Los Angeles (CNN) — The U.S. Navy has named one of its newest ships after Mexican-American labor organizer Cesar Chavez, officials said Wednesday.
In 1962, Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association, which grew into the United Farm Workers.
He has been widely honored for turning the spotlight on the plight of farm workers, helping bring them better pay and safer working conditions. Chavez died in 1993. Former President Bill Clinton posthumously presented Chavez with the Medal of Freedom a year later.
Chavez was a Navy veteran and apparently had mixed feelings about the experience.
“In 1944 he joined the Navy at the age of 17,” his official biography on the United Farm Workers website says. “He served two years and in addition to discrimination, he experienced strict regimentation.”
Of course, there always has to be one fucking douche. You get one guess which party he represents.
But at least one lawmaker released a statement criticizing the Navy’s decision to add Chavez to the roster.
“This decision shows the direction the Navy is heading,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who sits on the House Armed Services Committee. “Naming a ship after Cesar Chavez goes right along with other recent decisions by the Navy that appear to be more about making a political statement than upholding the Navy’s history and tradition.”
Hunter sent a letter to Mabus on Wednesday, requesting the Navy name its next available vessel after Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who the congressman said “showed an even greater pioneering spirit when he led a team of Marines into a house in Fallujah, Iraq.”
Duncan Hunter, asshole.
Let’s get into the depth and breadth of this particular asshole.
Hunter expresses concern for the Navy’s history and tradition. How do US warships get their names? I’m glad I asked. There’s a long and rather specific tradition related to how various sorts of ships are named. Following is only an excerpt – the whole thing can be viewed on Wikipedia:
- Battleships were named for states.
- Battlecruisers receive names of battles or famous ships.
- “Battlecruisers” or Large Cruisers were named for US Territories.
- Cruisers, both light and heavy, were named for cities in the United States and Territories.
- After the first nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser, USS Long Beach, CGN’s of the California and Virginia classes were named for states.
- Destroyers and destroyer escorts were named for Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard heroes.
- Frigates were likewise named after naval heroes.
- Submarines were either given a class letter and number, or the names of fish, marine mammals and crustaceans.
- Oilers were named for rivers with Native American names, and colliers named for mythical figures.
- Fast combat support ships were named after US cities.
- Ammunition ships were named either after volcanoes or words relating to fire and explosions.
- Combat stores ships were named after stars and other heavenly bodies
- Minesweepers were named for birds, or after ‘positive traits’, e.g. Adept and Dextrous
- Hospital ships were given names related to their function, such as Comfort and Mercy
- Fleet tugs and harbor tugs were named for Indian tribes
- The first forty-one nuclear ballistic missile submarines were named after historical statesmen considered “Great Americans.”
- Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines are named after states, except for USS Henry M. Jackson.
- Attack submarines are named after cites in the case of the older Los Angeles class and after states in the newer Virginia class submarines. One ship is named after a fish/other submarine and another is named after US president Jimmy Carter (the only president to serve in the Submarine service); another (now decommissioned) was named after nuclear-submarine pioneer Admiral Hyman Rickover.
- Aircraft carriers are named after American admirals and politicians, usually presidents.
- Amphibious assault ships are named after early American sailing ships, Marine Corps battles or legacy names of earlier WWII era carriers.
- Cruisers are named after battles.
- Destroyers and frigates retain their traditional naming conventions after Navy, Coast Guard and Marine heroes, except for USS Winston S. Churchill.
- Other amphibious vessels are named after cities or important places in US and US Naval history.
- Fast combat support ships are named for distinguished supply ships of the past.
- Replenishment oilers were named for shipbuilders and marine and aeronautical engineers, but have returned to the older convention of river names.
- Dry cargo ships (AKE) are named for American explorers and pioneers
So, it’s Duncan Hunter that wants to disregard Naval history and tradition. Cesar Chavez is most assuredly an American PIONEER – a pioneer of civil rights, labour rights, equality and justice. Cesar Chavez is a hero. The hideous character required to make such a disingenuous objection is thus revealed.
Apparently it doesn’t give Hunter pause for thought that before we get to American explorers and pioneers, we honour volcanoes, engineers, rivers, fish, stars, birds, Indian tribes, abstract nouns, adjectives, crustaceans and marine mammals.
Also apparently it fails to dawn on Duncan Hunter that his objection to honouring a truly great American; a veteran; a man who did more for justice and equality in America than Hunter will ever do, speaks loudly about what lies in the heart of Duncan Hunter and his shallow reflex – the ugly, unfettered Republican loathing for anyone who stands up against the corporatist hate fucking of labour, and especially immigrant labour.
The truly galling thing about this Duncan Hunter bullshit is the racism that seethes at the core of it. Duncan Hunter would be the first to deny it: He’s not racist – he chose another Hispanic to honour!
Let’s examine that a little more closely, too.
Sgt. Rafael Peralta, an immigrant who earned his green card through military service, was fatally wounded in Iraq. Enemy combatants threw a grenade but Peralta, despite his wounds, was able to pull the grenade beneath him. He was killed immediately by the explosion but his actions saved the lives of his squad.
Sgt. Peralta was nominated for the Medal of Honor. It was denied. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. It is noteworthy that of the seven nominations for the Congressional Medal of Honor that have reached the Secretary of Defense, only Sgt. Peralta’s was rejected.
Now Duncan Hunter seeks to use this hero as cover for his ratty, discreditable objection to naming a ship after Cesar Chavez.
If ever there were a more obvious facade, I’m hard pressed to think of it. It’s no different than those rotten scoundrels who opposed MLK Day while proclaiming that some of their best friends were black. Well, I have an idea, Duncan: Let’s go ask the family of Sgt. Rafael Peralta – the soldier YOU want to honour – if THEY think the ship should be named for Cesar Chavez.