Among the many things the Irish (especially in the U.S.) are NOT infamous for is their dim-wittedness party-poopery and cowardice. (Full disclosure: my wife is Irish-American, and we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary. Consequently, my three grown offspring are half Irish. Hence my expertise on this matter.)
But forget my family for a second. Let’s do the old “what’s the first word that pops into your mind” game. “Audie Murphy” (certainly NOT cowardice!) Jimmy Fallon (certainly NOT dim-wittedness!) Bill Murray (certainly NOT party-poopery!)
(Please stifle the sermons, because I just love stereotyping, a.k.a known as “profiling.”)
But seriously folks, Ireland celebrated the 50th anniversary of Ernest “Che” Guevara’s death last week by issuing a commemorative postage stamp bearing the terrorist, mass-murderer's famous picture.
The ironies could be richer. Che Guevara’s first decree when his “rebels” captured the town of Sancti Spiritus in central Cuba during the last days of the skirmishing against Batista's army outlawed alcohol, gambling and regulated relations between the sexes—conditions not exactly conducive to a festive St. Paddy’s Day. Popular outcry and Fidel's sharp political sense made Ireland’s new hero grudgingly rescind his order.
"I have no home, no woman, no parents, no brothers and no friends," wrote this new hero of Ireland in his diaries. "My friends are friends only so long as they think as I do politically." Luckily Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan’s joint St. Paddy’s Day festivities did not fall under Che Guevara’s jurisdiction.
Interestingly, the cheeky Ernesto Guevara's signature on his early correspondence read "Stalin II” (not Eamon De Valera whose father was born in Cuba).
"Individualism must disappear!" thundered Ireland’s new hero in a 1961 speech in Havana. He went on to denounce the very "spirit of rebellion" as "reprehensible!" "Youth must refrain from ungrateful questioning of governmental mandates" commanded Guevara. "Instead they must dedicate themselves to study, work and military service!"
And woe to those youths "who stayed up late carousing and thus reported to work (government forced-labor) tardily." Youth, wrote Ireland’s new hero, “should learn to think and act as a mass." "Those who chose their own path" as in growing long hair and listening to Rock & Roll (Van Morrison, Jim Morrison for instance) were denounced as worthless "lumpen" and "delinquents." In his famous speech Ireland’s new hero even vowed "to make individualism disappear from Cuba! It is criminal to think of individuals!"
Tens of thousands of Cuban youths guilty of nothing more than trying to boogie to Light My Gloria, Gloria or Brown-Eyed Girl while tipping a pint learned that Che Guevara's admonitions were more than idle bombast.
By the mid 60's the crime of a "rocker" lifestyle or effeminate behavior got thousands of youths yanked off Cuba's streets and parks by secret police and dumped in prison camps with "Work Will Make Men Out of You" in bold letters above the gate and with machine gunners posted on the watchtowers. The initials for these camps were UMAP, not GULAG, but the conditions were quite similar.
Many opponents of the regime co-founded by Che Guevara qualify as the longest-suffering political prisoners in modern history, having suffered prison camps, forced labor and torture chambers for a period over THIRTY TIMES as long in Che Guevara’s prisons and torture chambers as Michael Collins and Jerry Adams spent in British jails and internment camps.
“Certainly, we execute!” Che Guevara boasted while addressing the hallowed halls of the UN General Assembly on Dec. 9, 1964, to the claps and cheers of that august body. “And we will continue executing as long as it is necessary! This is a war to the death against the Revolution’s enemies!”
“I don’t need proof to execute a man,” snapped Che to a judicial underling in 1959. “I only need proof that it’s necessary to execute him!”
The communist firing squads gleefully set in motion by Che Guevara in Cuba murdered OVER ONE THOUSAND TIMES as many Cuban anti-communist rebels as the British executed Irish rebels during the Easter Rising. The figure of 16,000 firing squad murders by the regime co-founded by Che Guevara and whose founding apparatchiks still mostly run Cuba issues from the Black Book of Communism, written by French scholars and published in English by Harvard University Press, (neither outfit exactly a bastion of Cuban exiles.)
One day before his death in Bolivia, Che Guevara—for the first time in his life—finally faced something properly describable as combat. So he ordered his guerrilla charges to give no quarter, to fight to their last breaths and to their last bullet. With his men doing exactly what he ordered (fighting and dying to the last bullet), a slightly wounded Che snuck away from the firefight and surrendered with fully loaded weapons while whimpering to his captors: “Don’t Shoot! I’m Che. I’m worth more to you alive than dead!”
His Bolivian captors viewed the matter differently. In fact, they adopted a policy that has since become a favorite among Americans who encounter (so-called) endangered species threatening their families or livestock on their property: “Shoot, shovel and shut-up.”
Justice has never been better served.