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Jewish World Review
Feb. 18, 2008
/ 12 Adar I 5768
Obama, Che, and JFK
In 1963, John F. Kennedy was murdered in Texas by a fervent admirer of Cuban
dictator Fidel Castro. In 2008, a large Cuban flag emblazoned with the image of
Che Guevara, Castro's brutal henchman, is prominently displayed in a Barack
Obama campaign volunteer office in Houston.
Obama has been widely compared to JFK, most notably by the late president's
brother and daughter. President Kennedy, a stalwart anticommunist, despised
Castro and his gang of totalitarian thugs. But when word broke last week that
Obama's supporters in Houston work under a banner glorifying Che, the
campaign's reaction was to
brush it off as an issue involving only volunteers, not the official campaign. After
two days of controversy, the campaign issued a statement calling the flag
"inappropriate" and saying its display "does not reflect Senator Obama's views."
Would JFK have reacted so mildly?
In December 1962, Kennedy offered a blunt summary of the Castro/Che record to
that date. "The Cuban people were promised by the revolution political liberty,
social justice, intellectual freedom, land for the campesinos, and an end to
economic exploitation," he said. "They have received a police state, the
elimination of the dignity of land ownership, the destruction of free speech
and a free press, and the complete subjugation of individual human welfare."
Eleven months later, in a speech intended for delivery on the day he was
assassinated, Kennedy regretted that Castro's "Communist foothold" in Latin
America had "not yet been eliminated."
Were he alive today, it's hard to imagine JFK feeling anything but contempt for
those who extol a dictatorship that has been crushing freedom and human beings
for nearly 50 years. And it would surely pain him that so many of the
cheerleaders are members of his own political party.
The lionizing of Che, a sociopath who relished killing and acclaimed "the
pedagogy of the firing squad," is not just "inappropriate." It is vile. No
American in his right mind would be caught dead wearing a David Duke T-shirt or
displaying a poster of Pol Pot. A celebrity who was spotted with a
swastika-festooned cap or an actress who revealed that she had gotten a tattoo
depicting Timothy McVeigh would inspire only repugnance. No presidential
campaign would need more than 30 seconds to sever its ties to anyone, paid
staffer or volunteer, whose office was adorned with a Ku Klux Klan banner. Yet
Che's likeness, which ought to be as loathed as any of those, is instead a
trendy bestseller and a cult favorite.
A few years ago the New York Public Library gift shop sold Che wristwatches.
These it described as "featuring the classic romantic image of Che Guevara,
around which the word 'revolution' revolves." But Che's idea of revolution was
anything but romantic. What he cherished was hatred and murder: "Hatred as an
element of struggle," he wrote in 1967, "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." It was a
sentiment he expressed repeatedly and lived up to.
With Che at his side, Castro toppled Fulgencio Batista in January 1959. "As
soon as they had seized power," notes *The Black Book of Communism*, a
magisterial survey of communist terror and repression in the 20th century,
"they began to conduct mass executions inside the two main prisons, La Cabana
and Santa Clara." As chief prosecutor of the new regime, Che oversaw the
bloodbath, ordering hundreds of executions in the first months of 1959. Those
he killed, *The Black Book* records, included "former comrades-in-arms who
refused to abandon their democratic beliefs."
Like totalitarians of every stripe, Che didn't scruple at the death of
innocents. "Quit the dallying!" he ordered Jose Vilasuso, a conscientious
government lawyer who was seeking evidence against several prisoners. "Your job
is a very simple one. Judicial evidence is an archaic and secondary bourgeois
detail. This is a revolution! We execute from revolutionary conviction."
Time magazine once called Che the "brain" of the Cuban Revolution, and saluted
his "icy calculation, vast competence, high intelligence, and . . . perceptive
sense of humor." A better description comes from journalist Humberto Fontova,
who observes in *Exposing The Real Che Guevara* that Che was for Castro what
Heinrich Himmler was for Hitler and Lavrenty Beria for Stalin "the snarling
enforcer." Fittingly, a massive drawing of Che adorns the headquarters of
Cuba's secret police in Havana.
That this sadistic thug's face also adorns the office of a US presidential
candidate's supporters is appalling and disgraceful. That the candidate
couldn't bring himself to say so is even worse.
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