The Hero of the Right
The most disturbing thing about Augusto Pinochet, who is now dead, is not that he seized power from a democratically-elected government. It's not that he never faced justice for his crimes. It's not that he was supported by the United States government. It's not even that he tortured and killed thousands of innocent Chileans. No, the most disturbing thing about Augusto Pinochet is that he is adored by the right, many of whom act as apologists for his brand of dictatorship.
What's so disturbing about this is that a not insignificant number of conservatives consider Pinochet, on balance, a good guy. I mean sure, he tortured and kill thousands of people. Sure, he stole his country's wealth and robbed its citizens blind. But hey, look on the bright side: he believed in free markets! What's disturbing about this is that so many of these right-wingers consider themselves decent human beings, and yet they make every excuse for this murdering, torturing bastard. It's almost as bad as the left's inexcusable support of communist regimes during the 60s and 70s - I say almost because the full extent of the damage to be done by Communism was not fully known at that point. However, what Pinochet did to thousands of innocent Chileans at the Villa Grimaldi complex is well known.
Reading the tribute to him at NRO is truly stomach-turning:
"The reason Augusto Pinochet was universally hated by leftists and many academics worldwide was not because he was so brutal or killed so many people (he hardly figured among the 20th century’s most prolific political killers, admittedly a difficult company to get into) but because he was so successful..."
"Human rights did suffer under Pinochet... But Pinochet will also be remembered as leaving the country better off than he found it."
"And unlike his fellow Latin American generals, he let market-oriented civilians lay the basis for Chile’s economy — the most productive in the region. Can his fellow caudillo in Cuba — soon to be among the departed as well — say the same?"
(ed note: Right, because the failure of the Cuban economy has nothing to do with the 45-year-and-still-going-strong embargo against trade with the evil commies of Cuba... even while trading at ever-growing levels with the evil commies of China. Incidentally, I have no love for the regime in Cuba whatsoever, I'm just pointing out the facts.)
"The crimes of Pinochet may be unpardonable. But at least he tried to redeem them."
(ed note: I'm curious as to how one redeems oneself for institutionalized, and particularly brutal torture?)
"Pinnochet saved Chile from becoming another Communist hell. God bless him for that, and may he be forgiven for his later aberrations. Not only in Chile does power corrupt."
"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."