Hitler-chic and Chairman Mao

I saw this post of a fried chicken restaurant in Thailand.  hitlerThe picture actually made the rounds on the internet a couple of years ago.  Apparently, Hitler-chic is popular in Thailand, while other Southeast Asian countries like India and Indonesia are fascinated by the infamous dictator.

In the United States, we are fascinated by Che Guevara, second in command to Fidel Castro during and after the Cuban revolution, and Mao Zedong, former dictator of China.  The Beatles sing about Chairman Mao, but Che has his own line of clothing.  I even know a cat named Che!  I suppose the fascination arises from the fact that these men were revolutionaries who threw off the chains of colonialism and capitalism.  Hitler was a revolutionary, too.  He revolted against the Western powers who had contrived to punish Germany through the Treaty of Versailles, but he also revolted against the liberal and elitist culture that pervaded Germany during the Weimar Republic.  All three men were also strongly Nationalistic.

So why no Hitler-chic in the United States?  People seem to have a visceral reaction to Hitler.  I think perhaps this is because Hitler reminds us of the United States’ own struggle with racial bigotry.  Also, perhaps popular perceptions lead people in the United States to believe that Hitler’s actions were much worse than those of the other two men.  The 45 million killed during Mao’s reign were victims only of wrongheaded government policies, those killed by Che were traitors to the cause of freedom, while the 10-15 million killed during Hitler’s reign were victims of racial bigotry and genocide.  That any of these people are lionized in popular culture, as Stalin was lionized in the 1930’s by America’s Elites, is beyond me.

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