The Corner

Not My Idea of Glamour . . .

To live in the developed world in the 21st century, it really helps to be culturally multilingual — in other words, to have a sympathetic understanding of dramatically different worldviews. Consider this lead sentence, from an editorial in the British Catholic magazine The Tablet praising the resurgence of “liberation theology” in today’s Vatican:

Liberation theology has always had an aura of slightly edgy glamour, the equivalent in words to images of Che Guevara on posters.

Now, in my own worldview, an image of Che Guevara does not have “an aura of slightly edgy glamour”; it is a picture of a murderer and a thug. But the reason I don’t get terribly upset when I see someone wearing a Che T-shirt is that I understand that “a slightly edgy glamour” is almost certainly all the person wearing the T-shirt intends to convey. More specifically, the person is sending two messages: 1) I think of myself as a politically aware person who sympathizes with los pobres de la tierra but 2) I am actually ignorant of the real-life atrocities of the man whose image I am bearing.

So I think the Tablet editors are telling the truth about the worldview of people who wear Che T-shirts: It really is just a matter of “slightly edgy glamour” to them. (I leave out of consideration a possible handful of people who wear Che T-shirts because they are thoroughly informed about his life and actions, and strongly endorse them. The fact that they wear Che T-shirts is probably among the least of their problems.)

Note that this defense is not available to the people — reported on by our friend Florence King in a recent book review in the print NR — who wear T-shirts with the picture of Charles Manson on them. The career of Charles Manson is too well known in the culture, and he is famous for one and only one thing. The only defense available in that case is that the T-shirt wearer is intending to be ironic, albeit doing so in very poor taste.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Science & Tech

Set NASA Free

The Trump administration has proposed shifting the International Space Station from a NASA-exclusive research facility to a semi-public, semi-private one. Its plan would nix all government funding for the ISS by 2025 and award at least $150 million per year to NASA to help with the transition. This would be a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More