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Sunday, April 30, 2023 

Argentinian comic strip writer considered leftist "legend" by New Yorker

The New Yorker wrote some history about Héctor Germán Oesterheld, a comic strip writer in Argentina, who appears to have had a fishy approach to what he considered worthy subjects to cast in his cartoons:
One of the few things we know about the end of the comic-strip writer Héctor Germán Oesterheld’s life is that he was allowed to smoke a cigarette on Christmas Eve in 1977. Argentina’s National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons, or conadep, issued a report in 1984 containing that detail. The report quotes Eduardo Arias, a psychologist detained with Oesterheld:

The guards gave us permission to take off our hoods and smoke a cigarette. They also allowed us to talk to each other for five minutes. Then Héctor said that as he was the oldest he wanted to shake hands with all the prisoners present, one by one. I will never forget that handshake. Héctor Oesterheld was sixty years old when this happened. His physical condition was very bad indeed. I don’t know what happened to him. I was freed in January 1978. He stayed in that place.

Both men were prisoners of the Argentine junta at one of its most notorious facilities, a detention and torture center situated in a police station in the Villa Insuperable neighborhood in the province of Buenos Aires. It was known mainly by its ironic nickname, the Sheraton. Oesterheld and three of his four daughters were among los desaparecidos, “the disappeared,” those people who were kidnapped and almost certainly murdered by the regime; the fourth died during a botched abduction.

For most of his life, Oesterheld was a beloved writer of pulp adventures—Westerns, stories of alien invasion, tales of the battlefield in the Second World War—that often bend or break genre rules. When Oesterheld departed from convention, it was to tweak reigning pieties. His cowboys are villains who oppress courageous Indians. His war stories privilege moral ambiguity over daring exploits. When his aliens invade an imaginary Argentina, feckless governments abandon a persecuted citizenry, who have to resist the invaders as guerrillas. His work reflects a desperate search for heroism, at first in adventure stories and then among real-world figures like Eva Perón and Che Guevara, who star in his comics less as historical figures than as avatars of his passionate leftism.
Well here's where they lose me, when they begin sugarcoating a figure like Guevara, who was really a tyrant, and was responsible for slaughtering over 100 people regardless of guilt or innocence. And he was against free press. I'm sure the rightist movement in Argentina at the time weren't saints either, but glossing over the most serious offenses committed by leftists like Guevara is very troubling. As told in this Wall Street Journal op-ed (via AEI) about the Castro regime, whom Guevara assisted in taking over Cuba:
Cuba Archive finds that some 5,600 Cubans have died in front of firing squads and another 1,200 in “extrajudicial assassinations.” Che Guevara was a gleeful executioner at the infamous La Cabana Fortress in 1959 where, under his orders, at least 151 Cubans were lined up and shot. Children have not been spared. Of the 94 minors whose deaths have been documented by Cuba Archive, 22 died by firing squad and 32 in extrajudicial assassinations.
If that's the kind of man Oesterheld revered, something is terribly wrong here, and he's hardly a legend if he glossed over serious acts of barbarism. Even Peron and her husband Juan weren't admirable figures, based on how the husband had granted safe haven to Nazi war criminals, supported Mussolini during WW2, and the wife just went along with it all. How can a sensible person admire a comics writer who depicted those kind of real life figures as "avatars"? Some search for "heroism" alright. This looks like just another poor example coming from a magazine that's long been a far-left apologist for years.

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Speaking of leftist creators and Che Guevara-stanning, Avi, I know you did a Hideo Kojima-related blog entry at my request earlier, but can you please do another Kojima-related blog entry, and this time specifically focus on Kojima's blatant shilling for Che Guevara in Peace Walker? That bit wasn't covered in the earlier blog entry, and I'd prefer it if you covered that bit. What makes Kojima's shilling for Che Guevara in Peace Walker ESPECIALLY egregious is that Che was nearly the reason why the Cuban Missile Crisis nearly escalated into all-out nuclear war (spooking Khrushchev enough to try and muzzle him and go along with the turkey deal as a result). Especially when a major part of Peace Walker's plot was to stop the CIA from smuggling nukes into Costa Rica specifically to avoid something like Cuba from happening again (not to mention the KGB agent Zadornov nearly doing a role-reversal of Cuba where Cuba gets "nuked" by America to gin up Marxist revolution), and even more than that, one of the briefing tapes, specifically by Kazuhira Miller, one of the main protagonists, who also was shown to shill for Che, made it specifically clear that had Cuba escalated, Japan most likely would have been nuked during that time and the populace had EVERY reason to freak out from his recollection. Heck, Big Boss, the OTHER main character, in fact, THE main character of the game, was shown to shill for that creep even though he specifically noted that had Cuba not happened, Operation Snake Eater wouldn't have happened either, with the implication that The Boss would still be alive (a major part of the plot is him still coming to terms with his mentor, The Boss's death and the tremendous guilt he had over his hand in her death, especially when the reason she died was because America decided to fake her being a traitor and have her killed to save face towards the Soviets when an attempt at conning a renegade GRU official out of his money backfired in Snake Eater, one of the prior games.). Oh, and based on a couple of tweets posted by his secretary, the Che praise was due to Kojima's own love for that creep, NOT an indication that Big Boss himself would become a controversial figure in-universe (never bought that explanation anyways, especially when Miller last I checked was still one of the GOOD guys in the old games, yet he's singing praises for Che like Big Boss is, arguably even moreso than Big Boss).

I'll post the videos as a refresher:

https://youtu.be/usYtK3d2ydk (this is the main bit about the Che Guevara praise among Big Boss and Kazuhira Miller)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c335zmfJUuM (this is the Cuban Missile Crisis tape that I alluded to earlier. Note Big Boss and Miller's specific statements about the event).

Oh, and as a bit of a bonus, here's Miller's background tape as well. Not particularly relevant to Che, but it does give some background to Miller in that game, especially when he indicated he had, at least initially, more fondness for America than he did for Japan, the country he was actually born in as a bastard (I mean it: his mom in the post-war period had to service American troops to survive. He was the result): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28CbH2EiwAc

And while we're at it, here's those tweets by Kojima's secretary:

https://twitter.com/Kaizerkunkun/status/900937994143649792

https://twitter.com/Kaizerkunkun/status/1190763430497542144

If anything caused me to lose any and all respect for Kojima, this most certainly did.

I'll try to write about the subject soon, thanks for asking.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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