Friday, June 16, 2006
Dear Gov. Schweitzer and other "bashers",
What would be wrong with calling Governor Schweitzer a "dictator"? Would it be harmful? Would it be politically-incorrect? Would it simply be inaccurate? Or would it sound ludicrous, possibly driven by ideology or irrational prejudice?
On two separate occasions, Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) called Hugo Chavez a dictator. In a 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl, Schweitzer said: "'Why wouldn’t we create an economic engine that will take us into the next century, and let those sheiks and dictators and rats and crooks from all over the world boil in their own oil?' Schweitzer has called them rats and crooks and hasn't held back on bit. 'Hugo Chavez, the Saudi royal family, the leaders of Iran,' he said. 'How about the countries that end with 'stan'? Nigeria? You tell me. Sheiks, rats, crooks, dictators, sure.'"
Calling Hugo Chavez a "dictator" is harmful, irresponsible and deserves our strongest condemnation! Hugo Chavez has been DEMOCRATICALLY-elected three times (one was a recall referendum). Each of these elections were observed by myriad election observers from around the world.
The Organization of American States and the Carter Center held a joint press conference proceeding the recall election. OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria and Nobel Peace Prize winner and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter declared: "electoral observation mission's members had found no element of fraud in the process." In fact, several observers commented that the elections in Venezuela were much more legitimate than those in the U.S. (Florida 2000/Ohio 2004).
Interestingly, what people admire about Chavez and Schweitzer is their tough talk. However, a rational analysis of their rhetoric would bare extremely different results. For one, a rational observer would see that Chavez bothered to check his facts before commenting, while Gov. Schweitzer's comments would be an impassioned appeal to the prejudices and emotions of uninformed and frightened mass of Americans seeking order and security. The latter's comments more accurately describe the behavior of a dictator!
Gov. Brian Schweitzer clearly cannot mean what he has said on more than one occasion about Hugo Chavez, so we must disregard his comments. The reason he and others cannot have meant what they said is because of the level of deep rascism that it would require to hold this belief. By lumping Hugo Chavez, his majority supporters, the millions of Arab and Muslim people, or anyone who might oppose being treated as cogs in a machine that serves a miniscule minority into one group as "the sheikhs, the dictators, the rats and crooks around the world who are bent on destroying our way of life," is a textbook definition of rascism. This attitude conveniently ignores fact. To find the sheikhs, dictators, rats and crooks one need not look any further than the buried mirror that conveniently denies and defies honest self-reflection!
The overwhelming majority of people in Venezuela support Chavez (approval rating of Chavez is higher than Schweitzer's: 70%). National pride in that country is based in revolutionary missions that are serving a country's essential needs. Hugo Chavez has led a charge to feed, house, educate and medically treat its people. Hugo Chavez has criticized American foreign policy and stood up to ignorance and irrationality in a time of extreme rascism and global crises. Billions of people that suffer the effects of environmental devastation, smash-and-grab mentalities from imperial countries, and a rascist misunderstanding of their situation have found a powerful voice in Hugo Chavez.