Without beating around the bush, here’s the reason why Thomas Van Beersum is hated and reviled by many netizens: he is a white Communist from the Netherlands who’s friends with Jose Ma. Sison.
What’s there not to hate? We don’t like being told off by foreigners who think they know everything. We don’t like Communists who think they know everything. We sure as hell don’t have any love for Joma Sison, who thinks he knows everything. He’s easy enough to hate as it is, and when he’s hurling strong propaganda on an already-crying cop and disrupting the President’s State of the Nation Address, we hate him even more. Deport him. Let him go back to the Netherlands and fraternize with our enemy. Fuck him.
Now I’m not writing this to defend Van Beersum’s actions. But he was not the one who made PO1 Sevilla cry. He was not the one who instigated any sort of violence when he was in the streets that day. His crime is this: he is a white Communist from the Netherlands who’s friends with Jose Ma. Sison.
If there’s anyone to be blamed for PO1 Sevilla crying, it’s the Philippine National Police. Sevilla said it himself: he was deployed for two days, with no food and no rest, and he had to be at defending the line against protesters who may – and will – turn violent. You can only push a man so far in the line of duty before he breaks. Few people have castigated – much less criticized – the PNP for its lack of preparedness when it comes to dealing with protesters, violent or non-violent.
Let’s put aside some notion of “humanity” for a second: it wouldn’t have happened if the officers worked in shifts, if they were fed and sustained and sheltered, and – if we really wanted it – if they were all armed in riot armor to disperse those protesters.
So if Van Beersum didn’t make PO1 Sevilla cry, then what did he do to receive such wrath? Obviously it’s not what he did, but the moment we peered into Van Beersum’s convictions did we find something so abhorrent and despicable in our eyes: not only is he a foreigner meddling with our affairs, he’s also a Communist whose boorish ways don’t do any favors to making his cause more acceptable, much less understood.
True, the law does say that aliens who come here to preach an overthrow of the government are undesirable and therefore should be deported. By law, he should be punished and sent back to the next flight to Schiphol, never to return. After all, he showed us how Communists act in a fit of rage, when they start kicking men when they are down and spew forth propaganda whose ends so far have been disproved and falsified by history.
It also shows us a side of things we want to sweep under the rug.
Forget reading comments: if you skim through the comments of any news article in a local news site bearing Van Beersum’s name, you would see abhorrent and despicable things about us as well. Things that not only make us racists, but intolerant of any belief or conviction that runs contrary to what we think is comfortable and popular. Van Beersum may be accused of everything from being an asshole to a xenophobe, but he cannot be faulted for standing for – and acting on – his convictions and beliefs. What Van Beersum did is, rightly or wrongly, more than most of us will do in the name of cause.
Had he been just a white guy, it would have been a little bit more okay. Had he been just a Communist, we would have lumped him along with the Satur Ocampos and Teddy Casinos of the world, whose nuanced beliefs are easier to lump together as “Communist.” But no: Van Beersum is a white Communist who talked with a certain self-exiled political demagogue in Utrecht. That was his crime, and our crime too. Not only did we expose ourselves to be people prone to the most blatant and unrepentant forms of racism, but we also exposed ourselves as haters of anything that inconveniences us, bearing red tags for each and every single one of them if need be. It’s perfectly human and at times understandable, but it begs the rebuke: aren’t we all so much better than this? If Van Beersum becomes the poster boy for every Dutch socialist in the world, shouldn’t those racist intolerant comments be ambassadors for us as well?
And that, rightly or wrongly, we are as stuck as our “Communist” friends at a time where we would look at other points of view with prejudice than judiciousness, when labels become more convenient than discussions, when we would rather hurl chest-thumping pejoratives than use that often-invoked word: “discourse.” Be it on the streets, on social media, or anywhere else. Aren’t we all so much better than this?
The raging against Van Beersum has somehow eclipsed a certain image of another rallyist, an old man who was bloodied in the scuffle. This old man rallied, protested and demanded the real state of the nation from the President, and got his head taped with gauze and blood running down his shirt. Yet he defiantly raised his fist in the air with a look of grim determination and dissent in his eyes. He’s not white, and he isn’t a Communist. If Van Beersum’s crime is to be a white Communist in a Filipino rally, then the crime we would accuse this man of is something that will reflect even harder on who we are.