Sunday, November 04, 2012

None Dare Call It Déjà Vu

We know the saying of how those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. More than that, we can also learn from the history of others.

This past September, the results the California-based National Asian American Survey were released. It was disclosed that 43 percent of likely Asian-American voters favor Democratic incumbent Barack Obama, as opposed to only 24 percent in support of Republican challenger Mitt Romney. What is interesting about these results can be observed in those of Filipino-Americans. While Fil-Ams favored Obama over Republican Senator John McCain by 50 to 46 percent in 2008, they out of all Asian-American groups currently favor Romney over Obama by 38 to 32 percent. Some have attributed this rightward tilt to a flood of new Catholic immigrants. This does not seem plausible when you consider that 80 percent of Filipinos are already Catholic.

Congressman Tim Ryan, Democrat of Ohio, who has represented the now-defunct 17th congressional district since 2003, is running to stay in office in the new 13th district. He is being challenged on the Republican ticket by Marisha Agana, a Filipino-American pediatrician and mother of three. Born in 1960 and first arriving in America in 1986, Dr Agana is entering her first run for public office, as a dedicated pro-lifer and "tea party" Republican, as well as a strict constitutionalist. She briefly gained national attention with a message she posted on Twitter that made some unfavorable comparisons at the expense of President Obama.

History has a way of repeating itself: Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung and now Obama!!!

She has since been moved to clarify this remark, focusing the comparison on his virulent pro-abortion stance. However, she refused to back down on her misgivings with respect to the current President. In an interview with The Huffington Post, she warned:

I am fearful of the direction this country is headed: socialism!

Dr Agana is hardly the first to call attention to such a trend. But in an interview on The Filipino Channel's newsmagazine Balitang America, she elaborated on this position, drawing an ominous comparison between certain policies and practices of the Obama administration, and those of the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

There are events in the past four years that President Obama is in office that reminded me of conditions that preclude the declaration of Martial Law of then President Marcos in 1972. (From on-screen transcript.)

Marcos was eventually deposed by the "People Power Revolution" in February of 1986, an uprising of which the late Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin, was its spiritual leader, with the rosary as its primary weapon.

Obviously, not all Fil-Ams agree with Dr Agana, and at least one of them was also interviewed on the TFC program. Then again, a strong minority of Filipinos are still supportive of the Marcos family, especially in his home province of Ilocos Norte, represented in the Philippine Senate by his son, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, as well as in Leyte, the home province of the late president's wife Imelda, where she still wields considerable influence. There are always those who will benefit from those in power, even those who misuse it. At the end of the day, and as the general election draws near, we cannot dismiss this cautionary tale, from one for whom the abuse of power under what was ostensibly a constitutional republic is a vivid memory. We know from this past century alone, that autocrats are not always ushered into power by brute force, but often by the popular acclaim of those who live to reap the bitter fruit of their own misguided choices.

Can we honestly say to ourselves, that it can never happen here?

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