After weeks of furious debate, the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College, the CMC Board of Trustees, and President Hiram Chodosh have come to a joint agreement for the removal of the infamous 40-foot-tall statue of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet that stands in front of the Hub.
Echoing a similar debate at Pitzer College last year over the removal of a mural of Ted Kaczynski, discussions over the fate of the Pinochet statue have starkly divided the CMC community. The hotly-contested decision to remove the statue had been stalled for weeks in the Board of Trustees, but the vote was swung in favor of the “yeas” after the sudden death of CMC’s oldest trustee, David Phrenology, who died of an aneurysm after accidentally watching an episode of Netflix’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy reboot.
In a statement following the decision, President Chodosh lauded the statue’s removal, saying “While this statue has been an iconic feature of CMC’s campus for almost two decades, its removal sends a necessary message about the values of our college. While many in our community admire General Pinochet for his responsible stewardship of the Chilean economy, others rightly point out that Mr. Pinochet was brutal: More than 3,000 people were killed by his government and tens of thousands tortured, mostly in his first three years. Thousands of others spent years in exile.”
Some students and faculty were not pleased with this decision, saying that the move amounted to an attack on free speech and dissenting opinion, and others suggested that the statue’s removal demonstrates that CMC is becoming hostile to conservatives.
“I think General Pinochet has been treated very, very unfairly,” said CMC junior Jeremy Fuck. From 1991 to 2006, Chile’s economy grew at twice the regional average, and its poverty rate has been halved. Like it or not, Mr. Pinochet had something to do with this success. He introduced the free-market policies that produced the Chilean economic miracle–and that not even his socialist successors have dared reverse. He also accepted a transition to democracy, stepping down peacefully in 1990 after losing a referendum.”
Professor Robert Bungler, director of CMC’s E. Prince Institute for Necessary Evils, concurred, suggesting that opposition to the statue revealed a double standard against right-wing dictators: “What about Fidel Castro? The left loves Castro, and Mr. Castro also killed and exiled thousands. He also imprisoned or persecuted anyone who suggested Cubans could benefit from freedom of speech or the right to vote.”
Other students were more supportive of the statues’ removal, saying that regardless of policy views, the college should not be celebrating an autocrat.
“I know we won’t always agree politically,” said CMC sophomore Timothy Mallcop, “But that one of the Claremont Colleges would promote an unambiguous endorsement of dictatorship is almost inconceivable.”
All quotes in italics are plagiarized from a 2006 Washington Post Editorial eulogizing Augusto Pinochet, entitled “A Dictator’s Double Standard.” You can read it here!