Naivete is so Chic
I was driving in to work yesterday morning when I snapped this photo. It appears that the jet set naiveté has trickled down to the masses. It is more than just the ubiquitous T-shirt on the idiot Birkenstocked undergraduate protesting for fair trade coffee. Now the lumpen proles can adorn their van with the latest totalitarian-murder chic. Where are the Mao mud flaps?
There are only two explanations as to why someone would gear-up with the image of Fidel Castro’s willing executioner: a) They know nothing about Ché Guevara outside Robert Redford’s vapid film, The Motorcycle Diaries; or b) they do know and they just don’t care because left wing mass murderers are just soooo cool. Lost down the Orwellian memory hole are Guevara quotes like, “In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm.”
Of course, the real Ché Guevara was more revolutionary bravado than anything. He commanded Cuba’s infamous La Cabaña prison where he personally oversaw the execution (with no due process) of hundreds, possibly thousands of Cubans. For some perspective, Castro’s Cuba imprisoned more people as a percentage of population than Stalin’ Russia and murdered more people as a percent of population than the first three years of Hitler’s Third Reich. When his opponents were imprisoned and unarmed Ché could say things like “I don’t care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting.”
However, what Robert Redford won’t tell you, is that when cornered by Bolivian soldiers, where he was fomenting another glorious revolution—because you know he and Fidel led the poor benighted island to the sunny uplands of history—Ché did indeed care if he fell. All that revolutionary machismo dissappeared as Ché begged his pursuers, “Don’t shoot I’m Ché Guevara, I’m worth more alive to you than dead.”
His final words are interesting because in the ironic ebb and flow of history, Ché is, in fact, worth more dead than alive. While I find the sporting of Ché gear offensive—where are the politically correct thought police when you need them? Oh I forgot—I do find some cheer in the commodification of Ché. Therein lays the sweet irony. The real Ché detested capitalism, now the ignorant and duplicitous alike shell out $20 (preferably on mommy and daddy’s credit card) for a t-shirt or trinket emblazoned his “iconic” image. Lenin once said, “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Well actually he stole the rope (and bullets) with which the Bolsheviks hung and shot their enemies, but that’s another story. However, in the case of Ché, the opposite is true. Capitalists will sell to useful idiots the items which will reinforce their own idiocy.
The folks at Reason Magazine delved into this phenomenon. Especially noteworthy is Grammy award winning Jazz musician and Cuban refugee, Paquito D’Rivera’s juxtaposition of Ché’s actual malice towards artists, and Hollywood set’s cargo cult surrounding him.