Mayor Isko Moreno’s tough stance on vandalism is something many middle class folks admire and defend. It is but natural because this class equates blind obedience to the law with good citizenship.
While in other instances, the same defenders of clean walls would style themselves as champions of free expression, on the issue of graffiti, it is nothing more than vandalism that ought to be condemned. No ifs, no buts.
Sure the middle class could be brave, but only when blaming or silencing ordinary citizens. Or when their political idols tell them to be brave. The middle class ideology is moderation, middle of the road, obedience to the law.
“Vandalism is vandalism,” tweeted a congressman from the comfort of his airconditioned cocoon. He has a reason to be angry. The Congress he is a part of is complicit on the issue of China and refuses to condemn the invasion. They even elected a pro-China legislator as leader. The graffiti “atin ang Pinas, China layas” is an attack on his and his institution’s cowardice and irresponsibility.
Would the same congressman say a similarly conclusive “plunder is plunder” or “graft is graft” to a fellow member of Congress already found guilty of corruption? Of course not. He’d say it is “improper” to do so. Quick, final, conclusive condemnation can only be handed out to the public.
When the President says “putangina,” does any of these guardians of moral politics stand up to tell him “that’s not proper”? Of course not.
There’s actually a long list of improper acts affecting millions or involving billions of taxpayer funds, but political moderates and political GMRC preachers are quiet about them. Worse, they give alibis to the improper. They want to silence dissent, as if the dissent is the problem.
The moderates along with the authorities and the entire system would want us to believe that we can rely on a very sophisticated system to fix our problems and address our concerns. Congress that makes laws. An executive branch that executes laws. Courts that interprets laws. Separation of powers and checks and balances.
But in our point of view, and in our daily life, that exact same sophisticated system perpetuates problems and ignores our concerns. They conspire with one another. They humiliate us no end.
And when we fight back, our movements and protests are vilified as terrorist, communist, brainwashed, or improper.
Consider this: If Panday Sining members instead wrote on the Lagusnilad wall a slogan like “war on poverty, not war on the poor,” would Moreno have acted differently and just quietly whitewashed it?
As Moreno refuses to admit shortcomings of the city government regarding garbage collection, or fails to defend the fundamental rights to life, to free expression and to due process, or runs away from his obligation to prosecute killers of Manileños, he should be ready to face dissent and criticism. And more graffiti.
I leave it to the artists and critics to debate on the Lagusnilad graffiti as art. Meantime, most of us continue to admire and praise Banksy, as he afflicts the comfortable and comfort the afflicted with his acclaimed graffiti.
Political moderation has always been the dominant political belief since 1986. The accumulation of false promises and sham practices by those who can’t moderate their greed paved the way for the demagogue of 2016.
We need more graffiti to wake us up. We need more graffiti to shock us into action. Never mind political moderation that only disappoints.
As another graffiti reminds us. “Revolution is the solution.”
Published in Manila Bulletin