You know how kids at your high school used to own Che Guevara shirts and trucker hats, and you could tell they thought they were being cool, statement-making and edgy in the same way studded belts and Ramones patches seemed to work in middle school? Sadly, those kids will have to find their Che merchandise other than the depths of Urban Outfitters endless pseudo-political tee piles.
Apparently, UO decided to remove literally all their Guevara merchandise after some people complained that profiting on a shirt featuring a dictator who may have overseen hundreds of murders is probably not an okay thing to do. An open letter by Thor Halversson of Human Rights Foundation written to Urban Outfitters CEO Ted Marlow voiced concerns on what promoting Guevara’s image as a positive revolutionary means for their audiences.
As a nonprofit organization dedicated to the defense of human rights, we would like to bring your attention to Guevara’s bloody and anti-democratic legacy.
Although Guevara’s image has appeared on countless items for consumption over the last few decades as a symbol of change for the better, Guevara’s actual record is that of a brutal tyrant who suppressed individual freedom in Cuba and murdered those who challenged his worldview.
Oddly enough, just a few hours after posting the letter, Halversson was told that UO had ceased carrying at Che Guevara merchandise. Opting to find out for himself, he called a store to get a statement. Halversson told Huffington Post, ”I got the single most bizarre phone call ever. They said that they had sold out of everything literally that day.”
Yes, there are people who genuinely believe in Guevara’s image, messages and what he stands/stood for. However, there are also quite a lot who feel that commercializing somebody they view as a murderer and dictator is not something anybody should condone, particularly when the majority of buyers are so young and, in general, often more easily influenced.
The majority of my qualms with this, though, come from the fact that UO is so obviously trying to stifle any form of backlash against their clothing by simply removing it as quickly as possible from the Internet and shelves, yet not wanting to admit guilt in any way, shape or form. To me, that’s not doing it right.