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Che Guevara, Gay Icon

For some time now, I have been a member-in-good-standing of the Facebook group: "Che Guevara is a PENDEJO." Here is the group's description: For anyone out there who's sick of seeing Che Guevara shirts being worn by idealistic college students … Read More

By / October 11, 2007
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For some time now, I have been a member-in-good-standing of the Facebook group: "Che Guevara is a PENDEJO." Here is the group's description:

For anyone out there who's sick of seeing Che Guevara shirts being worn by idealistic college students and/or simply hates Che Guevara or any other communists for that matter.

We also invite anyone who's sick of hearing "naw man, you got it all wrong, Castro was an asshole but Che had the right idea."

If you're slightly amused by the irony of a Marxist t-shirt being sold and worn in a capitalist system, feel free to join as well.

I was immediately reminded of my association in this august body upon reading Robert Scheer's latest in The Nation (which has a thing for Cuban commies), offering a critical appraisal of Guevara's ideology (apparently it was more sophisticated than "Murdering the bourgeosie," as I had always assumed it to be) and explaining how his CIA-orchestrated assassination has actually proven fortuitous for the left because it turned him into a martyr for the new generation of Latin American leftist leaders to extol. This sentence is emblematic:

Che was restless in post-revolutionary Cuba because his anarchist temperament caused him to bristle at the emerging bureaucracy.

You gotta hand it to Scheer: "Restless" is a pretty good euphemism for "killing people with whom you disagree." Even better is Scheer's whitewashing Guevara's capricious violence as some sort of response to the ineffectiveness of the new Cuban revolutionary government's "emerging bureaucracy." Che's actually a do-it-yourself anti-statist conservative!

One can excuse certain elements of the Left's embrace of totalitarian murderers like Che Guevara because these sorts of folks have always had a hard time coming to grips with thugs preaching a "progressive" ethos. Bashing the Left for loving Che is nothing new. But more troubling among the apologists for Guevara (and the Cuban revolution, more generally) is the lack of acknowledgment of what the Cuban Communists did to homosexuals–that other, oppressed minority which supposedly owes its salvation to the Left, along with the "working classes."

In 1960, just a year after coming to power, Guevara's glorious revolution established forced labor camps (actual gulags, not the fake one of Amnesty International's imagination) for any and all assortment of undesirables. This is how Alvaro Vargas Losa tells it (his article is entitled, by the way, "The Killing Machine," which confirms Scheer's impression that Guevara was indeed just "restless" with the ineffectiveness of the Cuban government's ability to violently suppress dissent):

This camp was the precursor to the eventual systematic confinement, starting in 1965 in the province of Camagüey, of dissidents, homosexuals, AIDS victims, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Afro-Cuban priests, and other such scum, under the banner of Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción, or Military Units to Help Production. Herded into buses and trucks, the “unfit” would be transported at gunpoint into concentration camps organized on the Guanahacabibes mold. Some would never return; others would be raped, beaten, or mutilated; and most would be traumatized for life, as Néstor Almendros’s wrenching documentary Improper Conduct showed the world a couple of decades ago.

The Communist Cuban regime's treatment of homosexuals was most famously recounted in Reinaldo Arenas's Before Night Falls, the film version of which cast Johnny Depp as a transvestite who smuggled Arenas's prison diaries off the island via his amazingly stretchable…well, you get the picture. Scheer offers a few drips and drabs of qualified criticism about Che's legacy. "Fortunately," he writes, Latin America's new crop of leftist thugs "differ from Che in preferring the ballot to the gun," (just wait until Hugo Chavez loses an election). But you know the left is lost when it is still able to glorify and explain away the crimes of a murderer of homosexuals.

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