The US Navy has named a ship after civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. Self-taught historian, David Barton, may think Chavez is unworthy of emulation and the Arlington School Board may think he doesn’t deserve to have a special day, but the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus takes a different view:
Cesar Chavez inspired young Americans to do what is right and what is necessary to protect our freedoms and our country. The Cesar Chavez will sail hundreds of thousands of miles and will bring support and assistance to thousands upon thousands of people. His example will live on in this great ship.
I’m not sure Cesar and Ray would see eye-to-eye on “what is necessary to protect our freedoms”, but it is nice to see a man of honor and courage getting a little respect after serving several years as the unofficial pinata of Texas conservatives.
The Chavez biography on the United Farm Workers website notes that, “In 1944 he joined the Navy at the age of 17. He served two years and in addition to discrimination, he experienced strict regimentation.”
Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, says the decision to honor Chavez in this way was politically motivated. He would have preferred to see a ship named after Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who “showed an even greater pioneering spirit when he led a team of Marines into a house in Fallujah, Iraq.”
Civil rights leaders don’t glimmer prominently in the conservative firmament.