Why Not Just Wear A Picture Of Hitler?

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.

Hmmm….not looking quite as cool…….!!!

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.

Demonstrators in Latin America, demanding their right to elect someone who will torture and murder them!

  • bohr6

    ”Demonstrators in Latin America, demanding their right to elect someone who will torture and murder them!” yes you are right it would be better to vote for US ”selected” tyrans like Somoza and so on, yes???..so better wash your mouth and think , Latin America is not supposed to be the backyard of the US, So I will wear the Guevara T-Shirts as much as I want, you can keep whining about people not ”liking” the US, so good luck!!

  • Jose

    He stands for the people and that is why he is an image in protests around the globe. The rich and the right dont exactly like that though.

  • stonesthrow4

    I have to step up to the plate here Brian and take a few swings at your analysis. First off, going “all in” by using the Hitler card as the basis for a theory that Che Guevara was equivalent to the former twentieth century despot is strangely absurd. I would also suggest that more people would be quietly offended by your t shirt than the one you encountered on the back of the teenage schmuck in the Target store.
    For the purpose of debate, lets take another t shirt emblazoned with icon – the good ol stars and stripes. Fair to say it symbolizes many admirable qualities
    that countless entities around the world could only hope to aspire. It also represents the dissolution of the first Philippine Republic in 1902. – estimates of 200000 to 1.4 million Filipino dead. The fabricated Gulf of Tonkin incident and subsequent attack on North Vietnam. -1.5 to 4 million Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian dead. It also represents the false WMD’s pretense to attack Iraq. – 115000 Iraqi civilian deaths. What does this have to do with a Che t-shirt in Target?

    One should be careful and not cherry pick or obfuscate history since revisionism is a mere skip away. Ho Chi Minh very much admired the United States and tried to
    ally Vietnam with America since China (the heinous communist country that makes iphones) was such a daunting and at times aggressive neighbor. But the United States said no to Vietnam. You are evil and a communist horde, bombs away. Just think what could have been had the USA accepted Minh’s envoys? If America had said – Cuba you seem to have
    determined your own future, like ourselves. What can you sell us – what do you want to buy? As both the US and Cuba chuckle at how crappy the Soviets products are.
    Che Guevara was on a side, not ideologically agreeable with many, but a side nonetheless, plain and simple. As for the Latin American demonstrators, what’s your poison? – Pinochet or Chavez? Doesn’t really seem to matter does it? – the right courts the rich, the left herds the poor. In the end, the common
    denominator is human madness and intolerance on both “sides”.
    As for the kid back in Target – why didn’t you go up to him and ask what he thought of the icon of rebellion he was wearing? Find out if he had a take on the subject historically or knew what the image meant within popular culture? Send him on his way to look up his expression.

    • I appreciate your analysis, but really you are missing my point completely.

      The point is that the kid wearing the shirt is oblivious to the history of the person on it.

      The Hitler reference is not meant to equate Hitler and Che but to illustrate a point, using the most extreme example for emphasis, that you don’t wear a person or symbol on your shirt in a place of business (or anywhere else if you have common sense and decency) that is responsible for the death and/or torture of people whose relatives are still walking around.

      • stonesthrow4

        Clearly the kid is oblivious, he probably couldn’t finger Cuba on a map – as for missing the point – my volley of the stars and stripes on a t shirt signifies a similar extreme example for some, no? (a faceless version of the USA) and that a whack of Americans are also, by extension, completely oblivious to past transgressions – by using some examples of retarded foreign policy from American governments less than fully thought out actions – quite a number of the world’s folks would like to do more than turn the t shirt inside out. (common sense and decency for example would be to leave Saudi Arabia at the conclusion of the first gulf war) I believe we are carving the same pumpkin with different knives. Just on different sides. enjoy your blog immensely

  • kelkun

    Not sure the Cubans are that offended. Been to Cuba several times, I seem to recall Che t-shirts for sale all over the place. Then again, I’m getting older and my memory sucks, maybe the t-shirts were in the Dominican Republic, or Mexico, or somewhere else. Actually, they’re probably for sale in all touristy countries in the South. Eh…

    • Well chances are that the Cubans still in Cuba would not be as anti-Che as they are the ancestors of the revolution and don’t really have freedom of expression if they didn’t like him.

      Go to Florida and talk to the Cuban ex-pats there and see how they feel about Che.

      Thanks for reading.

      • kelkun

        Good point.

      • stonesthrow4

        I would suspect the British Loyalists who fled to Canada and left their assets and wealth behind after the American Revolution weren’t too keen on George Washington and the gang either – Same shit different day

      • If you are saying that George Washington is the moral equivalent to Che, then I am not really sure where to go after that.

      • stonesthrow4

        lol, no I’m saying that if you time machined the British Loyalists to Florida to hang out and drink mojitos with the Cuban ex pats, they would have similar gripes – dissing the revolutionaries – the parts are always the same – the cast changes.

      • Sunday Gardénia

        Who cares what the sclerotic old Cubans think? This is a Revolution!

      • Yeah. Viva la woot!


  • soolebop

    I agree with nemonullnichts’ comment but I would add that I liken Guevara to Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette. Their lives parallel so symmetrically it’s crazy, yet I doubt you have the same disdain for Lafayette because his efforts helped this country.

    What you don’t get is Guevara represents not just rebellion or revolution but pure courage more than anything.

    He didn’t have to die the way he did. He could be living in Cuba right now just like Fidel but he chose to go and try to liberate Chile. If you look around the world you see many of the conditions that lead to the actions of people like Guevara and Lafayette yet i don’t see any blog posts condemning them.

    So, I respect your view and your opinion is valid but so is that kid’s with the Che shirt on. The same way Che can be considered a murder so can George Washington, so the same way I respect Lafayette, and GW i respect Che… I respect courage..

  • Can you imagine Target selling a white t-shirt with a big red target on the front (or back)

  • nemonullnichts

    Thanks. You’re spot on on Guevara’s hypocrisy, violence, and incompetence. In absolute terms, these are all true. However, I think you might want to clarify the counterfactual on which basis you’re criticizing him (and by extension other revolutionaries.)

    Are we comparing Guevara’s violence in Cuba to Fulgencio Batista’s, the person whom he overthrew? By the US government’s own estimates, he killed tens of thousands of his citizens prior to the actual revolution, one of the main reasons so many Cubans lent Guevara their support, and without which the revolution would certainly have failed.

    This is why I’m lent to disagree with Jay’s reading above, which I think is a pretty popular perspective. Revolutions are almost always brutal periods, whether in the actual moment of transition or in their (usually long) prologues. The transition in government can lead to more or less, successful, competent, and socially beneficial rules in operation. In France, the near term changes where pretty terrible and long term better for most people. In China, arguably both the short and long term were horrific. In Cuba, I tend to think that the short term impact (given the depth of Batista’s own oppression and murderousness in the eyes of his population) wasn’t as catastrophic as the long term enervation of the economy.

    So long answer to say I agree, but would you be willing to venture the same opinion toward Batista, Louis XIV, or other, shall we say, “right leaning” yet equally violent parties whom they deposed? Great blog.

  • Nice Post. All of these so called revolutionaries start out with the noblest of intentions but the power they get from conquest takes over and they are no different than the ones they just deposed. This is the same all through out history.

    1-French Revolution.
    2-Cuban Revolution
    3-China and Mao

    Again Che started out with the noblest of intentions.
    Marxism also missed the point. Its not about class struggle but about the struggle between Corporations Vs. Individual Taxpayers.
    I have read MotorCylcle Diaries. Great Read….Then I read Democracy and American from Tocquville…..Better Read….

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Brian C. Lund

Brian C. Lund

Great father. Good friend. Decent trader/writer. Lacking husband. Solid drummer. Sometimes funny. Often A-hole. Terrible poker player. Too smart. Punk rock. Work in an ice cream shop.

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