The Devil Was Here

A few days ago, Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, said to the U.N. General Assembly: “Yesterday the devil was here, and the place still smells of sulfur.” He referred to President Bush, who had spoken to the General Assembly the day before.

Now what do you make of a comment like that before the world body? I said to Leslie, it’s sad to hear that, and know that there’s not much to say against it. Here’s a little more to say about it:

In the 1950s and 60s, the leaders of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China used to talk about us that way. They called us the running dogs of capitalist imperialism, and other select phrases. Their rhetoric about U.S. imperialism wasn’t so different from the way Chavez speaks now. The difference is that then, the communists ran concentration camps for political prisoners, used torture to extract confessions, and conquered countries when they thought it served their interests and they were able to do it. The rest of the world observed their behavior and had no doubt who the good guys were in the conflict we called the Cold War. We didn’t care what they called us because we held the high ground and everyone knew it.

Now we’re the ones who run concentration camps for political prisoners, use torture to extract confessions, and conquer countries when we think it serves our interests and we’re able to do it. The rest of the world observes our behavior, and knows that Chavez is right. We’re not the good guys anymore. We should care more than we used to, and more than we do, about what people call us, because it’s true. The devil came here yesterday, and the place still smells of sulfur.

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