I can only define what follows as jaw-dropping political obscenity. In response to those who criticize a possible civic stature of Che Guevarra in the Irish community from which his forebears came, there is this defense of this hero of clueless students and pseudo-revolutionaries.
While it might seem extreme to equate Che with abominations like Stalin or Pol Pot, it's equally disingenuous to paint him as some whiter-than-white superhero. The man had serious flaws and committed some dreadful acts. The question is, were those acts justified? He used and advocated remorseless political violence. He proselytised for global Marxist revolution -- a stark ideology, now thoroughly discredited.
He disagreed with most of the tenets of democracy: properly free elections, due process, private property ownership. He was damned for ordering the execution of hundreds of Batista supporters, although many, it was alleged, were guilty of war crimes.
Che declared, chillingly: "To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail... A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate."
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Yes, Che was ruthless and fanatical and sometimes murderous. But was he a murderer? No, not in the sense of a serial killer or gangland assassin. He was one of those rare people who are prepared to push past ethical constraints, even their own conscience, and bring about a greater good by doing terrible things.
Whether morally justifiable or not, there is something admirable in that -- pure principle in a world of shabby compromise. Maybe this is why Che remains such an icon, both in image and idea.
The problem, of course, is that while writer Darragh McManus wants to differentiate Che from Stalin, is that really possible? The Russian dictator’s excesses could be written off with the same excuse – he was “one of those rare people who are prepared to push past ethical constraints, even their own conscience, and bring about a greater good by doing terrible things.” For that matter, the same malignant justification could be used to whitewash Hitler – didn’t he believe he was trying to “bring about a greater good by doing terrible things”?
But even if you set aside the great monsters of the twentieth century – Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot – it is possible to find other historical parallels to this revolutionary so esteemed by the Left. My example would be Robespierre, whose deeds in the interest of furthering the French Revolution resulted in the execution of even children for the crime of having been born into the wrong family. Virtually alone among the major figures of the French Revolution, he is for the most part unmemorialized in France. Indeed, the era he presided over is rightly known as “the Terror”. Even those who view his motives sympathetically are forced to acknowledge the essential wrongness of his heeds. I’d argue that it is only appropriate to classify Che (and the Castro brothers) similarly, and to therefore reject the celebration of the Cuban Revolution. Those who do otherwise are clearly suffering from a politically motivated moral psychosis, and merit being treated as ideological lepers by men and women of good will who support and celebrate human freedom.