, half-lame little Josep
Jughashvili grew up to be the
terrible and terrifying Joseph
mass murderer, diabolical titan. His stat-
ues once dotted town squares throughout
the Communist world, but these days his
memory is burnished mostly in his home-
town of Gori, Georgia.
That’s where the Stalin Museum is
lovingly tended—at least it was a few
years ago, when I visited it—by an elder-
ly lady who is not current with revisionist
history. When she gives you a tour of the
Stalin Museum, she pronounces the word
“Stalin”—I don’t speak Georgian, but the
word “Stalin” sounds the same in every
language—with a breathy, passionate
voice and uplifted eyes. It’s clear that her
Stalin and your Stalin are not the same
But when she shows you around the
perfectly preserved private rail car that
Stalin used throughout his reign, and
points out his favorite leather club chair—
hair-oil stains still visible, small cigarette
burn holes in the arms—you both instinc-
tively shudder. He sat
, you think to yourself. Stalin, half a
century later, is still a very scary guy.
During the absurd pageant that is U.N.
Week in New York, as rotund, pie-faced
Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez wad-
dled around the General Assembly room
and creepy Iranian president Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad strutted through the hall-
ways, it was hard not to think back on that
leather club chair and wonder,
are these new guys?
Modern dictators come in three basic
flavors. The first, the Temporary Emergen-
cy type—your Pinochets, your Stroess-
ners—are mostly colorless functionaries.
They aren’t statue-building egomaniacs,
but grim-faced military law-and-order
guys who emerge to fill a power vacuum.
High on secret police and discreet acts
education is a drain on their resources.
Yet while special-education services do
impose costs on schools, most states pro-
vide substantial additional revenue for
each diagnosed student; in many cases,
this more than covers the cost. Further,
not everything spent on disabled students
is an expense. For instance, schools
might already offer group instruction
focused on reading skills to students who
are behind. If they’re regular-enrollment
students, it comes out of the school’s bud-
get. But if those students are diagnosed
with an SLD, the services are subsidized
by the state and federal governments. So
while the school’s costs might not change
significantly because of SLD diagnoses,
its revenue would.