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César Chávez National Monument


I am quite happy that President Obama has created the César Chávez National Monument. Although we are in a moment of much needed Chávez revisionism that begins to take apart the hagiography that plagued early literature on the United Farm Workers, he is still the most identifiable individual in the history of American Latinos. I don’t believe the National Park System doesn’t have any other sites specifically devoted to Latino history and so this helps fill an important absence in our collective public memory spaces.

Obama’s been criticized both left and right. Mike Elk rightly notes that Obama hasn’t exactly fulfilled the vision of the UFW through his immigration policies while Ruben Navarette whines that Obama is pandering and then uses the bad side of Chavez to score on his ever-repeating political point that Latinos should vote Republican despite that party’s institutionalized racism.

Well, maybe it is pandering. And maybe Obama has been disappointing on immigration. But this is one of these cases where both the politics and the merits are impeccable.

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  • c u n d gulag

    Cue the “La Raza’s taking over our National Parks!” cries.

    Good thing the patriots can all carry guns into National Parks.

    If I’m Hispanic, I think I’d wait awhile before going to this one.

  • howard

    as erik and i both know, the national park service is responsible for the interpretation of a large number of historic sites visited by school-children and vacationing families, so these choices matter, and this is a good one.

  • wengler

    The Navarette article wasn’t very convincing. It simply says that it isn’t a good pander to young people and Chavez was bad because he hated scabs many of which were in the US illegally.

    A union leader that hates scabs- mind blown.

  • DocAmazing

    Obama started very badly with respect to the Latino community (ICE raids and rejection of Sactuary Community laws were mean and stupid), but turned around impressively with support of the DREAM Act. In a related area, he’s probably the best president on Indian issues for six or seven decades, if not more.

    The guy shows promise.

    • DrDick

      Not really. Nixon was probably the best president in the last 60 years (and a close contender for ever) on Indian issues, though the evidence suggests it was for the wrong reasons.

      • drdick, somehow i didn’t see your 2:41 before i wrote my 2:51, so let me pose the same question to you that i did to docamazing: what makes nixon’s record strong? i just don’t know enough about this to have any idea….

    • howard

      docamazing, i have to admit, i don’t really know anything about obama’s native american policies or how they compare to other presidents of the last six decades, so this is an informational question:

      what makes his record so good in that area?

        • Well, I’m not so sure that one chief of one nation means a lot either way, particularly given the extremely contentious and divided nature of Native American politics.

          • I’m sure it means more than one non-Native American non-chief.

            • This is the equivalent of saying that one black person stands for the entire black race.

              • Hogan

                Saying “one Indian is more than no Indians” is the same as saying “one Indian is equivalent to all Indians”?

                • Actually, this isn’t merely “one Indian.”

                  This is “one Indian repeatedly elected by many thousands of other Indians to be their official representative on political issues.”

              • Are you sure it’s not the equivalent of HITLER?

      • This is interesting.

        Apparently, record amounts of money for infrastructure projects on tribal lands (there was more such money in the ARRA than the in the BIA budget for a year), vigorous defense of voting rights against voter suppression efforts, and including meaningful sums for tribal lands in housing (HEARTH Act) and health care (ACA) bills, and big increases in federal funding for tribal law enforcement agencies goes over rather well among Native American voters.

        • Anonymous

          6 of the ten largest reservations have more than 40% of their adults not in the labor force, with 3 having more than half of the adults not participating. These areas really needed jobs, and it’s good the administration included this in the ARRA

  • Cody

    “Obama has deported a lot of illegal immigrants” means we should vote for the guy who wants to deport all illegal immigrants and make it impossible for them to become citizens?

    How does this make sense?

    That’s like having a choice between a guy that will give you lethal injection – allegedly quick and painless – and someone that is going to burn you alive.

    “Well, I like the guy that’s going to burn me alive ’cause the other dude is going to kill me!”

    How is that logical?

    • rea

      Cody, Cody, Cody–what you do is vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, and then when Romney is elected and catastrophe results, your hands are clean. Don’t you read Greenwald? Or (Belle forgive me) Crooked Timber?

      • Leeeee

        Wouldn’t Gary Johnson be waiting at the border with a shotgun?

  • Are there really any “farmworkers advocates” who are so blindingly stupid as to make their public response to this dedication about criticizing Obama for immigration enforcement?

    “Hey, everyone, we just got the biggest bout of media attention the cause of farmworker organization has received in decades! There are actually going to be people hearing about Cesar Chavez, the farmworkers, and maybe even conditions among farm laborers. What should we do with this golden opportunity?”

    “I know what we should say: Obama Sucks!”

    Some people never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I believe it was Saul Alinsky who wrote, “When your beleaguered comrades eventually score some kind of public win, immediately squash any celebration, and change the subject to some other issue.” It goes with his other well-known piece of advice, “If you get an assist from an occasional ally, immediately lash out at him.”

    Let’s all now practice: Yes, but…Yes, but….Well, yes, but…

  • Megan

    I went to Cesar Chavez’s home a couple summers back. It really is a surprisingly lovely location, with some nice historic buildings and good interpretive displays. I’m glad it’ll be preserved.

  • Alex

    The Elk piece that Erik claims is about immigration policy is not, in fact, about immigration policy at all– it’s about occupational safety and health regulations.

    Just wanted to throw that out there.

  • Breaking: Obama’s Next Move: Hugo Chavez National Monument!

  • grackle

    “I don’t believe the National Park System doesn’t have any other sites specifically devoted to Latino history…”

    Is this what you mean, with the double negative?

  • Origuy

    The National Park Service website has a page listing places on the National Register of Historic Places that have particular relevance to Hispanic history.
    Most of these aren’t part of the NPS system, though. I’m not sure if there are any other than the CCNM.

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