In a recent Twitter exchange, Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA) caused an uproar with a suggestion on how to handle an illegal immigrant charged with assaulting police officers. Responding to a colleague’s post regarding six immigrants released on bail, Collins made a disturbing reference to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and his notorious tactics.
Rather than quoting Collins directly, it is important to note that his comment alluded to the controversial practice of “death flights,” which were favored during Pinochet’s regime and other right-wing Latin American dictatorships. These extrajudicial killings involved throwing dissidents, primarily communists, out of planes or helicopters, often into bodies of water or remote locations.
Unsurprisingly, left-wing figures were quick to condemn Collins, accusing him of advocating for the extrajudicial killing of political opponents. MSNBC host Chris Hayes took to Twitter, expressing his dismay at a sitting member of Congress proposing such methods.
While Collins faced criticism, he also found support among right-wing commentators who found his post amusing. Fellow congressman Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) defended Collins, emphasizing the concern over an unauthorized person assaulting a police officer.
The reference to death flights evoked a dark chapter in Chilean history. Former President Ricardo Lagos revealed in 2001 that at least 120 dissidents had been disposed of in such a manner, thrown from helicopters into Chilean bodies of water. Although death flights were more prevalent under the Argentine junta, right-wing online spaces have connected them with the Pinochet regime.
Augusto Pinochet is a divisive figure, celebrated by some right-wing circles for his efforts to stabilize Chile and suppress communist movements. However, his rule was marred by human rights abuses, with an estimated 3,000 people losing their lives during his 17-year dictatorship.
The controversy sparked by Rep. Mike Collins serves as a reminder of the sensitivities surrounding discussions on immigration, political dissent, and the dark past of certain dictatorial regimes. It underscores the importance of mindful and respectful rhetoric in public discourse.
Q: What was the controversy surrounding Rep. Mike Collins?
A: Rep. Mike Collins caused controversy with a suggestion on how to handle an illegal immigrant charged with assaulting police officers, referring to the controversial practice of “death flights” used by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Q: What were “death flights”?
A: “Death flights” were extrajudicial killings favored by right-wing Latin American dictatorships, including Pinochet’s regime in Chile. Dissidents, primarily communists, were thrown out of planes or helicopters into bodies of water or remote locations.
Q: How did left-wing figures respond to Collins’ comment?
A: Left-wing figures condemned Collins, accusing him of advocating for the extrajudicial killing of political opponents. MSNBC host Chris Hayes expressed his dismay on Twitter.
Q: Was there any support for Collins?
A: Yes, right-wing commentators, including Congressman Sen. J.D. Vance, found Collins’ post amusing and showed support for him. Vance emphasized the concern over an unauthorized person assaulting a police officer.
Q: Who was Augusto Pinochet?
A: Augusto Pinochet was a former Chilean dictator who ruled for 17 years. He is a divisive figure, celebrated by some right-wing circles for stabilizing Chile and suppressing communist movements, but his rule was marred by human rights abuses.
– Illegal immigrant: a person who enters, resides, or works in a country without legal authorization.
– Assault: a physical attack causing harm or injury.
– Dictator: a ruler who has complete control and authority over a country, typically gained and maintained by force.
– Extrajudicial: actions taken outside of the legal system or without due process.
– Communist: a person who supports or advocates for a political theory or system based on the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes.
– Dissidents: individuals who oppose or criticize the policies or actions of a government or authority.
– Rhetoric: the effective use of language to communicate and persuade.