Rattling with implications.

Author:Wilson, Robert

Editor's Note - Editorial


Terrorism and torture, those twin nightmares of modern life, seemed before 9/11 to exist, somehow, out there. Terrorism was a Middle Eastern and North African phenomenon, mostly, and torture a South American specialty. Of course neither could really be confined geographically. There were terrorists in Northern Ireland, Italy, and Sri Lanka, and torturers in Iran, North Vietnam, and Uganda. Still, for those of us who remember the 20th century, the terrorist was PLO and the torturer worked for a Latin American military dictator, views reinforced by three offerings in this issue. And yet, because it is no longer possible to think of terrorism or torture as existing at a distance, each of the articles rattles with implications for the here and now.

Consider Bruce Falconer's impressive piece of narrative reporting, "The Torture Colony." It focuses on a truly evil man named Paul Schaefer, a German who moved to Chile in the 1960s with a group of followers and set up a community with the Orwellian name Colonia Dignidad. Orwellian because what Schaefer did there was the opposite of conferring dignity upon his colonists. He sexually abused the children, intimidated the adults both physically and mentally, and taught them to terrorize one another. And when General Augusto Pinochet, an admirer of the Nazi way of doing things, became president of Chile after the military coup in 1973, Schaefer offered his colony not only as a place to torture and disappear Pinochet's Chilean enemies, but also as a school to teach the fine art of torture to his agents.

Leonard Bernstein considered...

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