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12.13.2006

Some Dictators They Like

Brent Bozell on the rather odd LWM double standard when it comes to tyrants:

The Washington Post headline was "A Dictator's Dark Legacy," and the reporters began by noting his government "murdered and tortured thousands during his repressive 17-year rule ... leaving a legacy of abuse that took successive governments years to catalogue." His death left an "incomplete" crusade to seek "justice" for his reign in the courts.

The New York Times headline noted Pinochet was a "Dictator Who Ruled by Terror in Chile." The Times began by describing him as "the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption." He was "never brought to trial." Both the Post and the Times used post-Pinochet government estimates that more than 3,000 people were executed or disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship.

But the same liberal press that despises right-wing autocrats cannot bring that same vigorous denunciation to bear when a communist dictator dies. When Chinese dictator Deng Xiaoping died in 1997, the Post mentioned the "bloody crackdown" in Tiananmen Square in 1989, but the words "dictator" or "dark legacy" did not appear in the headline, which simply recited the fact of death: "China's Deng Xiaoping, Dead at 92." The Post reporter did not attempt to enumerate the thousands or millions killed on Deng's watch, or wonder why he was never put on trial.

The Post presented Deng as a great liberalizer, to a point. "Deng had guided the country out of the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, flung open China's doors to the outside world and loosened the grip of central economic planning," while, ahem, "insisting that the Communist Party's monopoly on power go unchallenged."

Some communist leaders couldn't even be accused of liberalizing tendencies. When Korean despot Kim Il Sung died in 1994, The New York Times couldn't call him a dictator in their headlines, let along mention ruling by terror. The second story on the death was headlined, "Kim Il Sung, Enigmatic 'Great Leader' of North Korea for 5 Decades, Dies at 82."

The Times reporter proclaimed that to some Kim was "seen as a Stalinist maniac." (Note the qualifier "seen as.") And to others? There was also the "grandfatherly Kim Il Sung," a "smiling leader seeking respect for his economically disabled nation, the man who three weeks ago embraced Jimmy Carter" as a way of establishing contact with President Clinton.

So let's review. A right-wing ruler responsible for the deaths of 3,000 -- but also responsible for an economic miracle of free enterprise, and who allowed the democratic process which forced him from power: "dictator." But communist despots who controlled their citizens with iron fists until the day they died, preventing all manner of political, economic and religious freedoms, and who caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions: "leaders."


Let's not forget the outright sycophancy and willingness to be unpaid propaganda ministers for autocratic regimes typified by Walter "What Ukrainian Famine? The Kulaks Are Playing Hide-and-Seek" Duranty, whose Pulitzer still graces the hallowed halls of the New York Times.

All animals are equal. Some animals are more equal than others.

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