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César Chávez National Monument

[ 26 ] October 10, 2012 |

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.

Comments (26)

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  1. c u n d gulag says:

    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.

  2. howard says:

    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.

  3. wengler says:

    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.

  4. DocAmazing says:

    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.

  5. Cody says:

    “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?

  6. 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…

  7. Megan says:

    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.

  8. Alex says:

    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.

  9. virag says:

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

  10. grackle says:

    “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?

  11. Origuy says:

    The National Park Service website has a page listing places on the National Register of Historic Places that have particular relevance to Hispanic history.
    http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/feature/hispanic/index.htm
    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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