January 21, 2021

DISPATCHES FROM THE MEMORY HOLE:

Shot: Biden’s Cesar Chavez bust in the Oval Office signals a new era for Latinos, activists hope: ‘It shows that he’s authentic.’

—The Washington Post, today.

Chaser:

On March 31, 1927, Cesar Estrada Chavez was born in Yuma, Ariz., to parents who had come north from Mexico as children in the 1890s. He went on to found the United Farm Workers union, and by his death in 1993 had become an icon for Hispanic activist groups and the Left in general.

And his views on border control would be a perfect fit in the Trump administration.

As a child working with his family in the California fields, Cesar quickly learned the reason farmworkers were paid so little and treated so poorly: As his biographer Miriam Pawel writes, “a surplus of labor enabled growers to treat workers as little more that interchangeable parts, cheaper and easier to replace than machines.”

Chavez acolytes today try to explain away his hawkish pro-border views as coming from a different historical context, applicable only to specific strikes and the strike-breakers that farmers tried to import. But this is false.

In fact, even before he started the union and fought against illegal immigration, he was opposed to the bracero program, which legally imported cheap, disposable labor from Mexico at the expense of American citizens (of Mexican and other origins) who had been working in the fields. Pawel quotes Chavez as saying, “It looks almost impossible to start some effective program to get these people their jobs back from the braceros.”

—“Hail Cesar!”, Mark Krikorian, NRO, March 31, 2017.

Hangover: The Jonestown-like madness of Chavez’s final days.

—The Atlantic, July/August 2011.

UPDATE: Joe Biden honors prominent slaveholders as well as America’s most anti-immigrant president in Oval Office redecoration.

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