When it comes to American figures, we all have our favorites. Emerson and Thoreau had some good lines, Warren’s got a whole court named after him, Twain’s always good for a quote or two, and for contrarians, there’s always Aaron Burr.
There are so many awesome historical Americans, however, that we have to divide them into subcategories just to include more favorites. Favorite presidents is a popular one—in fact, we have an entire nationally-sanctioned day for celebrating them.
That day occurred last week. You probably didn’t know that since, unlike much of the rest of the American public, we had to go to work and class on Monday.
And here’s the problem with that: We do not get Presidents’ Day off, but we do get César Chvez Day off.
I am all in favor of farm unionizers who fight for the rights of all workers. But I am also in favor of every relevant leader of this country over the course of our history.
In fact, without those crucially significant leaders, there would be no California grape farmers at all, let alone unionized ones. American workers’ rights would be a theoretical framework, at best. It is ridiculous to ignore a national holiday celebrating every primary leader of the United States of America—the country where we are all currently living and attending school—while choosing to celebrate the accomplishments of a single person.
Doing so actually demeans Chvez’s significant accomplishments because celebrating César Chvez Day while steadfastly ignoring Presidents’ Day necessarily weighs one against the other.
No matter how you adjust those scales, presidential heft will take the cake, with or without William Howard Taft. It is fraudulent, not to mention farcical, to measure Chvez against our presidential history and declare him the winner. To do so is to turn Chvez into a straw man. I think Pomona should celebrate César Chvez Day, but in that case, we need to celebrate Presidents’ Day too.