Bright young things

Ideological selective memory

Picking up a copy of the International Herald Tribune, Dalrymple alights on an article reprinted from the New York Times on the Dirty War in Argentina. It declares that

the devastation inflicted on a generation is hard to overstate,

and asserts that a large proportion of those who disappeared were

bright and idealistic young people.

Dalrymple comments:

The phrase ‘bright and idealistic young people’ should be sufficient to alert any sensible person to the likelihood that an important aspect of the story is being omitted for ideological reasons (or rather, purposes).

He notes that in pursuit of their ideals, the mistakes that some of these bright young people made included

  • armed robbery
  • widespread kidnap
  • assassination
  • random murder

By the time the army carried out its coup in 1976, Dalrymple notes,

over 3,000 people had been killed in the political violence unleashed by the young idealists. The Dirty War, terrible and unforgivable as it was, did not arise by spontaneous generation.

The part played in the Dirty War by the bright young idealists

should not be forgotten (though it almost always is), for otherwise, the wrong lessons will be learned. Amnesia would be preferable to blatantly ideological selective memory.

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