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Che Trick

The Real
Che Guevara

An essay by
Dr. Douglas Young,
Professor of Political Science
& History at Gainesville
State College

February 10, 2009

Hollywood has dutifully churned
out yet another cinematic agitprop
paean to a leftist “martyr,”
this time Ernesto Guevara.
So let’s recall the real “Che”
and try to discern why many
supposedly democratic,
civil libertarian liberals still
swoon over this Stalinist
The meticulous myth of
Senor Guevara is of a handsome
Argentine heroically helping
Fidel Castro’s guerrillas liberate
Cuba from Fulgencio Batista’s
military dictatorship in 1959.
Then he became a global
revolutionary icon inspiring
the downtrodden to rise
up everywhere,
even personally leading
rebel warriors in the Congo
before being executed doing
the same in Bolivia in 1967.
The (communist) party line
says Che personifies the selfless
humanitarian courageously
fighting for “social justice.”
He’s the Marxists’ martyred
Christ figure replete with pictures
of his half-naked corpse riddled
with bullet holes.
And the classic poster of an
angry young Guevara has
scarred countless college dorm
rooms for over 40 years,
putting a face on the eternally
young rebel for angry
adolescents everywhere.

The real Guevara was a reckless
bourgeois adrenaline-junkie
seeking a place in history as
a liberator of the oppressed.
But this fanatic’s vehicle of
“liberation” was Stalinism,
named for Soviet dictator
Josef Stalin,
murderer of well over
20 million of his own people.
As one of Castro’s top lieutenants,
Che helped steer Cuba’s
revolutionary regime in a
radically repressive direction.
Soon after overthrowing Batista,
Guevara choreographed the
executions of hundreds of Batista
officials without any fair trials.
He thought nothing of summarily
executing even fellow guerrillas
suspected of disloyalty and shot
one himself with no due process.

Che was a purist political fanatic
who saw everything in stark
black and white.
Therefore he vociferously
opposed freedoms of religion,
speech, press, assembly,
protest, or any other rights
not completely consistent
with his North Korean-style
How many rock music-loving
teens sporting Guevara t-shirts
today know their hero supported
Cuba’s 1960s’ repression
of the genre?
How many homosexual fans
know he had gays jailed? 
Did the Obama volunteers in
that Texas campaign headquarters
with Che’s poster on the wall
know that Guevara fervently
opposed any free elections?
How “progressive”
is that? 
How socially just was it that
Che was enraged when the
Russians blinked during the
1962 Cuban missile crisis and
withdrew their nuclear
missiles from the island,
thus averting a nuclear war?
Guevara was such a zealous
ideologue that he relished the
specter of millions of Cuban
lives sacrificed on the altar
of communism,
declaring Cuba
“a people ready to sacrifice
itself to nuclear arms,
that its ashes might serve
as a basis for new societies.”

Che was a narcissist
who boasted that
“I have no house,
wife, children, parents,
or brothers;
my friends are friends
as long as they think
like me, politically.”
This is a role model for
today’s “post-political”
voters claiming we should
get beyond partisanship? 
Adding to the ridiculousness
of the Che cult is that he was
virtually a complete failure.
As a medical doctor,
he never even had a practice.
When put in charge of the
Cuban economy at the start
of Castro’s government,
his uncompromising communist
diktats ran it completely
into the ground,
from which it never recovered.
Humiliated, and also angry
that Castro wasn’t fomenting
enough revolution abroad,
he then tried to lead such
quixotic adventures
in Argentina,
the Congo,
and Bolivia,
failing miserably everywhere
while sacrificing the lives of
scores of naïve, idealistic
young followers as deluded
pawns in the service of his
personality cult. 
Another reason he fled Cuba
in the mid-1960s was the
complete mess he made of
his private life.
Though he preached sexual
purity to his colleagues,
he was a shameless adulterer
who abandoned two wives
and many children,
some legitimate,
others not.
As a grandson put it,
“he was never home.”
The public Che who
supposedly had such great
love for humanity privately
couldn’t stand most folks. 
Guevara’s promiscuous
communist adventurism
was the pattern of a terminal
adolescent running away
from his problems to get
caught up in some heroic
crusade against his
eternal bete noir,
“Yankee imperialism.” 
So why do so many
well-heeled American libs
still admire this thug?
Are the young simply ignorant
of his execrable record and
drawn to the image of the
dashing young rebel?
Do older progressives feel
guilt for their free market
and showing solidarity
with Che absolves them?
Do hippies-turned-yuppies
get nostalgic for their
youthful protests and
rationalize that the symbolism
of Che as a “social reformer”
eclipses his actual horrific
human rights record?
And are some
American Guevaraistas
truly dangerous leftists
who seek to emulate their
icon and destroy our free,
capitalist society?
Ask that guy wearing
the Che t-shirt.


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