Another bogus claim vs. a Filipino at UC Berkeley
A Filipino academic being considered for a teaching position at UC Berkeley is being attacked based on a claim of red-tagging or red-baiting.
Lisandro Claudio has a respected track record as a professor in the Philippines. But a petition asking UC Berkeley not to hire him claims he “unambiguously tags organizations, leaders, students and ordinary activists despite the perils of such tagging.”
My friend, the writer and activist Susan Quimpo, said “these accusations of red-tagging from certain academics from UC Berkeley is one that strikes a chord.”
That’s because she was subjected to a similar attack.
A few years ago, Susan also became a target of a sinister whisper campaign against her when she was promoting her book, Subversive Lives, a chronicle of her family’s courageous involvement in the fight against the Marcos regime. (I wrote about the book and why it’s a must read for young Filipinos. )
Her book tour was a modest, low-key effort to discuss her family’s ordeal under Marcos before students, teachers and members of the Filipino American community in the Bay Area. But then an email sent to UC Berkeley faculty spread false accusations about her and the book. She was even accused by the League of Filipino Students of giving a March 1, 2017 talk in which the group claimed “carries schismatic politics of red baiting of other activists during the Martial Law era.”
“During this particular political climate when Donald Trump’s neo-fascism is transforming US imperialism globally and in the US, and when Rodrigo Duterte’s state violence reigns with impunity, members of the League of Filipino Students… insist that subversion cannot take the form of self-aggrandizing via book tours and forums to disparage activists trying to build movements for peace and justice.”
It was a bizarre claim, based on a lie. As Susan herself wrote, she never gave a March 1 talk. She’s been a consistent critic and opponent not only of the Duterte regime, but also of the Marcos dictatorship.
And here’s the biggest twist: at least one key figure accusing her of red-baiting once supported Duterte.
Now, it appears that the same tactics are being used against Claudio. He deserves to be defended against these attacks. And I do so even though he once made public statements that I found disagreeable, even distasteful.
These were in connection with “My Family’s Slave,” the brilliant Filipino American journalist Alex Tizon’s account of Eudocia Pulido, the household help who was exploited by his parents.
It was a powerful essay published in The Atlantic that went viral a couple of years ago, a courageous retelling of a dark family secret. It was also a controversial, flawed, incomplete narrative of Pulido’s plight, which raised a lot of questions. But it was one of the rare instances when the son of a slavemaster dared to relate in detail the ordeal of a slave. Alex Tizon turned the spotlight on the experiences of Filipino domestic helpers, sparking an important discussion about a sensitive subject.
Inspired by what Alex wrote, other Filipinos and Filipino Americans shared their experiences as domestic helpers, children of domestic helpers and as middle class Filipinos who grew up in households where servants played key roles (as I discussed in a column.)
But the reactions to “My Family’s Slave” included vile, vicious and hateful comments against Alex Tizon, who died suddenly shortly before the article was published and didn’t get the chance to respond to the criticisms and the insults. He was a brilliant journalist and is still remembered by many as a gentle, kind and generous person.
It was troubling to read Claudio’s Facebook posts portraying Alex Tizon as a criminal and a huckster.
(I wrote about Alex and the “My Family’s Slave’ controversy in a column.)
Should these disturbing, distasteful statements on this issue lead one to endorse the campaign against him?
No. Absolutely not. He has been praised for contributions to the critical examination of the Duterte regime which are important at this time.
Besides, some of his detractors are identified with groups that embraced positions that are even more arrogant, repugnant and obnoxious.
These groups endorsed, and even celebrated Duterte, portraying him as some sort of revolutionary patriot. They continued praising Duterte even when it became clear that he had unleashed a brutal slaughter. And they even embraced Duterte’s abhorrent view that it’s fine for the brutal dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, the cemetery for the nation’s heroes.
This issue is not just about a Pinoy professor applying for a job at UC Berkeley. This is more about taking a stand against extreme and dogmatic left-wing bullying that just recently involved a cruel and mean-spirited attack against a hard-working, progressive and committed activist like Susan Quimpo.
“Why must one cry ‘red-baiter’” or accuse another of red-tagging in a blatant attempt at political intimidation,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “One may not share the same political ideology, but when one’s life’s work, one’s activism is evidence of genuine love for country, human rights and justice — shouldn’t we refrain from over-arching labels and damning accusations. There are so very few still willing to fight the good fight.”
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