As I was browsing through all the high quality, moderately priced items at my local Target the other day, I happened to walk by one of the store’s “associates.”
Actually, a 19-year-old kid, wearing the pre-requisite red T-shirt that Target employees are required to wear as a de facto uniform.
The problem was, this one had a large photo of Che Guevara on it. You know the one……
Now I was annoyed.
And it wasn’t just the fact that this look has become so hip, that it is not hip. I mean if he just had the run of the mill psycho like Ted Bundy or Charles Manson on his shirt, I would have just written it off to shock value.
But I knew this kid was wearing it, like most out there do, as some sort of bold statement of rebellion and revolution.
Missing, of course, the point that Che was a murderer, both literally and figuratively. He oversaw the execution of thousands of Cubans, and personally took part in some of them himself.
In addition, he was a hypocrite and a failure. He claimed to despise money, yet lived in one of the richest and most private areas of Havana.
He served as minister of the economy and promptly ruined the Central Bank. Then once his usefulness to Castro was extinguished, he tried and failed in creating revolutions in Algiers, the Congo, Tanzania, and Bolivia.
It was there that he was finally captured, shouting, “Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead.”
The ultimate irony is that he was in fact summarily murdered himself, in the same style as his victims. No trial, and no mercy.
So, back to the kid at Target. I walked past him, without saying anything.
However, as I thought about it more, I realized that his shirt would be repulsive to someone of Cuban heritage, and should be to the rest of us as well.
I decided to seek out the store manager and complain. An hour later I came back by the store (obviously, I have a lot of time on my hands), and spied the offending associate, but now with his shirt turned inside out.
For a moment I felt triumphant, then old, knowing that I had stifled a youthful rebellion that I had once loved to exude myself at that age.
But as I thought about it more, I realized that I would never have done it with a Che T-shirt, nor a Mao shirt, or Ho Chi Minh shirt. I felt that I did the right thing and it inspired me to create my own T-shirt.
Note: Originally this linked to my Zazzle gallery. However, I was informed by Zazzle that this photo violated copyright laws. It turns out that the family of Alberto Korda (the photographer) has asserted copyright protection for this photo, even though Korda himself was a lifelong supporter of the “Revolution”, and allowed it to be public domain, never asserting any claims for royalties. It seems as if the Capitalist acorns have fallen far from the Communist tree.
I may be old(er), but I still have that rebellious streak in me…..just in a more intelligent way.