Emmet Tyrrell over at Town Hall has some things on his mind about Pinochet.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Justice never sleeps. Or rather, the free-floating moralism that is the left never sleeps.
Ok, he’s going to attack the left from a principled moral perspective. I can’t wait.
The 89-year-old man is, of course, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and his human rights abuses are not even reported in the newspapers as “alleged” human rights abuses. For The New York Times on Tuesday, Guzman’s decision was front-page news — in fact, the day’s major news story with a color picture of Guzman embraced by Pinochet’s emotional opponents.
The photograph dominated three columns! In the body of the Times story, the word “communist” never appeared, only “Marxists.” For all the untutored reader might know, Pinochet’s victims might have been the country’s librarians or butterfly collectors.
Uh, bad start. Marxists are less worthy of life than others.
That word, “Marxists,” appeared in a quote from Pinochet, who said a year ago on a Spanish-language television show: “Everything I did I would do again. Who am I supposed to ask for forgiveness? They are the ones who have to ask me for forgiveness, them, the Marxists.”
The old boy came to power in 1973. For six months before he took over, politicians and private citizens in large numbers had been imploring the military to deliver Chile from President Salvador Allende, a romantic and incompetent Marxist pseudo-intellectual who spent his last year in a drunken haze while economic chaos spread.
Wait, why are we attacking Marxists again?
For the next 17 years, Pinochet, his military and his secret police waged war against leftists, usually within Chile but occasionally abroad through a series of political assassinations. Pinochet’s political assassinations were not as numerous as those practiced by Soviet satellite countries. Nor was his war as bloody as Gen. Francisco Franco’s war against communists and other leftists in the 1930s, but it was brutal enough to offend civil libertarians everywhere, including me.
Ok, better, he was offended by the violations of human rights. He loses a point for qualifying it by saying the Soviets were worse.
Yet, like Franco, he did return his country to democracy. How many communists have done that? Moreover, communism accounted for scores of millions of innocent victims in the 20th century. Pinochet’s regime allegedly accounted for 4,000, not all of them peace-loving progressives.
Ok, there are still problems. Still trying to excuse the murders a little. This principled thing is harder than it looks.
How many has Fidel Castro murdered, tortured and jailed? Today, Castro remains a bloody tyrant and far more of a problem beyond his shores than the general with the absurd sun-glasses and the 18th-century uniforms ever was.
Finally, when Fidel ultimately croaks, he will have left what was once the most prosperous country in Latin America in a heap. Are any of Pinochet’s present-day tormentors demanding Castro’s prosecution for crimes against humanity?
Ok, more relativism; I’m not sure he’s even trying anymore. He gets a bonus deduction for equating Castro’s current situation (current leader of a country, not really in a position for us to prosecute him, tormentors of Pinochet are largely relatives of victims of Pinochet) with Pinochet.
There are two points worth noting here. One is that the left — whether communist or simply glassy-eyed reformist — never tires in hunting down its enemies. The other is that its enemies are always on the right, or at least the perceived right. The old Soviet Bloc countries are filled with retired brutes who did far more damage to the civil liberties and the prosperity of their countries than Pinochet ever did. There is no effort to prosecute these enemies of freedom commensurate with the effort against Pinochet.
Oh, wait, I may have misunderstood what Tyrrell meant. He doesn’t need to be morally principled, the left does. It does clear some things up.
If indeed the prosecution of Pinochet would elevate regard for human rights worldwide, I would be among the first to celebrate Judge Guzman’s decision. Yet it is not the opponents of Pinochet who have made great strides in the elevation of human rights worldwide. Rather, it has been North Americans and Europeans, most notably the English-speaking peoples.
Right now, those people are leading the world in a struggle against tyrants who, unlike an 89-year-old retired general, can actually shoot back. How prominent have Pinochet’s opponents been in the struggle against Islamofascism and the sadistic Saddam Hussein? The answer is not very.
Yeah! And where’s the condemnation of Uzbekistan leader Islam Karimov? His government boils people! How about Saudi Arabia’s beheadings?
Oh, wait, those are friends of the President. We’ll ignore them for now.
In fact, many of those cheering for Pinochet’s neck today blithely lump Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush into the same category they reserve for Pinochet.
There is a great deal of posturing about civil liberties and justice in the campaign against Pinochet. There is also something else. It is difficult to explain, but it is observable. The left worldwide reserves its hostility for people on the right and for America and its allies, who are the real guarantors of the rights of man.
Well then, how did he do? He was a rousing success in holding the left to some kind of moral standards. Unfortunately, he didn’t quit make those standards either. Ah well, just another day at Town Hall.