Today in hyperventilation that a mouseclick could have prevented: Easter Sunday and Google

Knowing/caring that Chavez/Chávez is a very common surname in Hispanic cultures might have helped too.

Hugo Chavez[sic] is the recently deceased former socialist President of Venezuela.

Cesar[sic] Chavez[sic] was a labor and civil rights activist. His birthday is celebrated every year on March 31st.

Easter Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, falls on March 31st this year.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, Google decided to put up a Google Doodle today, March 31st, 2013:

I’m sure some of you already see where this is going. A mouseclick instead of a kneejerk would have saved a lot of egg on a lot of faces.

*Both men’s names used accenting which Anglocentric reportage often elides: so it should be Chávez and César


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About tigtog

tigtog blogs a lot elsewhere, but here on Feministe she mostly does the tech support and feeds the giraffe. tigtog tweets in irregular flurries @vivsmythe.
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32 Responses to Today in hyperventilation that a mouseclick could have prevented: Easter Sunday and Google

  1. Emily says:

    Easter Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, falls on March 31st this year.

    In the interests of completism (I know this is pedantic, but I try to mention it when it comes up): Easter Sunday falls on March 31st and May 5th this year. Not everyone celebrates it on the same date.

  2. amblingalong says:

    Between the conservatives convinced this is a communist plot and the Christians whining about how it’s persecution and discrimination against their beliefs, I’ve had a fun depressing day.

  3. matlun says:

    I do not quite get how that worked.

    Someone saw the picture on Google, and then what? They checked the linked info and as soon as they saw the name “Chavez” (after skipping Cesar) their brains just went into meltdown so that they could not take in any more information? Because they did manage to specify “Hugo Chavez” and not just “Chavez” in the original tweet.

    Not to get into all the rest who uncritically propagated the false rumor…

    • tigtog says:

      I suspect it’s mainly confirmation bias, matlun. If one already believes that Google is a hive of leftist scum and villainy because one is steeped in an anti-leftist ideology, then Chávez can only be the name of one demonised person and it just confirms what you knew about Google all along, in fact it’s so damned obvious that not a single further piece of information is required.

  4. Pseudonym says:

    The question of accent marks piqued my interest. Could “Cesar Chavez” be considered an English transliteration of the Spanish name “César Chávez”? Or is it naïve of me to think that diacritical marks play no rôle in the English language? Who is the current president of China? 习近平? Xí Jìnpíng? Xi Jinping?

    • tigtog says:

      While I defend any and all pedanticism that takes the trouble to note that TWIAVBP (i.e. that how my/your/this culture does a thing is not the way that all cultures do that thing), I tend to have rather less patience for pedanticism which appears to prioritise/justify/defend the Anglospheric status quo of eliding diverse cultural mores during most discussions of just about anything.

      Although it is a nice illustration of exactly the sort of elision that leads to clusterfucks such as what happened in the OP.

    • Chataya says:

      Pīnyīn all the way. Wade-Giles can sit on a fork.

    • matlun says:

      Chinese is a bit different since these are two very different writing systems and you basically have to invent the spelling phonetically. That being said, simply Xi Jinping seems to be the preferred form. It seems to be what the Chinese embassies and consulates are using anyway.

      As to Cesar Chavez: Does anyone know which spelling he went with himself? Doing some google, Chavez seems to be the more common spelling, while Hugo Chávez is the more common variant of that name. And for example wiki says “Cesar Chavez (born César Estrada Chávez…”. I would say the most correct spelling should be considered the one he preferred himself…

      We are really drifting off-topic here.

      • amblingalong says:

        I would say the most correct spelling should be considered the one he preferred himself…

        Yeah, this is (for me anyways) the Golden Rule of everything identity-related, with very few exceptions.

      • Annaleigh says:

        Yeah, this is (for me anyways) the Golden Rule of everything identity-related, with very few exceptions.

        This. Can’t go wrong with it.

        I will say it’s possible that his name may have both been used with/without accents. A lot of people of Mexican descent (I likely can’t speak for other groups) just never use the accents in Spanish surnames because they just aren’t used here in the USA very much. I know my mother’s family has not used accents in our surnames in generations. But there are other people who might use the accents. Given his family history I think it could go either way for him.

    • karak says:

      Accent marks are rare in standard English because our keyboards/phones/whatever aren’t set up to make them easily accessible. I cringe slightly when I leave an accent off a word, but I honestly have no idea how to make it happen.

      • EG says:

        Accents were rare in standard English long before we had keyboards. It’s the other way round: our keyboards and phones aren’t set up for them because we rarely use them.

  5. gratuitous_violet says:

    “Homer, I am the ghost of César Chávez.”
    “Why do you look like Cesar Romero?”
    “Because you don’t know what César Chávez looks like!”

  6. Willard says:

    I know he wasn’t all sparkles and ponies, but on the “He’s a Dictator” scale he came in well below some of the guys US politicians have bent over backwards for. Though I guess calling the sainted G.W. the devil is worth some extra points to the neo-cons.

    Also, I was sooo happy to make it through last week with only one awkward “What are you doing for Easter” conversation. I really hate this time of year.

    • matlun says:

      I agree that Cesar Chavez was not much of a dictator.

      (Even Hugo Chavéz was not really a dictator. He only ever came to power through free elections)

      • amblingalong says:

        (Even Hugo Chavéz was not really a dictator. He only ever came to power through free elections)

        Yeah, this is crap. The elections themselves were OK, sure, but when you imprison opposition parties, shut down unfriendly media outlets, destroy the independent judiciary, and jail human rights advocates, it doesn’t matter how well you run the actual voting, the elections aren’t ‘free.’

        For fuck’s sake, Chavez had a judge jailed for refusing to imprison a political opponent for more than three years. The rush to defend his legacy is knee-jerk reactionary politics- if the conservatives hate him, he must be OK after all!

      • amblingalong says:

        I’m probably just an imperialist stooge though.

      • tigtog says:

        You’re poisoning the well with that imperialist stooge crack, amblingalong.

        Hugo Chavez is an intensely problematic figure – so many social justice reforms that genuinely helped the poor and downtrodden combined with so much repression, censorship, and injustice against his opponents. His legacy is complex.

      • matlun says:

        @amblingalong:
        My point in the above comment was simply: While I hold no special sympathy for him, I do not believe you could call him a dictator.

        Perhaps this was due only to the fact that he never lost an election so that we did not get to see whether he would have stepped down or not, and that his earlier coup attempt failed. Still – that is how it worked out.

      • amblingalong says:

        You’re poisoning the well with that imperialist stooge crack, amblingalong.

        Fair enough; apologies.

        Hugo Chavez is an intensely problematic figure – so many social justice reforms that genuinely helped the poor and downtrodden combined with so much repression, censorship, and injustice against his opponents. His legacy is complex.

        I agree with this, but at the risk out sounding contrarian, I also think the social justice reforms are a complex issue. Certainly, he instituted a much more egalitarian distribution/investment of oil revenues than many other petrostates, and it’s absolutely inarguable that under his regime poverty fell significantly. At the same time, his economic reforms caused major shortages of staple goods, even as they pushed prices down; it turns out that for all the hate they get, one thing the classical economists pretty much have right is what happens when you impose production quotas and price ceilings.

        I don’t mean ‘complex’ as a sneaky way of saying ‘totally awful.’ Chavez absolutely instituted some brilliant public policies, especially a massive micro-loan program and a strong rural health care system. But rampant nationalization isn’t just a bad idea in some abstract, libertarian sense- it leads, and in this case led, to tangible economic problems. You can see this in indicators like the overwhelming inflation rate, but also in things as concrete as the massive rise of food imports to Venezuela, which are compensating for an industry the government tried to run and subsequently decimated.

        Anyways, the reason I’m staying on this point is just that I’ve seen a tremendous rush to rehabilitate Chavez’s image among the progressive left, I think partly out of reflexive anti-conservatism. While I shouldn’t have implied that I believed that was motivating any specific poster here, I do think it’s a problematic movement overall.

        While I hold no special sympathy for him, I do not believe you could call him a dictator. Perhaps this was due only to the fact that he never lost an election so that we did not get to see whether he would have stepped down or not, and that his earlier coup attempt failed. Still – that is how it worked out.

        Like I said, it depends on how you define the word. In my view, there’s more to an election being legitimate than simply having the person with the most votes take office. If you don’t allow a political opposition to exist, then yes, you’re probably going to win.

      • EG says:

        it leads, and in this case led, to tangible economic problems.

        I think the bigger question is whether those problems are worse than the problems caused by rampant capitalism. It seems to me that those problems get trotted out whenever anyone tries to suggest a progressive economic shift, while the problems caused by capitalism are accepted with a shrug of “sadly, that’s the way it is.” Why are some problems unacceptable and others merely the way of the world?

      • amblingalong says:

        I think the bigger question is whether those problems are worse than the problems caused by rampant capitalism. It seems to me that those problems get trotted out whenever anyone tries to suggest a progressive economic shift, while the problems caused by capitalism are accepted with a shrug of “sadly, that’s the way it is.” Why are some problems unacceptable and others merely the way of the world?

        \

        You’ve a hidden premise in there, namely that the problems caused by a centrally planned economy replace those caused by capitalism, instead of simply adding more problems to the pile. I don’t think there’s much evidence for that; in the case of Venezuela,nationalization simply didn’t achieve the goal of cheaper, widely available goods. Instead, it led to a massive dependence on imported food, and a whole lot of localized economic damage.

        Advocates of ‘progressive economic shifts’ (and what a strained euphemism that is) tend to tie social programs and the takeover of industry and private property together. There’s no coherent reason to do so. The nationalization of agriculture didn’t finance the microlending; the two are distinct, separately evaluable public policies. The latter was a success; the first, a disaster.

        Centrally planned economies just don’t work. Governments are spectacularly bad at running businesses; total insulation from market pressures tends not to incentivize efficiency or innovation. Of course, I’m sure you’ve heard all this before, and didn’t find it convincing the first (or second, or third) time around.

  7. PeggyLuWho says:

    Am I only one that also finds this amusing because César Chávez was Catholic and the UFW were supported by the church? Or maybe this was a fact missed by most people who aren’t a California native and the grandchild of farm workers?

    • tigtog says:

      This Aussie definitely found that amusing.

    • victoria says:

      Yeah, I found it incredibly ironic, especially given that so many of Chávez’s protest actions featured decidedly Catholic/Christian imagery and involved prayer and fasting. Steven Colbert also had a fun bit about it on his April 1 show.

    • Annaleigh says:

      Yup, it’s pretty bitterly ironic, I must say (as someone whose hometown is Delano, California, is also the child/grandchild of former farmworkers and whose Delano Catholic relatives attend the parish in town most associate with the UFW…).

      I was shocked and delighted when I saw the doodle but the racist and ignorant responses of people were just very facepalmly. The last time anyone was this offensive, imo, is when Tucker Carlson had his short-lived program on MSNBC and his show was showing footage taken at Cesar Chavez High School here in Delano during an assembly with Arnold Schwarzenegger for Cesar Chavez Day. It was in the news because a couple of girls fainted and Schwarzenegger helped them up. Anyway, the privileged twit (Tucker) was very dismissive of Cesar and of Cesar Chavez Day. It was nauseating.

  8. Leah says:

    Haven’t seen this one yet, but I’ve seen so many images/freakouts like this lately because people can’t read or look for sources. I’m thinking mainly of “Judgments” by Rosea Lake/roseaposey, which went around tumblr with credit but facebook without. I can sort of understand misinterpreting an image out of context (not that it excuses it), but not to notice a first name seems like a huge thing to miss. Think before you tweet!

  9. PeggyLuWho says:

    I’m waiting with bated breath for the uproar over today’s Maria Sibylla Merian doodle to begin.

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