I always say (to myself, anyway) you wait long enough... and there will surely be something to blog about.
Google's decision to run a graphic for the birthday of Cesar Chavez on Easter should really be no big deal - though I have to admit, I was a little surprised, until I realized they were the same day. Easter was a busy day this year - I'm now on Facebook, and two other FB friends (or as I used to say, friends) also had birthdays on Easter. And it was Easter. And Passover.... and a bunch of other stuff, which was kind of sad.
Anyway, I don't think it's surprising, exactly, that the conservative right went nuts over the linking of Chavez to Easter - or, more hilariously, that they mistook Cesar Chavez for Hugo Chavez, the recently deceased leader of Venezuela, which made them all the angrier. I mean, as they say, we do all look alike, especially when the last names are similar.
In the wake of Republicans trying to rebuild a relationship with Latin Americans, though, this farce is basically example A of why most of these efforts are doomed. Too often and for too long, the right wing's predictable responses to even the mildest discussions of liberal figures - Cesar's hardly worth the controversy, and let's face it, Hugo's dead - is screaming outrage. And the outrage just seems misplaced - and in the case of Venezuela, awfully late now that the real question is whether Venezuela will simply fall apart in the wakr of his (er, Hugo's) death.
But the enmity for the Chavezes and all they represent - the union building, poverty work and immigration friendly politics of Cesar; or the communistic approach to governing Venezuela more in favor of the downtrodden - is what's really going to keep conservatism, and by extension the GOP, from going wide. There's just got to be something about Hispanic culture and politics that conservatives have to figure out how to support and present positively, or it's just, don't bother. This story is already over.
And it's not as though liberals are going to care deeply about whether Republicans get this right or not - frankly, at this point, the left's view of the right's Hispanic outreach is just that, as farce. The guys who want double edged barbed wire along the Mexican border, whose most extreme elements would actually try to round up "illegals" in every corner of the country and deport them, whose last Presidential candidate attracted about 30% of the Latin vote - these guys are not people we take seriously as any sort of threat. Have at it guys, because at the rate you're going, we'll get Hispanic support for the Democrats up to or near the 90+% numberws we enjoy with African Americans. Not even trying.
Of course, beyond the gloating, all of this is depressing. It's depressing to hear the shrill rhetoric opposed to anything that might make life even sort of slightly better for people on the edges of society, be they migrant farmworkers or the poorest citizens of a third world country. It's disheartening to see people you might otherwise at least respect as thoughtful opponents descend into the absurd anger and shrieking of the fringiest conservative elements, or even at a minimum, simply draw a line, any line, about rhetoric that goes too far. When Don Young of Alaska, a member of House leadership, blithely refers to "wetbacks" with little more than "oh, gee" from other Republicans, that's the kind of thing that shows what the right accepts in its senior leadership. For God's sake, this isn't hard.
But then that's Easter in the land of politics: dressing things up, trying to put a kindly face on the oldest of stories (I've always preferred the Potestant version, which sems to focus on the white light and the post-rising Good News rather than the more Catholic-seeming obsession with the pain and suffering He felt on the cross), candy coating the bad stuff so we won't maybe notice. The same week of all these Hispanic fumbles, the right is practically in seizures as (several) lifetimes of antigay rhetoric don't add up to a hill of beans fighting marriage equality, the battle they can lose now, or lose later. By Sunday, even Catholic priests in America were scrambling to find the right words to try and evince some sort of caring for gay people, even while condeming homosexuality and absolutey trying to rule marriage off limits. The contortions were breathtaking, the mixed messages were head scratchingly confused. We - the angry gay radicals of near limitless power, thank you John Roberts - have apparently managed, if nothing else, to turn "homophobia" into such a dirty word that conservatives almost universally flinch as they try to expalin opposing unions for people they really, really... well, we don't hate them, we just think they should settle for second best... or something. Really... breathtaking.
It's a weird Easter this year - it came too early, the weather's too weird for it, all of these crazy controversies and a new Pope who seems, genuinely, to believe that "poverty" and "humility" are not just nice words but a better, more honest way, to approach one's duties as a Priest. No cars, furs, or penthouse papal apartments? Good lord, now what?
It's a weird Easter, in some weird zone between secular and religious, where liberal theology and social justice apparently won the war while no one was looking. A moment when the Christian, decent things we can all pretty much sign on to - treating each other decently, caring for those less fortunate, helping those in actual need - seem to trump the less pleasing notions of doing for ourselves, getting what's mine, and judging others with a critical eye. It's an Easter big enough for the death of Christ, the birthday of the man who stood for farm workers, and even my friend the married gay minister. And that's pretty good... for the love of God.