It is of course the case that many Leftists will rationalise just about every one of these negative Che-facts; just as contemporary Nazis do about Hitler. Leftists, such as Seumas Milne of the Guardian, have also rationalised/justified the actions of Stalin: the Gulag, the Jew-hatred, the various purges and all sorts. Leftists have also rationalised/justified the actions of Mao. Chomsky even rationalised/justified the actions of Pol Pot and the Khymer Rouge.
Many of the writers who highlighted these Che-facts also rationalised/justified (all of) Che’s actions. Paedophiles and serial killers often rationalise their actions too.
Why are the leftists (as well as the Nazis and paedophiles) rationalising what is so obvious wrong?
1) When Che was fighting his revolutionary war in the forests of Bolivia, his Bolivian and Cuban fighters hated each other and were constantly fighting. His men also squabbled over food, accused each other of malingering and of stealing each other’s – and communal - possessions.
2) Che often kidnapped, and held hostage, Bolivian and other Latin American peasants and Indians, including old women.
3) Throughout his various campaigns Che never had the support of the highland peoples and peasants of Latin America. Then again, he never had the support of city or town workers either because he never got as far as Latin American towns or cities. He did have the support of many upper-middle-class fellow revolutionaries as well of millions of white middle-class students.
4) When fighting – or whatever it was he did – in Bolivia, Che didn’t even have the support of Bolivian Communists. Indeed, despite the hype, he never had the full support of his friend, Fidel Castro. He even eventually renounced his Cuban citizenship.
5) Like virtually every other ‘revolutionary leader’, or every other ‘Marxist radical’, he was thoroughly middle-class – actually, again just like Lenin, Trotsky, Alexander Theodore Callinicos (SWP/UAF Central Committee aristo), Charlie Kimber (SWP/UAF CC aristo), etc. Che was of (Argentinian) aristocratic lineage; though his family had sunk down to the upper-middle-class.
6) Che was not always a ‘guerrilla fighter’. After the Castro victory of 1959, he controlled and run the ‘revolutionary purge trials’. He became President of the National Bank of Cuba and then became Cuba’s Minister of Industries. Before he became a bigwig in the Cuban state, he was feared as being one of the most extreme Marxists in the business; a person who was brilliant at persecuting ‘spies’ and ‘traitors’ in his own ranks.
7) Maradona, the soccer player, has a tattoo of Che’s face on his right bicep. Hip. However, a Swiss watch company, Swatch, produced a limited edition of watches featuring Che’s face set against a red background. Not so hip. One writer said that “Che’s face alone inspired millions of young people” – to do what? That is meant to be a positive. The Cult-of-the-Che-T-Shirt is one of the most vacuous and hip ‘political stances’ there’s ever been. Millions of young people have never really gone a single step beyond his handsome face and the de-rigour t-shirt. What would the case have been like if Che had been an ugly bastard?
8) Che, when helping Cuba, was an extremely strong friend of the Soviet Union and many other State-Communists; even more so than Fidel Castro. He set up diplomatic ties with Krushnev, Chairman Mao and Tito. Indeed his secret talks with Krushnev paved the way for the installation of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. I wonder what the ‘peaceniks’, like the CND - and other hipsters who wore Che t-shirts - thought of that?
9) Che actually wanted the United States to intervene in Latin America. For example, in Bolivia. Che believed that US action “would have inflamed … many Latin American countries”. So much for “Yankees out!” More like: Yankees in!
10) Che was a chronic asthmatic who often had to be put on a mule and led around by his fellow revolutionaries.
11) Che had a thing for violence and the Marxist, quasi-religious romanticisation of it. He once wrote a letter to his mother saying how much he loved blowing things up and killing people. (No doubt ‘traitors’, ‘reactionaries’, ‘Islamophobes’…. oh, sorry, wrong period.) He said that he wanted to create “two, three, many Vietnams”. Didn’t the peaceniks and the left think that the Vietnam War was a hellhole of slaughter and “needless destruction”? He called for “a long, cruel war”. He also said: “Now is the hour of the furnaces, and only light should be seen.”