Another Symposium of Denial
While Holocaust deniers from all over the world are enjoying the hospitality of Tehran, National Review Online is having its own symposium of denial, only here they’re whitewashing the terrorist regime of Augusto Pinochet. Of the six participants, only one person, Thor Halvorssen, actually had the strength of character to condemn Pinochet for his crimes. The rest praise him for, basically, not being as bad as Fidel Castro. Talk about the bigotry of low expectations. Apparently as far as National Review is concerned, a regime characterized by despotism and international terrorism is a successful one for Latinos, so long as there are a few market reforms thrown in.
Personally, I think that this statement by Otto Reich is the most morally reprehensible of the lot:
Augusto Pinochet was a tragic figure. Instead of being remembered for saving Chilean democracy from a communist takeover, and starting the country on the longest-lasting economic expansion in Latin America, which he did, he will be remembered mostly for carrying out a brutal campaign of human-rights abuses.
Yes, because god forbid that a torturer, despot, and state sponsor of terrorism be remembered as a bad guy. I mean, he did lower taxes, after all!
Reich goes on to comment that Pinochet’s coup and subsequent military dictatorship were okay, since the Chilean public at the time supported the coup. Which is roughly akin to saying that Hitler wasn’t all that bad, since the Nazi Party was the largest party in the Reichstag.
Indeed, most of the comments in this symposium are akin to defending Hitler on the grounds that (a) he wasn’t as bad as Stalin, (b) resisted Communist rule, and (c) his Nazi Party was democratically elected. Oh, and he made the trains run on time, too!
Was Pinochet as bad as Hitler, or Stalin, or even Castro? I suppose that on the scale of such things–no, he wasn’t. But that doesn’t make him any less a despot, any less a torturer, any less a terrorist, or any less a murderer.