Sunday, September 24, 2006

Forget Che

Since the American left can never find enough nasty, murdering megalomaniacs to toe-suck, the AP gives them their semi-annual Che Guevara paean. Though this one has a good deal more balance than others I've read, it's still giving valuable time and attention to the memory of a man who deserves no more. (And revealingly, though the article is titled, "'Che' Guevara's iconic image endures," the web address for the piece calls it "che_s_mystique_5." Could this be the fifth one this year?!) I imagine the story's been dragged out this time because we're nearing the anniversary of his birth or death, or perhaps Hugo Chevez rings a Pavlovian bell in writer Martha Irvine's mind. "Hey look, a blustering South American loudmouth with dreams of spreading totalitarianism and failed economic policies around the globe! Let's do another piece about Che!"

As usual, the great legacy that keeps Che in our faces is that stupid t-shirt. I hope there's an afterlife, so that he can see what I've seen: two young men strolling hand-in-hand along a Chelsea sidewalk, one of them wearing a Che t-shirt, extra-small, the guy's gym-toned abs rippling beneath Che's pursed lips. Guevara was a vicious homophobe. The only thing better will be the day I sit outside Starbucks on the Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana, sipping an Iced-Che Latte while reading in the Cuban free press about the progress of Castro's trial in the Hague.

In the meantime, if the editors and writers at the Associated Press are so eager to keep doing Che stories, why don't they do one about his penchant for executing dissidents, or the fact that his (and Fidel's) gay-bashing machismo ended up shaping a special police-state apparatus for homosexuals in Cuba, or that once he stepped off Castro's coattails, his armed uprisings failed to achieve anything except making more people dead. Even leftists sometimes admit that Che was a failure in pretty much everything except self-promotion. In 2007 we'll reach our fortieth Che-free year on this planet. Can we resolve to ignore the anniversary and give Ernesto Che Guevara the inattention he deserves? Somehow I doubt it.


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