Beware comparisons..

When I saw this report at the weekend I had my doubts about its veracity. But there are direct quotes and it seems to be genuine. Although, the story is probably more revealing than was intended.

Looking closely it seems the curator of an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Trisha Ziff, submitted a provisional list of invitees to the official opening of the exhibition of the Argentine-born Ernesto Guevara de la Serna – Che Guevara: Revolutionary and Icon. Included on that list was the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. But whoever had to approve the list apparently decided that it would be “neither relevant or appropriate” to send an official invitation to the SF leader.. the report on iol.ie notes that it was suggested that the curator could invite him as her personal guest.

But Gerry Adams’s response is, as I said, probably more revealing than intended:

“I think its[the V&A] stance is especially absurd given that this particular exhibition is about an iconic revolutionary figure, with family connections to Ireland, who fought against injustice and oppression both in Cuba and in South America.”

BTW, the family connection, apparently, was his great-great-grandfather, who was born in 1715 and left Ireland sometime after that firstly for Spain, then Argentina.

The V&A Museum’s statement of purpose is worth pointing to:

The purpose of the Victoria and Albert Museum is to enable everyone to enjoy its collections and explore the cultures that created them; and to inspire those who shape contemporary design.

But threaded through the reported comments by Adams there appears to be an attempt to draw a comparison between Che Guevara and himself, as in this part of the report:

Mr Adams, who has consistently denied allegations that he is a member of the IRA’s army council, said one possible reason for the Museum’s decision was that it was OK to struggle against injustice, but not against British injustice.

“On the basis of the current ’reason’ offered by the Victoria & Albert Museum, of refusing to invite politicians, it would appear that if Che was still alive he would be barred from his own exhibition. The British Establishment works in wondrous ways.”

Also interesting are the final lines of the report which reveals:

However, even if the invite had been issued, Mr Adams would have been unable to attend. He is due to travel to Spain next month to meet Basque political parties in the wake of the ETA ceasefire.

Well, I suppose that if Ernesto Guevara de la Serna could attempt to export his tactics to the Congo and to Bolivia..

However, critics of the Cult of Che might suggest it isn’t a comparison that should be encouraged, even if it does play well to certain audiences.

But, even if you were an adherent to the myth, what sort of an ego would you need to encourage that comparison yourself?

  • Glensman

    There is no ‘apparently’ in regard to Ernesto’s Irish links, his family are Lynch from the West of Ireland… Just to clear it up.

  • Rory

    Indeed. The family name was Guevara-Lynch. Gerry Adams can console himself (and indeed might be secretly pleased) with the knowledge that the living Fidel Castro is unlikely to be invited to New York’s MoMA to view, say, a retro of Diego-Garcia murals, or a collection of Frida Kahlo’s work.

    Incidentally, I see that as Bank Holiday afternoon entertainment today Ch4 are showing ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ while ITV1 are screening ‘Zulu’. Could these be antidotes to the horrifying news that Ken Loach’s film ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’, a hymn to the IRA, has scooped the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival? Surely not?

  • Ringo

    Glensman – spot on.

    Although I understood it was a Grandmother of his that was one of the Lynch’s of Galway. The links between Galway and Spain are well documented, and if I am not mistaken, it was the murder of the son of a Spanish Merchant that resulted in the coining of the term ‘to Lynch’.

  • joeCanuck

    There are various explanations for the term “lynching”.
    Here is one:
    The word “lynching” is recorded in English since 1835, as a verb derived from the earlier expression Lynch law (1811). The source for the concept of Lynch law is William Lynch, the author of “Lynch’s Law”, an agreement with the Virginia Legislature on September 22, 1782, which allowed Lynch to pursue and punish criminals in Pittsylvania County, without due processs of law. This was because legal proceeedings were in practical terms impossible in the area due to the lack of adequate provision of courts. Originally only corporal punishment was used, usually whipping. Colonel Charles Lynch, a Virginia magistrate and officer on the revolutionary side during the American Revolutionary War, continued William’s practice, trying and convicting petty criminals and pro- British ‘Tories’ in his district c.1782. Like William, Charles Lynch never executed anyone.

    Extralegal punishments similar to those adopted by William Lynch continued to be duplicated by others in the newly independent U.S.A. and elsewhere. The term “lynch law” came in to general use as a loosely employed description of efforts to maintain the established order either by the use of actual lynchings against those who would change it, or even their mere threat, which often proved sufficient to silence activists and critics. The term Lynch mob — for a group of private persons who collectively practice lynching — is attested from 1838. Since the Reconstruction Period after the Secession in the United States, it came to mean, generally, the summary infliction of capital punishment. The further narrowing of the meaning to extralegal execution specifically by hanging, is from the 20th century.

  • Miko

    What is it about oul’ Che anyway?

    He and his chum Fidel siezed power in a Latin American country and then set about murdering thousands of their opponents. Then Che went off to Bolivia to murder peasants in the pursuit of the workers’ paradise and his mucker set about transforming a country with one of the highest standards of literacy and education, trade unionism, health care and women’s rights in the western hemisphere (and before you Trots all start jumping on your keyboards, be warned I have the statistics) into a bankrupt cesspool whose main source of income nowadays derives from “progressive” sex tourists.

    However a thousand miles or so to the south, in Chile, another Latin American hard man took over a country and like Che and Fidel systematically executed his opponents. The difference is that this geezer stabilised his country’s economy and then after a mere decade or so agreed to step down in favour of democracy.

    Chile today has a thriving democracy and a free press as well as a stable economy. Cuba is looking forward to its half century of Stalinist dictatorship, it is bankrupt, critical journalists are jailed without trial, the country’s infastructure resembles a badly maintained sewer, anyone who criticises the government can face summary execution, the population’s brightest hope is getting their hands on a rubber ring from a truck tyre to swim to Florida and the idea of free elections is a pathetic joke.

    Pinochet and Castro, one is the devil incarnate to the progressive left the other is their favourite centrefold boy. Discuss

  • joeCanuck

    Miko, I fully agree that Cuba is an economic basketcase.
    My understanding, however, is that Castro didn’t start out as a commie but only turned to the USSR after he was completely spurned by the USA.
    Having said that, many “liberators” have turned out to become despots because of their own sense of ego. (e.g. Mugabe and Castro).

    Cuba will, hopefully, prosper after the old man dies and (again hopefully) democracy takes root.
    However, everything I have ever read says that the standard of education and the health care system in Cuba is superior to anywhere in the caribean. Are you saying this is not right?

  • Miko

    That’s exactly what I’m saying Joe. You might not be old enough but I remember being told how marvellous the education and health system was in the Soviet Union compared to us poor benighted souls in the west. We now know that that was a complete load of bollox, the same is true for the myth of Cuba’s marvellous education and health systems.

    Here’s a wee test; go visit, oh I don’t know, the Bahamas or Barbados and break a leg, go to the hospitals and get treated. Do NOT do the same thing in Havana, but if you are interested, do check out their hospitals, no, not the showpiece, “Potemkin Village” type hospitals, go to the real hospitals, the ones where actual Cubans go and compare the difference.

    Just because the BBC and the Guardian tell you things it don’t mean they are true.

  • Anonymous

    Miko
    Do you have any source about the Cuban hospitals that i can actually check out sitting on my ass here? I’m unlikely to jet out to Cuba to gather empirical evidence myself.

    I would actually quite like some of those statistics you said you had on the Batitista regime?
    Andy
    I don’t know that much about Cuba so I’m not saying you’re wrong – just curious.

    Another difference betweeen Pinochet and Castro – one was the subject of a comprehensive US embargo and one wasn’t.

  • Anonymous

    Miko
    Apologies for the atrocious spelling and structure on that post … hopefully you get the jist.
    Cheers
    Andy

  • Anonymous

    “The first thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels” – Ernesto Guevara Lynch

  • Anonymous

    Che was just as much a tyrant as anyone of his age. Up there with Mao and Pol Pot. If Che had come to power and behaved as he inted to behave, following the lines of those that inspired (uncle Joe, and Chairman Mao) the cult of Che would never have taken off. Besides the cult of Che is a capitalistic enterprise – his brother in law lives in Spain and makes a fortune selling those T-shirts to idiots.

    Every time I see someone in an Che T-shirt, I think to myself, now there is an idiot who will believe in just about any stupid story. Che is about the only bandit that didn’t make it Hollywood. Any other film industry would tell the truth. And the truth about Che is egocentred, manipulative, cruel, insensitive, uncompromising, and bloodthirsty. The truth would be bad for the T-shirt business