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« Abominable. | WILLisms.com | The Babe Theory Goes To Kuwait. »

CHE = WAY LAME: "...being impaled by a Bolshevik isn't pretty."

Bridget Johnson, a.k.a. "GOP Vixen," writing in OpinionJournal, has a great piece on Hollywood's unfortunate love affair with Ernesto "Che" Guevara:

Annoying as the Che adulation is, a recent comment by a 14-year-old on an online movie message board was truly disturbing: "I just saw The Motorcycle Diaries, which further made me question: Why is communism bad? . . . Young people are told how bad communism is, but we are not told why. . . . The Motorcycle Diaries showed me how Ernesto Guevara wanted to help people. . . . But this did not explain why he was such a 'bad' person and apparently deserved to be murdered by the U.S."

Is this a legacy of dangerous ignorance that the makers of "Che" wish to continue? Might this teen be taught that the product of Guevara and Castro's "revolution" is a nation whose inhabitants still risk their lives to escape--and an estimated one-third die trying? A nation where neighbor spies on neighbor, where dissent lands one in the clink--or worse--and persecution is punishment for everything from religion to homosexuality?


Che Guevara['s] ...legacy includes both ordering and conducting executions and founding forced labor camps. "Guevara . . . quickly gain[ed] a reputation for ruthlessness; a child in his guerrilla unit who had stolen a little food was immediately shot without trial," writes Pascal Fontaine in "The Black Book." Guevara also wrote in his diary about executing peasant Eutimio Guerra, a suspected informant, with a single .32-caliber shot to the head. Guevara, in his will, praised the "extremely useful hatred that turns men into effective, violent, merciless, and cold killing machines." He tried to spread the havoc caused by the Cuban revolution in other countries from Africa to South America, rallying for "two, three, many Vietnams!"

Guevara oversaw executions at La Cabana prison; some of those executed were his former comrades who wouldn't relinquish their democratic beliefs. "To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary," he said. He didn't assuage his barbarity by being a brilliant statesman, either, helping drive the economy to ruin as head of Cuba's central bank and minister of industries. "Though claiming to despise money," writes Fontaine, "he lived in one of the rich, private areas of Havana." Guevara told a British reporter after the Cuban Missile Crisis that the nukes would have been fired if they were under Cuban control--which would have wasted all of those future American suburban revolutionary wannabes.

This touched off a mini blogswarm.

Dean's World has this great take on Che:

Oh thank you Che! You helped replace a brutal thug named Batista with an even more brutal thug named Castro! And in the process you helped make the poor of Cuba even poorer, helped further suppress free speech, and were proud to institutionalize torture and terror for everyday Cubans! On top of all those glorious things, you wrote poetry!

Che, you looked so handsome and dashing on your motorcycle! But you were even more handsome and dashing when you were terrorizing Cuban peasants, blowing their skulls to bits with your personal sidearm! You romantic Stalin-loving poet you!

Professor Chaos (via The Jawa Report), meanwhile, coins a great new term for preppy Che-lovers:

I'm seeking suggestions as to how I should deal with a student who is very smart, quite leftist, who has a Che Guevara patch on his backpack -- and yet shows up to class wearing a Polo sweater? I suppose I could just call him Che Lauren, but maybe that's too obvious. Let me know if you can think of a way to tease this kid without being too harsh.

Viva la Revolucion! (unless of course it interferes with my yoga)

Cuban Val Prieto, at Babalu Blog, believes "The New McCarthyism Stems From Hollywood":

I wont editorialize any further on Hollywood's love for dictators and murderous Marxists. All I will say is that they would be hardpressed to express any of their "artistic freedoms" in a country like Cuba, whose government sees the stifling of individuals' freedom as the number one priority.

There's more on the romanticized version of Che in Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus, at National Review, including this letter from a reader:

Everyone (except me) immediately jumped in and started raving about what a great country Cuba was, compared with the U.S.: better health care, lower infant mortality, and the music!!! Plus, Fidel, Che, and the revolutionaries — how romantic!

If I hadn't been reading NR and NRO, I might have just checked out. But I paid attention. Specifically, I watched how the Cuban couple reacted to these statements.

To put it mildly, the look on their faces was one of disbelief.

Earlier comments by Jay Nordlinger on "Che Chic":

Listen to what Lincoln Diaz-Balart, the Miami congressman, has to say about Che... : "Guevara was an Argentinian loser who alleged he was a doctor even though he couldn't give a simple flu shot. 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. Viva Cristo Rey! ("Long Live Christ the King!") they would sometimes yell.

Remember this, too: Guevara founded the labor-camp system, in which countless Cubans — judged "deviant" by the regime — would suffer and die. This is the Cuban gulag; it is Che's legacy....

It could be that the '60s liberals will never give Guevara up, no matter how much they know. They have too much invested in him. It would be like turning their backs on themselves, or smashing their Beatles LPs.

We at WILLisms.com believe that there ought to be a response to all those Che t-shirts. They are simply everywhere, on everyone, from celebrities such as Carlos Santana at the Oscars, to hundreds of thousands of suburban revolutionaries around the country.

Many kids wear these ubiquitous Che shirts without really knowing what they mean.

Personal experience:

I was at the mall recently, when I spotted a kid, no more than 11 or 12 year old, purchase a Che shirt from one of those t-shirt kiosks.

I went over to him and asked him, "why did you buy that shirt?"

Kid: "Because it's cool."

Me: "Do you know who that is on the t-shirt?"

Kid: "The Doors?"

He thought it was Jim Morrison, from The Doors. Jim Morrison!


In our Gift Shop, at cafepress.com, we had (as in formerly) merchandise with this image on it (a thumbnail version):


It's Che. With a Groucho Marx look, the glasses, the nose, the eyebrows and moustache. Get it? Che, the Marxist? And he's lame. It says it right there. Moderately funny, at least, but more importantly, it makes a statement.

Apparently this image was against the policies of cafepress.com, our gift shop, which is unfortunate.

The above image breaks absolutely no American copyright law (which is derived from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution), as it falls under "fair use" rules. It is both parody and important social commentary, important aspects of the "fair use doctrine."

Still, because of a lawsuit in a British court a few years back, cafepress.com goes out of its way to avoid litigation against it. They made the image "pending," which just means it cannot be used.

The photographer who snapped the famous image, Alberto Diaz Gutierrez, or "Korda" (now passed away), joined Cuba Solidarity Campaign's copyright infringement suit five years ago against Absolut Vodka in London's High Court and won:

"As a supporter of the ideals for which Che Guevara died, I am not averse to its reproduction by those who wish to propagate his memory and the cause of social justice throughout the world," he said. "But I am categorically against the exploitation of Che's image for the promotion of products such as alcohol, or for any purpose that denigrates the reputation of Che."

Well, we care all about "social justice," but our definition does not overlap much with the socialists' definition. But, honestly, what Gutierrez wanted before he died doesn't matter. In the United States, we are allowed to use a famous image of someone like Che and alter it to make a political statement. If we want to denigrate the reputation of Che (and boy does his reputation deserve denigration), we are allowed to do so.

That's part of what makes this country so great.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 March 2005 03:40 PM


I didn't know communists were such big fans of intellectual property rights.

Posted by: GaijinBiker at March 31, 2005 12:13 AM

And that is one of the bigger ironies in the whole thing.

Posted by: Will Franklin at March 31, 2005 12:18 AM

My husband wore his WILLisms.com shirt to the office today! He had alot of people ask about it. They really liked it!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at March 31, 2005 08:04 PM