Part of being a paleoconservative is facing down hostile remarks and insults by the usual suspects of the Left and the neocon Right. Aside from the ubiquitous "racist" (defined by VDARE's Peter Brimelow as "someone who's winning an argument with a liberal"), used in response to the most inoffensive, barely un-PC remark, there is also the more emotionally-laden "Nazi" or "fascist", the latter used by the more intellectually inclined. Being a political science major (also known as: the no-gainful-employment-prospects/stepping-stone-to-law-school major) in a large CUNY school, I quickly learned what it's like to face a crowd of screaming, screeching, hysteric liberals.
In 2006, one of my professors, a vaguely libertarian young man from Grenada, whose professional dream was to write a history of the Armenian genocide (go figure!), announced at the start of class that Pinochet passed away the previous day. An especially annoying girl, born and raised in Sweden to Chilean parents started hooting and clapping. In response, I got up from my seat and said that Pinochet was a great man who saved Chile from communism and I have the deepest respect for him, adding that there are worse things a leader could do than off 3,000 or so commies. "You're a Nazi, you're a Nazi!!!", yelled the girl, dissolving into hysterics. I calmly rejoined that at least a dozen of my relatives died fighting the Nazis on the Eastern Front and asked how many of her ancestors fought against Hitler. The poor, flabbergasted professor abruptly switched to another topic.
After class I learned that the girl's parents were Chilean communists who were arrested and allegedly tortured by Pinochet before being let out to move to Sweden to enjoy the good life in Stockholm. How tragic! In their beloved Soviet Union, the best they could have hoped for was a decade in the Gulag, if not outright disappearance.
I remembered this little episode a few weeks ago, over some beer and bratwurst with Tom Piatak in a Manhattan beer garden. The television on the wall was showing an ESPN documentary about a World Cup qualifying match between Pinochet's Chile and the USSR in 1973, just two months after Pinochet took power. The Soviets refused to play in Santiago and FIFA would not change the venue, so the Chileans walked on the pitch and kicked the ball into an empty, unguarded goal, ensuring them a spot in the World Cup.
The documentary, quite predictably, was a leftist exercise in Pinochet-hatred. Even the former Chilean footballers, complained about "state-sponsored terrorism" and "dictatorship", conveniently forgetting the fact that only because of Pinochet, their country avoided civil war and did not turn into a South American Cuba, ridden with bread lines and labor camps, instead becoming an economic powerhouse. All of the sudden these formerly content Chileans who quietly enjoyed the General's rule all turned into anti-Pinochet activists. Well, spitting on a great man's grave requires no courage.
On the other hand, many Russians admire Pinochet. I remember watching a very sympathetic Russian television documentary about the General in 2001 or so, praising him, especially for the Chilean economic miracle. The hint was clear: Russia could have used a Pinochet of her own. Some said that the late General Lebed, who met with Thomas Fleming and Srdja Trifkovic in Moscow almost two decades ago, was a prime candidate.
Eugene Girin is a New York-based attorney and commentator.