An Honest Man Can Feel No Pleasure...

Monday, December 11, 2006

...in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.

--Thomas Jefferson, in a letter he wrote to John Melish (a friend and early American cartographer)

I love the quote, which is extremely relevant in today's circumstances. This idea from the true American revolutionary is the foundation of a good President's mindset. Leadership is not about the exertion of power.

However, the quote is all the more relevant given the death of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who clearly derived intense pleasure from the exercise of power. Some statistics, nay, evidence of brutal exercises of power over one's fellow citizens includes:

  • Overthrowing a Democratically-elected government in a violent military coup;

  • 17 years in power, unchecked;

  • $28 million of the Peoples' money hidden in personal accounts;

  • Approximately 3,200 people killed or "made to disappear;"

  • Thousands more tortured, detained illegitimately, or exhiled;


Just to name a few. Even the Wikipedia entry on him is less than flattering.

There is a burgeoning discussion of this dictator-cum-corpse in Mike's Neighborhood to go check out as well.

But what really gets me are the loads of Pinochet apologists. There is a swell of bloggers and opinion editors willing to excuse this brutal dictator because of the strength of the Chilean economy that he set up. Never would I expect, though, an NPR affiliate to be among the list of the apologists.

Sure, they list a string of atrocities. But the title of the piece is "Pinochet's Economic Legacy." Not "One More Dead Bastard" or "Good Riddance to a Brutal Dictator" but "Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining [followed by much hand-wringing and meek shrugs]." The article also has lovely musings like:

  • Many have criticized his brutal regime, but he leaves behind a tremendously successful economic legacy [emphasis added]

  • Pinochet [violently] seized power [from a legitimately-elected government] in Chile in a 1973 coup. He then turned his country into a laboratory for free market reform [good for him!]

  • Even Pinochet's worst critics admit his economic model has been a success [worst critics??? What the heck have his best critics said??? That he was pretty cool??]


Chile's economy is strong. But to include in a vicious dictator's eulogy in an apologetic sort of "sure he was bad, but he did make one good policy" is to excuse the murder, torture, lies and corruption that were endemic to his regime.

Better to just say that's he's dead and be done, rather than candy-coat and excuse his crimes against humanity.

5 comments:

Pieralex,  3:25 PM  

Well, I say Cheers ! ( To the dictator's death ) And since his Regime was dark I will have a Michigan Nut Brown Ale ..

Smitty 3:42 PM  

Boy oh boy, that MBC Nut Brown is certainly a good beer...almost makes me want to forgive a brutal dictator his transgressions.

Mike 11:10 AM  

I'll join y'all in a toast to good beer and dead dictators.

(I'm easy that way.)

And thanks foer the shout-out, Smitty. T-Hous gave you & me one more today at LLPON.

Mike 11:11 AM  

Oh!

And that TJ quote is a really good one. Nice catch, I've never seen it anywhere.

B Mac,  2:04 PM  

Jeez, I feel like you guys are being a little harsh... you kill a few thousand people for no good reason, and that somehow automatically qualifies you as a bad guy?

What about all the people he DIDN'T kill? After all, he could have had more killed. Doesn't he get any bonus points for limiting his pointless dissappearings?

Talk about "glass-is-half-empty"...

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