Cesar Chavez 1979. (Library of Congress)
“You can’t forget what he taught us by looking at this statue.”
This is what President Biden said about the bust of Cesar Chavez, who was sitting on a table behind his desk in the Oval Office. The occasion was Biden’s proclamation, which declared Wednesday Cesar Chavez Day, the 94th birthday of the late union leader.
Anticipating what the President said, I speculated on American Greatness about what the bust of Chavez would say to the President if it could speak. It would teach him something very different from what Biden appears to have learned from viewing, if the proclamation and accompanying video message are indicative of it.
There’s a reason Chavez’s birthday is increasingly being celebrated as National Border Control Day – he was a fierce opponent of illegal immigration (and guest worker programs). He understood the fundamental truth of the relationship between employers and workers: workers have more bargaining power if their numbers are not artificially increased by loose borders and easy illegal entry. So Chavez went so far as to say that he would support the deportation of even his own mother if she were an illegal alien undermining his efforts to get higher wages for farm laborers.
In his video message, the President said: “There is no more appropriate tribute to his memory” than “to continue to fight for the rights, health and dignity of farm workers”. But in the next sentence, Biden is promoting the Agricultural Workforce Modernization Act (HR 1603), which pays off current farm workers through an eight-year indenture system and expands the existing guest worker program while inserting an indenture mechanism into it as well. Indentured servitude and the increasing importation of new labor are strange ways to help farm workers defend their rights, health and dignity.
And the White House isn’t just selling Chavez’s revisionist lie as an advocate of weak borders. it also tries implicitly to bring him as an ethnic chauvinist into the form of identity politics, as the National Council of La Raza used to call it. I say implicitly because Biden doesn’t come out and say this, but rather signals it in different ways. He pronounced Chavez’s first name in Spanish as “say-zar”, although the man always pronounced it as it is in English: “see-zer”. In the same way, the proclamation inserts accented characters above both his first and last name as you would when writing in Spanish – except that Chavez wrote in English and did not use accented characters in either handwriting or input .
In fact, Chavez was the furthest removed from a La Raza crusader. In a 1969 New York Profile he was quoted as deciphering the racism of ethnic activists: “La Raza is a very dangerous concept. I speak out very strongly against the harassment. “In a 1970 biography, one of his deputies was quoted as describing how Chavez berated the Ford Foundation for creating the National Council of La Raza (whose name has now been cleared by UnidosUS):” The foundation liked the pride of the outfit or something , and Cesar tried explaining to them where the word came from and that it was related to Hitler’s concept. “
The left is so invested in his canonization that it had to invent a new Cesar Chavez who, in very important ways, bears little resemblance to actual man.