Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Cult of Che

The title of this book makes me laugh:

I understand the anger of a Cuban refugee turned U.S. stomper. Really, the problem with people is that they insist on seeing things as black or white. Rarely, if ever, are things so easy.

Just because Castro is a corrupt dictator, that does not make Ernest “Che” Guevara guilty by association. Just because Che was a part of the Cuban revolution does not make him a brilliant or even competent guerrilla. Just because Che’s campaigns to stir shit up in Africa and Bolivia failed miserably does not make him a poor guerrilla. Just because Castro is a bastard does not mean he was a bad revolutionary (just a lair). Just because Che presided over trails and ordered executions does not make him… wait, yes, it does make him a murderer. And there are some who claim he personally pulled the trigger more than enough times. Regardless, the cult of Che is certainly a complex subject, one worthy of investigation. Where you fall on the spectrum surely says quite a lot about your politics, but no one can deny the importance of Che as a historical figure.

My favorite bit from the reviews on Amazon is where some woman says that the Castro regime is better than the Batista one, likening it to Stalin vs. Hitler, saying that Hitler was worse. Well, if we’re counting bodies, maybe not. Anyone living under Stalin would’ve run to Hitler. Anyway, it’s so relative and arguable that these blanket claims insult all of us. And no one (except the U.S. Government, maybe) can claim that Batista wasn’t a dictator, but that doesn’t mean that Castro isn’t one either. Both took over power aggressively and both held onto that power tightly. Both are/were murderous bastards. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Anyway, I’m not sure where I fall on Che Guevara. I do think that he and Castro are idolized way out of proportion by left-leaning academics, though the symbol of Che certainly means different things to different cultures, and I can, therefore, understand the malleability of Che as an icon. I do think having his face on T-shirts is a little silly, mostly because I tend to believe that most of the white kids I see wearing those shirts really have but an inkling of who the man was.

Anyway, I like the title of this book, though a quick read-through will probably suffice—like the way I approach Anne Coulter’s works (if you can call them that). I know the point already and I can’t get past the heavy bias.