I keep wondering, what will we do with the GOP when Trump is gone? And, almost as importantly, how will we deal with the memory of Trump’s crimes? The crimes committed by him, and aided and abetted by the Republican Party?
I am not certain, but I think we will have to fight long and hard to keep the memory of those transgressions alive, even after Trump himself is out of office. It is a horrible thing, but memory fades with time enough. Eventually, there appear those for whom the Holocaust did not happen. Eventually, there are those who say that things in Stalin’s day weren’t so bad, and the Holodomor (the engineered famine in Ukraine) did not really happen. Eventually you have fools who say that, all in all, slavery wasn’t so terrible.
I thought of all this because of a recent and very powerful article in the New York Review of Books, Chile: Now More Than Ever, by Ariel Dorfman. In it, Dorfman (who lost friends and family in Allende’s dictatorship), writes about the ongoing effort to keep the memory of the dictator’s crimes alive. First, it was the military and others who benefitted from the regime who wanted to impose on the nation a kind of political amnesia, thus to hide their own crimes. Later, it was capitalism that was the issue, as (for example) real estate developers saw no reason to preserve the sites of atrocities as memorials and museums, when those same plots might instead make excellent parking lots and shopping malls.
But, people like Dorfman continue to fight. They have succeeded beyond, perhaps, their own expectations, as when in 2010 the administration of President Michelle Bachelet opened the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago.
However, they must continue their struggle. Already, a new wave of Right-Wing Populists have appeared in Chile to deny Pinochet’s savageries, or at least to downplay them. The struggle of memory is, thus, never ending.
Which is why, now, even as we continue our own resistance to a would-be Pinochet…a man who has not yet committed the crimes on the same scale as the South America despot, but who would surely do so if he had the chance…we must prepare to remember. We must prepare our archives, our libraries, our annals, our places of memory, and evidence…
So that when the day comes, one will be able to deny the truth…
…and all those guilty will feel its fury.