TODAY, we beat a dead horse. It is a horse that comes up often in this column, and as much as I would rather talk about other matters – for instance, did you know that Baguio inked three sisterhood pacts just recently? The family is growing.
The dead horse is also growing. It shouldn’t be, and that is exactly why it is infuriating to talk about.
The dead horse in question is the red-tagging of perfectly legitimate, well-meaning, and ultimately harmless student organizations. We have had yet another incident this week, where some retired general hopped onto a UP Baguio NSTP lecture and started blasting accusations of being “communist front groups” aimed at student organizations left and right.
How many times does it have to be reiterated that activism is a fully legitimate and ultimately beneficial act? How many times does it – red-tagging – have to be condemned before anything sticks? How much must we beat this dead horse? By the gods, the horse is way past dead. Have mercy on the poor corpse. We have desecrated it into a pulp.
But it bears repeating, frustratingly, that red-tagging is both a legitimate danger and that activism is a legitimate way of airing out grievances with the system. We beat the horse again.
Red-tagging is not only horrible on the recipient’s psyche, it poses a genuine threat to the safety of the people involved. Labeling individuals and groups as communist front groups opens them up to the possibility of genuine harm from individuals and groups who may have a vested interest in fighting said communist front groups such as the police and the military.
Red-tagging makes it far easier for such acts as undue arrests against people who have done nothing to be arrested for to occur. It justifies violence. It justifies harassment. Suddenly, the innocent are guilty, and suddenly they are targets. It demonizes. Just spare a thought for the innocent student who is suddenly an enemy of the arm of the law.
And – this I think is not discussed enough – spending resources hunting down the red-tagged innocent actually hinders in the hunt of the actual communist terrorist element. Resources are spent on individuals and groups with no actual ties to the CPP-NPA-NDF, instead of being spent on actually targeting the legitimate members of the communist organizations.
Regardless of your views on the legitimacy of the communist insurgency, if you are in any way in support of wiping them out, then it is in your best interest to clap back at baseless red-tagging, since it gets in the way of actual progress.
There is a general wisdom to this. Remember that when hunting down the criminal, the illegal, and the subversive, targeting the innocent means that the guilty get away. It is counterproductive. We are wasting resources. And we are beating dead horses.
Activism is not illegal, nor is it associated with the CPP-NPA-NDF at large. Activism is merely an outlet of seeking change in a system when there are few options for recourse. Never forget that many rights that we enjoy are due to acts of activism to begin with. Never has the status quo been changed by asking the rulers for change politely.
But you know that by now. We’ve talked about activism and red-tagging plenty of times in this column. We beat the dead horse.
We will beat it until it sticks.
(Angel Castillo writes the bi-weekly column Verhungern as well as this informational bit in third person. For responses or thoughts, email the dedicated firstname.lastname@example.org email address.)