To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to the Che icon. Whenever I saw it plastered on this t-shirt or that hoodie, I thought of it as a silly (if relatively benign) fad; one that would eventually work its way out of our collective system, no harm done. This was, of course, the opinion of a guy who knew little about Che Guevara and even less about his philosophy. I’m trying to remedy that now. History books to the rescue and all that.
In chapter five of his book Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg gave me this to think about:
That Che Guevara has become a chic branding tool is a disgusting indictment of both American consumer culture and the know-nothing liberalism that constitutes the filthy residue of the 1960s New Left. Ubiquitous Che shirts top the list of mass-marketed revolutionary swag available for sale at the nearest bob chic retailer – including a popular line of children’s wear. Here’s the text for one ad promoting this stuff: “Featured in Time magazine’s holiday web shopping guide, ‘Viva la revolution!’ Now even the smallest rebel can express himself in these awesome baby onesies. This classic Che Guevara icon is also available on a long-sleeve tee in kids’ sizes… Long live the rebel in all of us… there’s no cooler iconic image than Che!”
The Argentine henchman of the Cuban revolution was a murderer and a goon. He penned classically fascist apothegms in his journals: “hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective and cold-blooded killing machine.” Guevara was a better writer, but the same muse helped to produce Mein Kempf. Guevara reveled in executing prisoners. While fomenting revolutions in Guatemala, he wrote home to his mother, “It was all a lot of fun, what with the bombs, speeches and other distractions to break the monotony I was living in.” His motto was “If in doubt, kill him,” and he killed a great many. The Cuban-American writer Humberto Fontova described Guevara as “a combination of Beria and Himmler.” Guevara certainly killed more dissidents and lovers of democracy than Mussolini ever did, and Mussolini’s Italy was undoubtedly more free than any society Guevara the “freedom fighter” was seeking. Would you put a Mussolini onesie on your baby? Would you let your daughter drink from a Himmler sippy cup?
Well, when you put it like that…
Death by Living by N.D. Wilson
I have laughed, I have cried, I have cheered – and I’m barely fifty pages in. This is a beautiful, beautiful book. “Stories mean trouble. Stories mean hardship. The fall of man did not introduce evil; it placed us on the wrong side of it, under its rule, needing rescue. And God is not an aura of ruling auras. His Son is flesh even now. You have flesh. This story is concrete, it is for real, and it is played for keeps.” (I’ll be participating the official Death by Living blog tour later this month; look for my review on the 30th.)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
My third time through. McCarthy is my favorite contemporary novelist, and perhaps my favorite novelist period – but as much as I love and admire the rest of his work, The Road has been, is, and always will be his magnum opus as far as I’m concerned. Seldom is literature more haunting, more gut-wrenching, more powerful than this.
Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg
I’ve followed Goldberg’s writing on the web for some time, but this is the first book I’ve read by him. It hasn’t disappointed. In fact, the next time I hear a liberal throw the word “fascist” around as an insult to his conservative opponents, I may just hand him a copy of this book – a stinging reminder that the original fascists were actually on the left, not the right. Talk about taking the wind out of someone’s sails.
The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield
A biography of the beer that changed the world. Halfway through and enjoying it immensely. I like Douglas Wilson’s endorsement the best: “Pour this book into a frosted glass and enjoy.” While you’re at it, I’d also advise wearing your favorite Guinness t-shirt. Y’know, just because.
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
A remarkable debut effort – chilling, intelligent, and very well-written: “When war hero Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a rising star in the MGB, the State Security force, is assigned to look into the death of a child, Leo is annoyed, first because this takes him away from a more important case, but, more importantly, because the parents insist the child was murdered. In Stalinist Russia, there’s no such thing as murder; the only criminals are those who are enemies of the state.”
The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon
Oh, how I love this book. It’s a culinary reflection, a cookbook, and a theological treatise baked into one single tasty volume, garnished with enough joie de vivre to make the sourest food cynic smile. Delicious stuff. Here’s a taste for the hungry and the curious.
What’s on your bookshelf right now?