The Philippines’ erratic and inflammatory new president Rodrigo Duterte compared himself to Adolf Hitler while discussing his efforts to rid his country of drug dealers and addicts on Friday. He appears to have meant it as a positive association.
Noting that Hitler had murdered millions of Jews, Duterte said, “There are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them.
“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have …,” he said, pausing and pointing to himself.
Duterte has acquired a reputation for making bombastic statements: He memorably called Barack Obama a “son of a whore.” But alarmingly, his Hitler statement isn’t just empty bombast. In the seven weeks after he took office, vowing to rid the country of the drug trade, nearly 1,800 dealers and users were killed by police and vigilantes, who he has actively encouraged. Witnesses have also testified before the country’s senate in recent weeks, alleging that while Duterte was mayor of Davao City, he ordered extrajudicial killings by a militia group known as the “Davao Death Squad.”
The president isn’t particularly receptive to international criticism of his tactics, threatening to withdraw the Philippines from the United Nations after it accused him of human rights violations. It’s not quite clear how you can effectively criticize a leader who takes comparisons to Hitler as a compliment.