Almost nobody is more reviled by the international intelligentsia and media than the late Augusto Pinochet, the late 20th -century Chilean dictator. He holds a prominent position in the political left’s “rogues’ gallery” comprised of those who stood in opposition to their goals.
His supposed “crimes” included conducting a military coup to illegitimately grab control of the Chilean government from a popularly elected president, rounding up and torturing huge numbers of innocent citizens (killing as many as 80,000 in the process) and corruptly stealing vast sums of money while ruling as a dictator.
But many of those claims are either false or exaggerated — most credible estimates of those killed are below 5,000 — or they must be viewed in context. More important, if we raise the examination of Pinochet from the bitter soil of leftist ressentiment to the question of human flourishing, he appears as one of recent history’s shining lights.
Read the whole thing — and my earlier posts on the topic too, if you haven’t seen them before.
I will never forget two things about my visit to Chile: the sight of old women placing flowers on the sidewalk outside Pinochet’s modest private home (now a museum) in Valparaiso, and at a formal dinner one night, one of the toasts was: “To General Augusto Pinochet, savior of Chile.”
It was delivered without irony, well received and supported by all the guests, and even more telling, it was said in English — no doubt for our benefit, and to make a point.