Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hitchens on Pinochet

Good-bye and good riddance to a reprehensible old criminal. Hitchens is at his acerbic best as he scans the tawdry details of the Chilean dictator's power trail. It's too late to ameliorate the impact of his sins, but it's not too late to avert a whitewash. I used to be surprised when tears flowed at the death of a tyrant, but not any more. I have found profound ignorance among so many of my peers that nothing is any big surprise. If I recognize ignorance among those I know and love, how likely is it not part of the human condition? Thanks, 3Quarks for the link.

Pinochet ended up like Spain's Gen. Francisco Franco, with a series of deathbed farewells that were obscenely protracted and attended by numerous priests and offerings of extreme unction. By the end, Chileans had become wearily used to the way in which he fell dramatically ill whenever the workings of justice took a step nearer to his archives or his bank accounts. Like Franco, too, he long outlived his own regime and survived to see his country outgrow the tutelage to which he had subjected it. And, also like Franco, he earned a place in history as a treasonous and ambitious officer who was false to his oath to defend and uphold the constitution. His overthrow of civilian democracy, in the South American country in which it was most historically implanted, will always be remembered as one of the more shocking crimes of the 20th century.

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