Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Disappearing leftists

When is a citizen of Chile something more – or perhaps less – than a citizen of Chile?

Answer: When he or she is a “leftist”.

In the reporting of the trials and tribulations of Augusto Pinochet, the victims of the General’s regime are unfailingly labeled as “leftists”. Here’s just a quick sample:

  • ABC News Online: “...the disappearance and presumed death of three leftists...”
  • ABC News Online: “...put on trial for his campaign against leftists in South America.”
  • Science Daily: “...trial related to the disappearance and presumed deaths of three leftists.”
  • Reuters: “...face charges for the disappearance of leftists...”
  • Calcutta Telegraph: “...charges for disappearance of 119 Leftists during his regime...”
  • Indian Express: “...must now stand trial for the disappearance of leftists...”
  • Los Angeles Times: “...3,000 suspected leftists were ‘disappeared’ or killed...”
  • New York Times: “...the disappearance of six leftists during his rule...”
  • International Herald Tribune: “...charges for the disappearance of leftists...”

So it appears that the thousands of Chilean citizens who were “disappeared” and presumably murdered under the Pinochet regime are denied the status of being “patriots” or even “freedom-fighters”, but rather are reduced to being merely faceless “leftists”.

From which might be inferred the subtext that the General’s crimes against such people are somehow exceptional. And maybe even excusable?

Certainly, the likes of Baroness Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, and similar crypto-thugs of the Western power elite would like to think so.

Such an equivocal narrative dishonours those Chilean patriots who had the mettle to oppose power and tyranny.

Moreover, it diminishes all of us of the so-called freedom-loving West.