On Easter Sunday, the world's largest search engine, Google, rendered unto Cesar.
Chavez, that is.
Cue Twitter explosion in 5, 4, 3, 2.....
What happened? OK, you all know those Google doodles -- the artwork created within the lettering of the Google icon at the top of their homepage. The relevance of these varies -- sometimes it marks a major event like Valentine's Day, or sometimes it honors something as obscure as the 112th birthday of the guy who invented the waffle iron (I made that up, but you get the idea). To the extent people pay close attention, a company like Google with global ambition stays away from religious themes -- i.e., it tends to honor the Christmas season with the snowman over the manger.
In 2013, the planets lined up, literally. so that Easter -- the holiest day for 2 billion Christians around the world -- fell on March 31. Or, as it's known at Google headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., the 86th birthday of Cesar Chavez, the union organizer of poor Latino farmworkers in the 1960s and '70s, venerated civil rights activist among American Hispanics...and liberal icon.
The selection of Chavez over Christ (or, more likely, the Easter bunny) did not sit well on the right side of your opinion dial.
Here's the conservative site Twitchy, founded by the pundit Michele Malkin, whose article included a string of predictably angry Twitter posts:
Yep. While two billion Christians around the world celebrate Easter Sunday on this 31st day of March, Google is using its famous “Doodle” search logo art to mark the birth of left-wing labor leader Cesar Chavez.
Christians from all walks of life and political views expressed shock, dismay, and exasperation with Google’s diss:
But here's where the story takes a far-right turn off a cliff. Remember, the AM talk-radio cognoscenti have been obsessing for days about Chavez -- not Cesar (who died in 1993) but Hugo, the Venezuelan socialist president and conservative bete noir who died earlier this year. Apparently to some folks, when you wave a Chavez in front of their face they'll see Hugo, no matter what.
Indeed, it turns out that the original version of that Twitchy article that was brimming with outrage said that Google was honoring Hugo Chavez on Easter. A number of folks took the bait. Gerald Krueger (@wwpevents) tweeted: "On resurrection Sunday Google scum bags honored Hugo Chavez a murderer and Dictator human waste... Great job Google Hell is hot DYK." Microblogged Joseph DeFranco (@joedefranco) : "Hugo Chavez being honored on google today, I guess tomorrow it will be Jim Carrey!"
Then there's George W. Bush's former press secretary Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) who added: "I thought the Chavez-google thing was a hoax or an early April Fool's Day prank...are they just going to leave that up there all day?"
Did Perino think it was Hugo or Cesar? Does it matter? Either way, she's just plain ignorant.
Remember the entire quote attributed to Jesus: "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." In other words, do we not live in a world where we can honor a holy champion of the poor and a secular one at the same time? If anyone turned on a TV or radio or (gulp) opened a newspaper today, they may have noticed that the celebration of Christ's ascension resurrection hasn't exactly been ignored. But in addition, we have the actual birthday of Cesar Chavez, a national hero. In fact, I probably won't live long enough, but it wouldn't shock me if my children live someday in an America where Chavez's birthday (not Hugo's) is a national holiday. Google is just ahead of the curve.
Meanwhile, it makes you wonder how that Republican Party Latino outreach program is going.