Last Thursday I wrote this post about my desire to take a trip to South America "a la Che Guevara". It was an innocent statement that I made based on my impressions of his trip upon reading The Motorcycle Diaries some time ago.
Yesterday, someone without an email address and without a blog where I could respond left me this comment:
How typical that an affluent 20-something would be a fan of Che Guevara. Doing anything a la "Che Guevara" would require assasinating many possibly-innocent Cubans. Maybe you rich, south American brats should do some research before you idolize murderous, socialist rebels.
...Immediately followed by a quote from Time Magazine from this profile, which is incidentally where this person got their comment from because there isn't an original thought in there.
Needless to say, I was enraged by this comment because if there is one thing in life that irks me and gets me all bent out of shape is people putting words in my mouth. I am someone who is VERY clear. I say what I mean and mean what I say. Anyway, I posted a response that at the time felt okay. But it's not enough.
I know that there is a lot in life that I don't know and as a result I go through life teaching myself on a need to know basis. Despite the fact that I know that I had the best education that my parents could afford me, this education unfortunately did not include Latin American history and as a result I didn't know the name Che Guevara until late in my teens. To be completely honest, I read The Motorcycle Diaries because I liked the movie and I saw the movie because I love Gael Garcia Bernal.
Last night I spent the whole night researching Mr. Guevara so that if I made a mistake in admiring the young man he was I could make amends and move on with my life. Even today I made some calls to a few people whose knowledge I admire and opinions I respect and asked them about it. In these 18 hours I have learned tons.
I do not idolize ANYBODY, but upon reading about his life despite the fact that he did become a murderer I admire the young man he was and I respect the fact that he had such conviction in his beliefs that he literally showed courage to his death. Do I agree with the way he did things? No. But there is a lot to be said about someone who fought (literally) for what he believed in.
I am not a communist but I understand the logic behind socialism. Maybe I'm wrong, but Mr. Guevara was no Fidel Castro. BASED ON MY RESEARCH, what I see is a man who truly believed that America was an oppressive, imperialist power (I can see how he'd think that), that there should be a classless society (not a terrible thought) and that South America should be a united continent based on its mestizo culture (once again, not an entirely terrible idea).
Did he go about it the right way? Probably not. But it seems to me that he was acting towards what IN HIS MIND was the greater good. Did he kill many people in the process (not just Cubans)? Yes. Do I admire that? No. I don't think that Che became an iconic staple for what he did so much as for what he represents and as far as I can see, what he represents is a man who saw the inequality in our society and wanted to make a change and fought for it though perhaps he lost his way in the process.
Oh and by the way, I am in the tax bracket of nowhere near rich, Dominican Republic is not in South America, though I will allow the "brat" part because in life, everything is relative ;)
Oh and according to dictionary.com, rebel means to refuse allegiance to and oppose by force an established government or ruling authority. To resist or defy an authority or a generally accepted convention. To feel or express strong unwillingness or repugnance.
SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME HOW IS IT A BAD THING TO REBEL FOR THE SAKE OF CHANGE???