Jul 17th, 2008
Terrorism in a t-shirt?
Che Guevara t-shirts are a common sight among coffeshop hipsters, young idealists and thrift store shoppers who found one for $.99 next to the “Mountain High 2003 Fun Run!” gray Beefy T.
Whether you’re wearing your Che shirt as a cool anti-establishment statement, because you just think it’s soft or because military green brings out your eyes, Glenn Beck tells us that your Che t-shirt is a terrorist uniform.
According to Beck, Robin Meade of CNN interviewed three former captives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). These captives were saved by members of the Columbian army who went undercover to pose as FARC supporters, and according to Beck the spy uniform chosen to fool FARC was – you guessed it – a Che Guevara t-shirt.
Beck’s editorial stance on the matter of the Che t-shirt is summed up in this sentence: “How Che became such a revered superhero of the hard-core left is laughable.” He then explains his position.
Here’s the thing, though: Beck assumes that people wearing a Che t-shirt are doing so as an intentional political statement.
What Beck may be missing is that the Che t-shirt has become less of an ideology statement and more of a design element that may or may not carry any historical significance for the person sporting it. Which is to say that the wearers – particularly the wearers of the heavily licensed classic Che image at right – may not be of the intentionally left-wing mindset that he envisions.
Funnily enough, the topic of the Che t-shirt is one that I myself have investigated out of sheer curiosity in the past. I have a theory that a small percentage of people wearing this t-shirt (a) know that the guy on their shirt is a real person with historical significance, (b) know who Che actually was, let alone (c) could write a one-page essay on the life of Che Guevara.
That being the case, I have in fact asked random strangers wearing Che t-shirts if they know who’s on their shirt. While my sample is small (I’ve asked 4 people total), the answers were as follows:
1) Is this a real guy? I thought this was a logo!
2) Wait, what’s that guy’s name? He’s like Mexican or something, right?
3) Che Guevara… um… he was like, a revolutionary, I think…
4) Isn’t that a “Rage Against the Machine” t-shirt?
Beck also laments the apparent lack of anti-Che t-shirts, and there we can help him. There are a number of unflattering Che t-shirts in the CafePress Marketplace, all made by folks like Beck who have something to say on the matter. And if he can’t find one he likes, he can make it. Hey, that’s the American way…
Whether the Che t-shirt is an intentional symbol of self-aware anarchists is still up for debate. What’s not up for debate is the belief by some that sporting a Che t-shirt means that you’re aligning yourself with terrorists.
So be forewarned, urban hipster. Travel smart and put your Che t-shirt in your checked luggage with your 8-oz bottle of Listerine.