The Demolition Team Becomes Personal
The consensus I am getting from those who have written, texted, or even talked to me in person is this: "When I read that letter, I kept saying - this is exactly how I feel!" And so they forwarded it to the world. I would like to think that that letter is going around because people could relate to it and that it captures exactly what is in their hearts.
Some friends have warned me that there will be a backlash - that there will be some people who will put me to task for writing that letter. I knew the demolition teams were on their way. I have received four emails, two of which were written in a polite way (and I thanked them too). Some pontificated on online discussion groups, others in newspapers. I knew it was going to be savage. I just didn't expect these people to hit sooooo low. Savagery I can take. But low blows I will respond to.
I know I have said this before, and I loathe having to repeat it. But for the record, I just want to repeat what I have already said many times in this blog and in the rejoinders that I have written: I will not nitpick with those who disagree with my letter. I choose not to indulge in point by point, sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase, word by word analysis and counter analysis. I know this will sound condescending, but I will say it just the same because it is the truth: I have better things to do. Unlike some people, I have a life.
If you disagree with me, by all means disagree. But you can not tell me to shut up. You can not tell me that I have no right to speak up about these things. You can not tell me that just because you think you are right, I am automatically wrong. And you can not make analysis about me and my person, you have no right to patronize me.
One person did a demolition job of my letter, using logical and legal terms. In other words, he was showing off. He made a big case out of the need to protect rights and democracy from all kinds of threats specially from those in power. I actually found it funny that given his supposed legal brilliant mind, he did not realize that he was doing a legal analysis of a non-legal document to begin with. In the end he wrote something like this "I beg you, unless you are sure that there is legal basis for your statements, please do not write open letters." He ended by shooting himself on the foot. This is the problem with those who are so convinced of their brilliance, they can't see through their imagined radiance.
Someone said it was a matter of perspective, which I agree with wholeheartedly. I believe that it is truly a matter of perspective, and our perspectives were/are simply not the same. I wish he ended there. But no, he had this great need to pontificate. He then moved on to dispute why my perspective was wrong. Sigh. He even said my assumptions were wrong. Well, so much for recognizing differences in perspectives.
Another one made a lecture on morality, giving me this whole yarn about why forgiveness can only come with retribution. He ignored that part in my open letter that asked why he is with the Erap faction or with the communists. This is the problem with those who are so convinced of their righteousness - they can not see beyond their sanctimoniousness.
ONE MORE TIME: I never claimed to be legally correct in that letter. I never claimed to be intellectually, morally, ideologically right. I claimed to be angry, sick and tired. I said I want to move on. You can out-argue me, out-debate me, out-fact me, bombard me with propaganda materials and slogans. I will stand by my letter. Of course, it is possible that I am wrong and I am willing to consider that possibility. I wish that others are also open to that same possibility, but no, they are so convinced of their righteousness I am beginning to think at one point in the last week, God came down to earth and given them a particular license to judge.
There were some who told me (it is all directed at me, by the way, not to the people who forwarded that letter and said they share the opinions) that I should not forget the past, that the horrors of history will come and haunt me. They then drop names like Marcos (oh, isn't that Imee Marcos you are linking arms with?), words like fascism (oops, isn't that a leftist you are barricading for?) emergency proclamations (wait, how many did Cory issue during her presidency?). They then remind me that corrupt people must be punished (teka lang, isn't that an Erap crony you are shaking hands with? Whatever happened to Kamaganak, Inc? Hmm...the Clark Expo and Amari scandals?). So much for not remembering the past.
And the one thing that really turns me off and lose respect for people is this: when someone becomes personal and begins spewing vitriol that he thinks is clever, but is actually just plain patronizing.
One famous singer (who calls himself a nationalist despite the fact that he is acquiring another citizenship) debunked my letter in a newspaper by making inferences about what kind of a person I am. Actually this is similar to what a famous sociologist did on TV. The drift of their thesis was this: I probably sit in an airconditioned office, must be middle class, etc., etc... For the record, I am the son of a farmer and a public school teacher. I am proudly promdi who comes from one of the poorest provinces in the country. I paid my way through college with scholarships. But then again, what does it matter if I am middle or lower class, if I live in Forbes Park or in Pritil Tondo or in BF Homes, if I eat caviar or tuyo. What the heck has that got to do with that letter?
Some people drop names and resort to name calling. I find this utterly cheap. Someone called me a GMA pet, a GMA apologist, a burgis (how seventies), a traitor, etc. All simply because I exercised my right, which they say they are fighting for. They want to fight for my rights, they just do not want me to disagree with them, otherwise, they call me names.
One person I totally ignored even if he posted his comments in the email group of a professional organization that I am part of began his response to my letter by actually asking: "how old are you Mr. Austero?" He said he was asking because I was obviously not familiar with the horrors of Martial Law.
For the record, I am 42 years old this week. I was picked up by the military twice when I was in College. I spoke at countless anti-Marcos rallies. I went underground for one year in Mindanao. There. But so what if I am 42, or if I am 20 or 75 or 150? So what? Does that fortify my arguments, give me more rights, does that give me more license to pontificate? What has that got to do with my letter? What has that got to do with citizenship?
I truly find it tasteless that some people reduce the whole discussion and exchange of views to nothing but a childish painggitan. I wouldn't be surprised if they ask me next "kayo may Expedition kayo? Beh, kami may 3."