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1960- Portrait of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Cuban revolutionary leader, sitting at a desk.

He killed hundreds of people with his own hand. He forced homosexuals into labor camps, compared himself to the Son of God, and threw racial epithets at blacks in Cuba and beyond. Ernesto Guevara de la Serna “Che” – an articulate, intelligent, educated Marxist — evolved over the years into a martyred hero to the cause of equality for South American Hispanics. But his wild visage and rugged good looks that now grace T-shirts, posters, and colorful murals belie the real Guevara: a ruthless, calculated, power-hungry, and wealth-embracing communist.

GettyImages-82091825 Che Guevara

Photo by Imagno/Getty Images)

Former prince Harry has been spotted wearing a Guevara-themed shirt, and Rapper Jay-Z and Super Bowl legend Tom Brady’s wife Giselle have sported the popular Che image across their chests. What’s not to love and admire if you are an American progressive?

Kids These Days

American progressives are a mixture of old ‘60s radicals and a new breed of young activists who seek the Utopia that socialism and communism would bring to this capitalist country. Some have wealth – either from working the last 50 years or being blessed with a stable financial foundation. Many are Caucasian, attempting to right the wrongs their ancestors imposed on Americans of color. A noble idea. And they have chosen Che as the face of rebellion and revolution, which might be counterproductive. It is almost as ludicrous as if solid Marxists would allow their revolution to be sponsored by millionaires and not “the people.”

An educated man from middle-class beginnings, Guevara carefully chronicled his life in journals that were eventually published after his execution in Bolivia in 1967. But, unfortunately, his eloquent and often reprehensible words are gobbled up by those in the progressive movement like a Jell-O pudding cup. But, of course, without context, most have likely been wildly misinterpreted by today’s political warriors. Or have they?

Some of Che’s most quotable phrases make him out to be a righteous champion for the oppressed. But how does he go from saying, “Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world,” to admitting he did not stop executions to determine if people were, in fact, innocent.

“Injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world” did not include the persecution of gays or black-skinned Cubans: Che succeeded in relegating them to second-class citizens when he and Castro overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista on July 26, 1953. That is if they survived. Humberto Fontova, the author of Exposing the Real Che Guevara, revealed on Fox News: “The regime that Che Guevara co-founded is the only one in modern history in the Western Hemisphere to have herded gays into forced labor camps.” And Che himself penned: “those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of an affinity with bathing.” Fontova added perspective, “Many of the people Che was sending to the firing squad were members of Batista’s army, and these disproportionately tended to be black and mulatto. Batista himself was mulatto.”

The man opposed a free press and threatened the life of a news reporter who dared to write: “When Che Guevara first arrived in Havana, he moved into the biggest, most luxurious mansion in the city.” His words and deeds – or misdeeds — were a dizzying array of contradictions.

Does that fall in line with today’s progressives, crying out for racial reparations and inclusivity for LGBTQ in all walks of a community? The obvious answer is no. How do you reconcile the armed violence perpetrated by Guevara with calls to rescind the Second Amendment? You simply don’t. Perhaps a reminder of the brutality of Guevara’s actions is needed.

What Do You Believe?

Che Guevara was a prominent communist and a legendary figure in South America, and his exploits continue to enchant the radical left in the United States. In life, he was a tall, rugged, handsome folk hero. In death, he has been elevated to sainthood. In his immortal words, “I will fight with all the weapons within my reach rather than let myself be nailed to a cross or whatever.” And yet, it appears that is precisely what he did not do. His final revolutionary act was in Bolivia, where a battle-fatigued Guevara simply surrendered. And, without trial, as was his modus operandi, he was summarily executed.

As an icon for change – especially in the American political climate – Guevara simply does not seem to fit. Or does he?


Read more from Sarah Cowgill.

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