John Fund: Re-branding Guevara ... Che the Butcher

Roundup: Talking About History

John Fund is national-affairs columnist for NRO.

The stern photo of revolutionary Che Guevara taken by Alberto Korda in 1960 is one of the most reproduced images on the planet, appearing on posters, flags, postcards, T-shirts, and even bikinis. Sadly, the ubiquitous appearances of Che — hailed today usually by his first name only — demonstrate the near-total failure to educate people about the blood-soaked cruelty he really represented.
But there are, thankfully, some limits to the use of Che’s famous image — if people complain. A recent e-mail sent by the Environmental Protection Agency to mark Hispanic Heritage Month included Korda’s image of Che along with the slogan “Hasta la victoria siempre,” or “On to victory, always.” After facing criticism, the EPA said the e-mail had been “drafted and sent by an individual employee, and without official clearance.”
Nonetheless, it’s unsettling to see Che’s image appropriated by a government agency that has a notorious reputation for violating property rights and imposing arbitrary controls on growth. Just last March, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that an Idaho couple seeking to build on their land had their rights violated when the EPA imposed fines of $75,000 a day without giving the couple the ability to challenge its rulings.
Also this year, the EPA regional administrator Al Armendariz was forced to resign after he described his enforcement philosophy in a public speech: “Find people who are not complying with the law and you hit them as hard as you can and make examples of them.” He compared the tactic to that used by ancient Roman soldiers: “The Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw, and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”
That sounds a lot like how Che operated...

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