An editorial by John O’Sullivan appeared in last Tuesday’s Sun-Times, examining the work and the legacy of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who had passed away a few days earlier. O’Sullivan seems to have had two main points in mind: one, that calls to hold Pinochet accountable for the many thousands of Chileans who were exterminated in the name of strengthening his regime are illegitimate; motivated by forces who do not hold left-wing dictators accountable to the same standards to which they hold right-wing dictators. Second, though O’Sullivan can’t quite bring himself to say so explicitly, he makes it plain that he considers that brutal regime to be quite justifiable in the light of the improvements in Chile’s economy under Pinochet.
Well, I’d had enough of O’Sullivan’s Machiavellian politics. If he were an inarticulate idiot, I probably wouldn’t have bothered, but he’s quite a smooth talker and he can make some reprehensible notions sound fairly reasonable if one turns off one’s brain. And besides – he pissed me off. Before I knew it, I was clacking away noisily on my keyboard, translating my feelings of indignation into words. I tend to let a lot more of myself out when I’m pissed off!
The Sun-Times slightly edited my original letter, leaving off my final 3 sentences. If you’d like to see it on their web site, CLICK HERE – you’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of the screen to see my letter. Also—
John O’Sullivan’s true colors have finally bled through. In his column, “A successful dictator, who was vilified…” he tries to sneak through his message of support for the late Augusto Pinochet. Most telling is the sentence, “If Pinochet authorized murders, he should have been tried for them -- provided that the same rule applies to Castro, other surviving dictators, and those supporters of President Salvador Allende who killed opponents in the Chilean civil war.”
This, then, is O’Sullivan’s standard for justice – Pinochet, as a right-wing dictator, is not to be judged according to legal standards of guilt; he is to be held accountable only if O’Sullivan could use him as a bargaining chip to go after left-wing dictators. Apparently, in O’Sullivan’s world, economic success trumps all other deeds. Is there an inequity in the way mainstream media have treated these various dictators? Perhaps so. But while O’Sullivan may be a champion of the free market, his moral economics can only be described as bankrupt.