I’m not a big boxing fan. The idea of two grown men beating the shit out of each other as people make money off their blood…I guess it goes against my (semi)pacifist tendencies. But I gotta admit — I do like Manny Pacquiao.
Maybe it’s how he smiles throughout the whole fight, or how he carries the Phillipines (and half the Third World) on his back, or how he just dominates his sport with ease. Whatever the case, I found myself in a living room full of Pinoys watching the Pacquiao-Cotto fight this past Saturday. Needless to say, this was a loud, proudly partisan crowd. As it became clear by the 6th or 7th round that Pac-Man was going to win, we started a little game: “Who else would you like to see Pacquiao fight?”
We started with other athletes, then movie stars, then finally…world wholesale nba jerseys dictators. This was where it got really interesting. We made a couple guidelines, namely that they had to be post-WWII (no Hitler, Stalin, ravaged etc), but they did NOT have to be currently alive. Obviously there’s plenty worthy (meaning atrocious) contenders for consideration. That said, let me present my choices for…
The Top 10 Dictators I’d Pay to See Pac-Man to Whoop in the Ring
10. Rafael Trujillo (ruled the Dominican Republic, 1930-1961): The first leader deserving a royal beatdown, if you don’t know about Trujillo, just read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. Dude ruled the DR with an iron fist for 3 decades, with thousands of innocent and dissident citizens imprisoned and killed by his secret wholesale nba jerseys police known as the SIM. He was all about the cult of personality, aka Trujillo-worship, and basically hated on anything, or anyone, Haitian (meaning black).
9. Mao Zedong (China, 1949-1976): Some on the Left might hate me for putting him on the list, but let’s be honest: Mao needed to get knocked out. No doubt he deserves credit for leading the 1949 Revolution and creating alternative economic models that helped millions of Chinese. But…he also created the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, which led to famine, imprisonment, and political purges that caused the deaths of as many as 50 million people. Enough said.
8. Francisco Franco (Spain, 1936-1975): Just so y’all know, these dates are not when these dictators lived…they are when they RULED. Franco came to power in the 30s, around the same time as Hitler and Mussolini, when he crushed the ruling socialist government of Spain. The difference between wholesale jerseys him and those guys: he STAYED in power for 4 decades. A straight-up fascist, he used censorship, torture, and his anti-Communist alliance with the U.S. to remain El Presidente until his death.
7. Kim Il-Sung (North Korea, 1949-1994) and Kim Jong Il (1994-present): This is two-against-one, but something tells me Pacquiao would hold his own. And these dudes deserve it: Kim Il-Sung was the longest-ruling dictator of the 20th century…and then he passed on the crown of death to his son Kim Jong Il. Between the two of them, they have starved and repressed millions of their own people.
6. Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-1979): He had the shortest rule of anyone on this list, but in his four years, Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge enacted a system of slave labor, malnutrition, forced migrations, and executions that resulted in the deaths of almost 2 million people – about 1 out of every 5 Cambodians. Many of my students are the children of Cambodian refugees (and other places on this list) — they’ve told me stories no child should tell.
5. Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire/Democratic Republic of Congo, 1965-1997) – This man changed not just his own name (from Joseph-Désiré Mobutu to the seven word Mobutu Sésé Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga), he changed the country’s…from the Congo to Zaire. So it remained for 31 years, as Mobutu personally exploited the natural resources of central Africa and consolidated power by publicly executing political rivals. His policies helped lead to the genocide in neighboring Rwanda and the ongoing civil war in his own country that has taken the lives of millions of people.
4. Ariel Sharon (Israel, 2001-2006) / Hosni Mubarak (Egypt, 1981-present) / Saddam Hussein (Iraq, 1979-2003) / etc.: I want Manny Spinning to take out ALL the dictators of this region, but let’s start with the “only democracy in the Middle East”: Israel. Much of the world doesn’t call Sharon “president” but rather the “Butcher of Beirut” – the man who committed war den crimes at Sabra and Shatila, who built a wall in the West Bank, and denied as much land and rights as he could to the Palestinians. Mubarak isn’t any better, denying any democratic rights to Egyptians while wholesale nfl jerseys enforcing the Nothing southern half of the blockade on Gaza. As Duracell for Saddam…besides gassing his own people (it did happen), my feeling is that if Pacquiao could have knocked him out with one punch back in the 80s, then we wouldn’t have had two George Bushes sending in the U.S. army to kill thousands of people and take over in Iraq’s oil in the name of getting Saddam.
3. Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1974-1990): The perpetrator of the original 9/11, this right-wing punk (with active support from the CIA) led a coup d’état which put an end to Salvador Allende’s democratically-elected government. From then on, Pinochet criminalized dissent, killing and disappearing thousands of Chileans, forcing many more into exile. He also used the crisis to implement IMF-supported neoliberal policies of privatization and hypercapitalism – check Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine.
2. Ferdinand Marcos (Phillipines, 1965-1986): This was BY FAR the most popular choice among the Filipino crowd watching the fight. What better dictator for Pacquiao to knock off his pedestal than the guy who led his own country into authoritarian corruption, despotism, and massive human rights violations? And it was his people who brought him down: the People Power Revolution of 1986 forced Marcos into exile, but not before he and his wife Imelda had embezzled billions of dollars of public funds to his private bank accounts. What could possible top Pacquiao getting justice with left hook right into Marcos chin? Well…
1. Ronald Reagan (U.S.A., 1981-1989) — Depending on who you are, this is either a total shock….or Silent: not at all. While not technically a dictator inside the U.S., Reagan (like many of his American predecessors and followers) still ruled much of the world undemocratically, oppressing and killing countless innocent people. His radical conservative economic policies, aka “Reaganomics,” reduced regulation of corporations, cut taxes for the rich and government spending for the poor, and basically laid the groundwork for the global recession we’re in right now. He bombed Libya, spearheaded the Iran-Contra affair, introduced crack to the streets of American cities…and he invaded Grenada. That country has a population of 110,000 – that’s basically a small neighborhood in Brooklyn. A bully like that needs to beat up.
So there it is. Pacquiao vs. Reagan as my # 1. Don’t agree with the order of the list? Should someone else be in there? My goal here is not to trivialize these men and the atrocities they committed, but rather to remember that authoritarianism everywhere needs to be opposed — and in some cases, knocked out in 7 rounds. So put a name in the ring — that’s what the comment box is for…
* And just to bolster my top selection, let’s watch this clip: the very first minute from the first episode of The Boondocks: