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    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    Totalitarian Physicians: Color me uninformed, but I never knew Che Guevara was a doctor. Here are some of his other achievements:

    Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che's imagination. In the famous essay in which he issued his ringing call for "two, three, many Vietnams," he also spoke about martyrdom and managed to compose a number of chilling phrases: "Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become …"— and so on.

    And more:

    What he was good at was killing people, and he became one of history's cruelest serial killers. He was Castro's primary henchman, murdering hundreds of innocent people without due process, usually finishing off the work of the mass-production firing squads with shots to the back of the neck. He was and will always be the most despicable, disgusting figure of the Castro killing machine, the foreigner who was made a serial killer of Cubans by Castro, and got great pleasure from his role."

    Indeed, he did. Guevara, famous as he is — famous as his mug is — is little known. He was, as Diaz-Balart says, Castro's number-one revolutionary thug. He presided over those summary executions at La Cabaña — the old fortress that Guevara commandeered — and he very much enjoyed administering the coup de grâce. He also enjoyed parading people past El Paredón, the reddened wall against which the victims were killed.

    We doctors like to pride ourselves on being humanitarians. But there's also a strong totalitarian streak in our training. Usually, it manifests itself only in mundane things, like bullying our patients about diet, weight, smoking, drinking and exercising. But, there are a disturbing number of doctors who take the totalitarian bent to new heights - Syrian dictators, al Qaeda leaders, Nazi henchmen to name a few. You don't see other professions - except maybe lawyers - going bad so often. Can you think of any totalitarian accountants?

    posted by Sydney on 1/04/2005 08:42:00 AM 0 comments


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