October 23, 2012

Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez

Chavez was particularly taken with a Synanon practice called “€œThe Game,”€ another Maoist “€œstruggle session”€ ripoff of the sort so popular at the time, refashioned to accommodate the imaginary “€œneeds”€ of rich, guilty white Western liberals.

Chavez’s inner circle could hardly be described in those terms, but that didn”€™t prevent him from foisting this radioactive ritual of accusation and humiliation on his employees at La Paz. Those who refused to participate were expelled. 

Shortly after Obama’s benedictions at the scene of these freaky stunts, NPR interviewed Matt Garcia, a professor at Arizona State and author of a candid book about Chavez and the UFW. Garcia talked about taking his students to hear archived tapes of meetings Chavez held with staffers:

[M]y students would walk out of from listening to those tapes and say, I hate Cesar Chavez….And I started listening to it, as well, and we started transcribing it and there are moments of vulgarity.

Despite NPR’s presumed possession of functional (taxpayer-funded) audio equipment, producers didn”€™t think to broadcast actual excerpts, in which Chavez can be heard saying:

Every time we look at them, they want more money. Like pigs, you know. Here we”€™re slaving, and we”€™re starving and the goddamn workers don”€™t give a shit about anything.

After all, these “€œpigs”€”€”shades (or should that be “€œsmears”€?) of the Manson Family there”€”detracted from Chavez’s true goal: personal sainthood, not improving the lives of migrant workers (some say they”€™re worse off today than they were before he showed up”€”except for the handful who qualify for the UFW’s $100-million pension fund).

A psychologist chided once-famous professional Trappist monk Thomas Merton: “€œYou want a hermitage in Times Square with a large sign over it saying “€˜Hermit.”€™”€ Cesar Chavez was cut from the same coarse cloth. He “€œonce used his union connections to keep a plane grounded so that he could make his flight to see the pope.”€

With his awfully public fasting and peregrinations, Chavez treated penance as a publicity stunt.

For a time, it worked. Yet as those half-assed “€œmemorials”€ and “€œhonors”€ make clear, Chavez was ultimately denied his spot in the highest echelons of the boomer “€œaction figure”€ pantheon.

During his NPR interview, professor Garcia noted:

I remember the day that Cesar Chavez died and kids broke into tears. These were mostly Mexican immigrant children and they were crying because they thought it was Julio Cesar Chavez, the boxer.

How does that song go again? “€œNo, you can”€™t fool the children of the revolution.”€

 


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