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Che vs. Kim Jong Il

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A big thanks to Deus Do, editor at Reed Magazine, for accepting and publishing my art/poem, “The Glorious Right to Insult Kim Jong Il.” Kim Jong Il is a universally lampooned bozo, from Team America World Police to North Korean propaganda boasting of his shooting 38 under par. No one debates Kim Jong Il’s evil.Two years ago the Rio Grande Review published “Poem in the Form of Che,” a companion to my Kim Jong Il. How does lovable ol’ Che compare to a North Korean goon? Not well.

Ever since I lived in Argentina and read el diario del che en bolivia I plunged off the Che bandwagon. Guys like Pol Pot and Mao and Stalin and Kim Jong Il are easy targets.  Everyone hates them. But why hate on Che-dolf?

Because journals I read and respect, like Guernica, idolize him and avoid any real debate of whether he was a mass murderer. The simple one sentence conclusion: Che started good and died an evil man. Okay, the Che debate deserves at least a paragraph.The same people that are against torture, extra-judicial execution, killing of civilians, these anti-war people often adore and glorify the “legend” of Che. I can understand if you live in Cuba and have been force fed Che-paganda, there’s no free press in Cuba, but c’mon, Guernica, this is the West. We can look at all sides. In Argentina he’s only a “hero” to the far left, to the majority he’s a demagogue. I’ll concede his case falls into the realm of “moral ambiguity” and that he definitely had a humanitarian side. But dig deeper on Che. He should be reviled and not revered.

Reed Magazine, el diario del che en bolivia, Rio Grande Review

Rio Grande Review: Poem in the Form of Che

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Poema en la Forma del Che

The Spring Rio Grande Review is out with my poem/art/statement, if you will, about Che Guevara. Twenty years ago I had a different perspective. Che seemed an enigma, a revolutionary, and perhaps a hero. He received praise from the likes of Mandela, stood up against brutality and right-wing dictatorships, and dedicated his life to fighting for the oppressed.

As years went by, I came across documentation of Che’s deeds and words that seemed, well, er…odious. He killed a lot of people without reason, had a simplified Marxist view of economy, and prejudicial hatred against classes. Che abhorred atrocity but did not understand it. And for a soldier, judge, and executioner, this is a lethal combo.

Written by Caleb Powell

June 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Che vs. Pinochet: Who’s the Bigger Asshole?

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El juez Baltasar Garzón defendió en su momento para abrir la causa sobre los desaparecidos en España que el delito de “detención ilegal, sin dar razón del paradero, en el contexto de crímenes contra la humanidad” es “permanente”. – MADRID (AFP) Abril, 2010

Judge Baltasar Garzón defended the opening of a case against those who perpetrated the disappearances of civilians in Spain, saying that the crime of “illegal detention, without giving notice of the whereabouts of the missing, in the context of crimes against humanity” is “permanent.

In 1998 Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón issued a warrant for the arrest of Augusto Pinochet. (Good on Señor Garzón, may he kick the pants off his adversaries). I was in London at the time and wandered outside Parliament, and thus had the opportunity to talk to some Chileans.  They were demonstrating, voicing support for Garzón’s warrant.

The protesters were correct, of course, in their concerns. Pinochet’s victims have been without recourse. US support for Pinochet was a bloody shame, and the fact Pinochet was allowed some peace and semblance of diplomatic immunity is a travesty. Though Pinochet never stood trial, he is reviled, a foul stench in the pot of 20th Century saga. With the exception of dorks such as the derechistas, Pinochet is universally considered a goon…a murderous, slavering asshole. Yet why are some of the people that hate Pinochet often on the side of Che? These dipshits  wear Che T-shirts and post his image on their notebooks and bumpers. Ok, not all are dipshits…some are well-educated and possess intelligence that trumps mine. But the question still merits asking: Is Che a symbol for atrocity?

“Para enviar hombres al paredón de fusilamiento el poder judicial no necesita demostrar nada… Estos procedimientos son arcaicos y burgueses. ¡Esta es una revolución! Y un revolucionario se debe convertir en una máquina fría de asesinar motivado por el odio puro. Debemos crear la pedagogía del Paredón.” Ernesto Che Guevara cuando ordenó la ejecución del Coronel Rojas sin proceso judicial en 1959.

To send men to be shot by firing squad at The Wall, judicial power does not need to prove anything…these procedures are archaic and bourgeois. This is revolution! And revolution must transform itself into a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the Wall! – Che when he ordered the execution of Coronel Rojas without judicial process in 1959.

Che died a vile man, not a hero. In Cuba he presided over the arrest of over 200 prisoners incarcerated by the Castro regime. In a prison outside of Havana he signed off on executions without trial. Some of the prisoners were bystanders, guilt by association being their sole crime (Mao & Pol Pot honed these policies). He continued, becoming a fanatic, as he waged war in Latin America (he started out on a noble cause, and evolved into an executioner who only saw black and white…and damned straight, his foes were equally culpable and capable of atrocity).

Che’s T-shirts outsell Pinochet’s. Why? Crimes against humanity, whether committed by the right or left wing, remain crimes against humanity.


 (Nice Poster…but it’s Che Guevara!) ¡Viven Che y Pinochet, juntos en el infierno!

Written by Caleb Powell

May 2, 2010 at 5:52 am

Posted in Genocidal Maniac, Review

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Obama Rethinks Armenia

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“Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. … As president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.” Barack Obama, Washington Post

Well, it turns out Obama Rethinks Genocide concerning Armenia and the slaughter in Turkey beginning in 1915. It’s a relevant debate; the way the world positions itself will mould future policies and actions concerning human rights disasters (had we been more forthcoming in taking a stand we may have been quicker in Rwanda). For more  on Turkey, check out this site: The Hurriyet News: Turkey’s English Daily

There are people who think genocide did not happen, check out the comments after this article: Armenian “Genocide” May Alienate Turkey.

More on Armenia.

Written by Caleb Powell

March 30, 2010 at 5:57 am

Posted in Genocidal Maniac

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Battle Over History

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Black Dog of Fate:  On March 1st CBS aired Battle Over History, with Peter Balakian (author of the excellent work on the Armenian Genocide, Black Dog of Fate):

Today the United States House Panel voted to label the “genocide” what it was…genocide. Turks are furious (only the asshole Turks). There are cool Turks like Orhan Pamuk and the supporters of murdered journalist  Hrant Dink.   Obama is now in office, and he has said that it is time to stop coddling genocide-deniers. Let’s hope this is so.

My October 12, 2007, letter to the Seattle Times: Armenian resolution Trapped in history

Editor, The Times:

According to “Armenian resolution splits state’s House delegation“ [Times, Local News, Oct. 10], President Bush is urging Congress to reject legislation that would affirm that 1.5 million Armenians killed around the time of World War I were victims of genocide.

That this genocide happened is without doubt. The documentation and evidence, the photos, the accounts of survivors are recorded in history and are as irrefutable as the evidence of the Holocaust. And thus passing this measure, which the House Foreign Affairs Committee is voting on, is the right course of action.

President Bush’s reasons why he is against this measure are all valid. A vote acknowledging Turkey’s participation in genocide would damage relations. Turkey is strategic to our ongoing involvement in Iraq. And yet, isn’t the elimination of human atrocity the only important reason we are involved in the Middle East?

How can anyone within the Bush administration decry or accuse former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s government of genocide concerning the Kurds or others and at the same time help suppress the truth of the horrors perpetrated against the Armenians. Or, for that matter, how could the United States condemn any government for any human rights crime? Would we consider diplomatic relations with a German government that continued to deny the Holocaust?

Even Hitler, in defending his decision to invade Poland, said, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians.” Hitler thought — and was right to a degree — that no one cares about the horrors of the past. Bush’s rejection, in a sense, would prove Hitler correct and be a tragic mistake.

—      Caleb Powell, Seattle

Update:  April 24, 2014. Obama breaks promise (again) to commemorate Armenian genocide

Written by Caleb Powell

March 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Seattle Times, November 9

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Letter published in the Seattle Times, November 9, 2009

All Muslims, not just a few, should denounce violence

In the wake of the Fort Hood massacre, the media and authorities are debating whether or not this is an act of terrorism by a sane man, or the result of mental defect.

The Muslim community has spoken out, and their dichotomy is whether or not to fully condemn the act, along with concerns that this will further erode Muslim relations with non-Muslims.

As for the Muslim community’s reaction, there are some who are outraged and concerned only about the victims, others are more worried about how this tarnishes Islam.

Thirteen people were killed, yet this latter group, on talk shows and blogs, talk about how persecuted they are, how persecuted Nidal Malik Hasan must have felt, and the backlash against the Muslim community.

Muslims should be outraged at someone taking the name of Islam and desecrating it; they should not voice an almost narcissistic concern about how they had hoped the shooter wasn’t Muslim, for such shows disinterest in the victims.

When Hasan, or any other Muslim, starts talking about killing infidels, they should be exposed and excommunicated. Until all mosques and Muslims, not just a select few, make it a priority to distance themselves from Muslim members who advocate violence, there will continue to be a great divide between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Terrorists are sane people who can rationalize and justify indiscriminate killing. Hasan rationalized and justified indiscriminate killing, and Muslims and non-Muslims must condemn this with an equal voice.

All letter are at Published Letters. To read the unedited original letter, visit Unpublished Letters.

Written by Caleb Powell

November 12, 2009 at 12:13 am

Eighteen Paragraphs: An Essay of Death and Imagination

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 Ceux qui vous font croire des absurdités, peuvent vous faire commettre des atrocities.” – Voltaire

Product Details 

This essay, Eighteen, is available at the fascinating zine Drunken Boat. The essay was a Finalist in the 2008 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Writing Competition.

EIGHTEENZoya Kosmodemyanskaya is a partisan fighting against the Nazi invasion. She is captured near the Russian border. Shortly after, in January of 1942, her picture is shown on the front pages of Pravda, one of her breasts is lopped off, and she is about to be hanged. She is eighteen years old.

When Masabata Loate returns to her township in South Africa, after spending five years in prison as an anti-apartheid activist, she is surprised to find the political climate has changed. A mob sets upon her with pangas and she is cut to pieces.

During the Great Terror, Vassili Klementovitch Sidorov is arrested and accused of various counter-revolutionary activities. One of his faults is that he has accused Stalin of killing too many people. He is sentenced on July 16th, and executed August 3rd, 1938…

Suggested: read Eighteen while listening to Killing In The Name [Explicit] by Rage Against The Machine.

Those who can make you believe absurdity, can make you commit atrocity.”  – Voltaire

Update:  Eight Are Charged With Chilean Singer’s 1973 Murder After Military Coup – NYTimes on Victor Jara