There was an interesting post Tuesday morning on the New York Times's "City Room" blog, "Che, or a Statue of an Actor Playing Che," about a statue of an actor playing Che Guevara recently installed in a corner of Central Park. David Gonzalez interviewed passerby delighted at the representation (once-removed) of Guevara, the colorful Communist thug romanticized among the benighted left and the uninformed public for his colorful charisma and sex appeal.
Che Guevara has been put on a pedestal in Manhattan. This is something not lacking in irony, since Manhattan might not exist today had the Argentine-born, Cuban-tested revolutionary had his way and unleashed the Soviet nukes against the United States during the 1962 missile crisis.
Are New Yorkers really allowing such an homage to occupy the southeast corner of Central Park? Technically, no. The statue actually depicts a Barcelona street performer portraying Che, part of three bronze sculptures by Christian Janowski, which were recently installed by the Public Art Fund.
The Times's Gonzalez didn't genuflect to the urban hipster mentality.
"That's Che Guevara, right?" said Sean Kelly, who was visiting from Ames, Iowa. "I'm kind of interested in his beliefs and the kind of stuff he did."
There were the executions when he presided over the prison at La Cabaña. Or his stated willingness to have let the missiles fly had they been under Cuban control, according to a newspaper interview cited by the biographer Jon Lee Anderson. And as several conservative commentators have noted, soon after the 1962 crisis, Che was preparing to export revolution while Cuban diplomats in New York were implicated in a plot to blow up, among other targets, department stores in New York City on the day after Thanksgiving. (More examples can be found in Humberto Fontova's book "Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him.")
More depressingly typical of the paper's long-time favorable treatment of Guevara the "revolutionary icon" came in the "Comments of the Day" box in the paper's Wednesday's Metro section, reprinting two favorable comments and one mixed one about Che in response to Gonzalez's online posting. Though there were many comments gratifyingly critical of Che, the Times chose to reprint this one from one Sebastian Soler: "He lived in accordance with his beliefs and was willing to die for them." The murderous Che was certainly eager for others to die for his beliefs -- and to help them along the way.