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.