Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a core leader of the nationalist Thai Patriot Network (TPN) has been very busy lately. In his never ending effort to expand the borders of Thailand by taking over land belonging to Cambodia, on January 12th, Chaiwat filed a petition with the Central Administrative Court in Thailand to stop the government from withdrawing Thai troops from the disputed areas around the Preah Vihear temple. Chaiwat was essentially seeking an order keeping the Yingluck Shinawatra administration from following a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last year to demilitarize the disputed area. Chaiwat accused Prime Minister Yingluck of failing to perform her duties to protect Thailand’s sovereignty, and of intervening in the army’s military affairs.
Then, last week, Chaiwat led a mob called “Thais with Patriotic Heart” to the entrance of Thammasat University to protest a group of seven law lecturers who call themselves “Nitirat” or “Law for the People.” Nitirat is proposing measures to put a stop to military dictatorship and make Thailand’s lese majeste law less prone to abuse.
Once at Thammasat University, Chaiwat’s mob burned an effigy of Worachet Pakeerat, the most prominent member of the Nitirat group.
This “demonstration” was obviously an attempt to bully and intimidate the members of Nitirat. Here’s another picture of this mob at their protest calling America a “bully.”
I don’t know what part of their dispute with Nitirat has to do with America but since they want to bring us into it, I’ll be more than happy to oblige them.
It is very appropriate that Chaiwat uses the term “patriots” to describe the mobs he leads: The Thai Patriot Network and Thais with Patriotic Heart. I am reminded of the saying by one of America’s founding fathers, Samuel Johnson, who said "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."
Here’s a little known secret: Samuel Johnson isn’t entirely correct. Like most "sayings," there is an underlying inference that somehow just uttering the words makes it true. There have, of course, been scoundrels who have used patriotism to justify acts of political persecution or to vilify others by calling opponents unpatriotic. Throughout history, there have been periods where xenophobia and jingoism have been incorporated into a notion of patriotic fervor. These are periods where true scoundrels have run towards, but could never hide within the confines of patriotism for long.
There have been famous scoundrels who have done terrible things in the name of patriotism, but patriotism was not their last refuge. People like Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein brought destruction and ruination to their countries in misguided notions of superiority and national destiny, including plans to expand their countries’ borders at the expense of other nations.
|Scoundrels: Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein|
More of products of their times than great leaders, Hitler's and Hussein’s patriotism was not their last refuge; it was their first refuge. Their last refuges were literally “holes” in the ground; Hitler's was in a bunker in Berlin and Hussein’s was a spider hole in a farmhouse near his hometown of Tikrit.
I would personally like to suggest an appropriate "hole" for Chaiwat’s last refuge. Here’s a picture of it.
I’m sure there is room for others from the “Thai Scoundrel Network” and the “Thais with Scoundrel Heart”