April 25, 2019
IT seems the only explanation on Mamasapano and DAP that the nation will ever get from Benigno Aquino 3rd is stony silence. It is as if they never happened.
By comparison, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, one of the world’s longest-reigning monarchs, is less reticent and more forthcoming. His state has come out publicly to seek tolerance and understanding of its new Sharia penal law from other states.
In striking contrast also, the actress Felicity Huffman found the words to express regret for her actions that led to charges in court.
The closest Aquino has come to regretting Mamasapano was to tell children of the slain SAF commandos, “Pareho lang tayo, I lost my father also.”
This is empathy for him.
Brunei writes EU for tolerance
The Daily Caller reported on April 23 that the state of Brunei, a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), sent a letter to the European Union last week, asking for “tolerance” and “understanding” of its new Sharia Law penal code, which includes violent punishment for adultery, theft and homosexual behavior.
In a four-page document addressed to members of the European Parliament, Brunei defended its new Sharia criminal law, saying that the punishment of “hadd,” or stoning to death and amputation for offenses such as sodomy and theft, is permissible because it comes directly from Allah.
“There appears to be a misconception as to the application and/or interpretation of the provisions of the SPCO, Syariah Courts Evidence Order, 2001 and Syariah Courts Criminal Procedure Code Order, 2018 which we would like to clarify,” the letter reads in part.
In an attempt to reconcile Sharia law with Western standards, the letter demands that MEPs consider diversity and tolerance when judging the penal code.
“It must be appreciated that the diversities in culture, traditional and religious values in the world means that there is no one standard that fits all. This necessitates tolerance, respect, understanding and the giving of policy space,” the letter reads.
Brunei’s letter goes on to claim that while Islam is the “official religion” of Brunei, “the right of non-Muslims to practice their religions in peace and harmony” will be recognized.
The letter then asserts that the new Sharia criminal law aims to “rehabilitate” and “nurture” rather than punish.
“The Shariah criminal law system focuses more on prevention than punishment. Its aim is to educate, deter, rehabilitate, and nurture rather than to punish,” the letter reads.
Concerning people of LGBTQ identities, the letter states that the criminalizing of sodomy under the new penal code seeks to “safeguard the sanctity of family lineage,” specifically addressing that “the SPCO does not criminalize nor has any intention to victimize a person’s status based on sexual orientation or belief.”
The contents of the letter were put to a vote in the European Parliament last week, in which MEPs overwhelmingly backed a resolution condemning “the entry into force of the retrograde sharia penal code” in Brunei. The EU also reportedly ordered asset freezes and boycotts of nine hotels owned by Brunei investment agencies in response to the sultanate’s new laws.
Stagecraft of apologies
Kevin D. Williamson has written a fine essay on “the craft of apologies” in the National Review (“Felicity Huffman and the stagecraft of apologies,” April 18, 2019) that is illuminating on why some apologies work, and others fail.
He reports that Felicity Huffman, charged with fraud in a high-profile college-admissions scandal, has issued an apology that is a model of craft. Her apology reads:
“I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions. I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.”
This, Williamson comments, is “a classical good apology: admission of guilt, statement of regret, specific acknowledgments of harm done — and no excuses. No sudden recollection of childhood abuse or trauma, no prescription-drug side effects, no checking herself into rehab. That’s the kind of apology that might keep you out of jail.”
Williamson says that a good apology is an increasingly rare thing in the 21st century.
Apologies in this century have become almost entirely self-interested affairs — which, in a sense, means that they are not authentic apologies.
President Clinton typified the falseness. When he finally was no longer able to keep lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, he offered an angry half-apology during which he heaped bile on the special prosecutors investigating him. That did not work. And so, he tried again — about a half-dozen times, in fact.
Clinton didn’t really apologize, but insisted he had: “You know, I have acknowledged that I made a mistake, said that I regretted it, asked to be forgiven, spent a lot of very valuable time with my family in the last couple of weeks.”
Clinton got real sorry real quick when the big stick came out and he was impeached. The public and his family got angry half-apologies; Congress got groveling. “What I want the American people to know, what I want the Congress to know, is that I am profoundly sorry for all I have done wrong in words and deeds,” Clinton said. “I never should have misled the country, the Congress, my friends, and my family… Mere words cannot fully express the profound remorse I feel for what our country is going through, and for what members of both parties in Congress are now forced to deal with.”
No one believed that, of course, and no one pretended to…but Clinton got reelected.
To lift the weight of the past
Perhaps learning from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s “I am sorry” speech on the “Hello Garci” tapes, which got her only Hyatt 10, Noynoy has adopted a total vow of silence on Mamasapano and the DAP bribery scandal. Both events originated with him. And there, they must stay.
The Liberal Party has joined him in a virtual omerta, the mafia word for “conspiracy of silence.” Ateneo, if it does not stop listening to Fr. Villarin, may take part.
Jesuits and Ateneans should reread John Henry Newman’s classic, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, to regain their wits.
Better still, they should reflect on the “day of pardon” Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in March 2000, when Pope John Paul ll issued an apology for the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Vatican’s inaction and silence in the face of the Holocaust.
John Paul II said the Mass was an attempt to purify memory. Or, as one writer put it, “to lift the weight of the past.”
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