18 October 2006

The Last King of Scotland: An all-too-familiar glimpse into the psyche of a dictator

I recently saw the new film The Last King of Scotland. I highly recommend it. This movie gives the viewer a glimpse into the life and psyche of Idi Amin, the charming but ruthless dictator who was responsible for the execution of over 30,000 Ugandan people during his eight-year reign as President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979.

Forest Whitaker gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Amin. He seamlessly shifts Amin's persona from magnetic populist to vengeful tyrant, and back again, repeatedly.

And then you start to read between the lines, and you realize how someone like this, with the right combination of charm, resources, and political backing, can fool the populace into trusting him, into believing he is one of them, and that he wants what's best for the people.

You see how human rights and human dignity start to take a back seat to the leader's personal power agenda.

You see how those who follow without question are rewarded, but how cynics and dissenters start to disappear.

You see torture.

You see horrific examples made of those who "betray" the ruler, those who follow their hearts.

And you start to realize that this could happen anywhere, not just in some distant exotic third-world country.

And then you start to see the parallels in today's world. And in today's USA.

It's a timeless story. Shouldn't we, the voting populace, have learned from it by now?

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