for the presidency: This is someone who makes excuses for everything, sticks labels on people when he cannot respond to them properly, and then sits back to watch his loyal minions discredit those who question his qualifications.
This is not a president. This is an instigator of quarrels. This is a bully. This is someone who had all the resources to be educated, to be better—but chose to squander his chances, the way his family squandered our taxes.
Perhaps the quote that Marcos Jr. is thinking of is much closer to another, more recent passage, circa 1939.
“I hold that it is bad as far as we are concerned if a person, a political party, an army or a school is not attacked by the enemy, for in that case it would definitely mean that we have sunk to the level of the enemy. It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but achieved a great deal in our work.”
The words are much closer to Marcos’ vision: enemies savage in their appraisal of him, attacks a sign of good deeds done, a divide between those who criticize him and those who accept him blindly.
A legacy of famine, imprisonment, and mass murder.
No surprises there.
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