Conservatives pay homage to dictator.
It seems incontrovertible that Augusto Pinochet killed people. Not personally but in the impersonal, bureaucratic way that people in power kill others -- through orders handed down to subordinates. George Bush can fill you in on that better than I can. He, Pinochet not Bush so don't get them confused, had people rounded up, often secretly. He had them imprisoned without access to an attorney and without charges being filed. He did it for the good of the nation. Yes, I'm still talking about Pinochet, I know it is confusing.
But people disappeared under Pinochet and when they reappeared, if they did, they were dead. But Pinochet was anti-communist and the unprincipled conservatives think that sufficient reason to overlook his crimes. In fact they go one step further, they praise him.
National Review, which is supposedly one of the saner publications that conservatives read ran a forum on Pinochet. Here are some of the views of the participants. Anthony Daniels says the Left doesn't hate Pinochet 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 compnay to get into) but because he was so successful." This seems to say that since Pinochet was not one of the worst killers in recent history that it's okay.
Roger Fontaine says that human rights did suffer, that Pinochet was corrupt, that "there was the small matter" of having peopole assassinated. But he will be "remembered as leaving the country better off than he found it." There was a time when "small government" conservatives would have opposed a dictatorship but apparently those days are gone.
Thor Halvorssen, to his credit, repudiates this kind of thinking. He says Pinochet "took full control of Chile -- by force.. His government disappeared 3,000 opponents, arrested 30,000 (torturning thousands of them), and controlled the country until 1990." Halvorssen had no good words for Pinochet.
Mario Loyola said that Pinochet did some nasty things but "tried to redeem" himself and that we shouldn't be surprised "by the number of Chileans who are still thankful for that. Ion Pacepa asked God to bless Pinochet for saving "Chile from becoming another Communist hell."
Is it any wonder that as Bush, using the monster of terrorism to terrify, has the support of so many conservatives as he shreds the Bill of Rights. Why is the Right so silent on the issue of the American government engaging in torture? Because like the extreme Left they have adopted the view that the ends justify the means. One major problem with conservatives is that they define so much of themselves by what they oppose and not what they support. They are backward looking by nature, fearful of change, fearful of freedom since freedom encourages changes. And so when a dictator comes along with the same sentiments they have a tendency to excuse him.