Sunday, July 8, 2012

Delores Huerta and Rush Limbaugh

I have tremendous respect for both Delores Huerta and Rush Limbaugh. That makes this posting difficult.

President Obama awarded Delores the Presidential Medal of Freedom on May 29, 2012. She well deserved it.

Rush Limbaugh then went off on a 10 minute soliloquy against the award, with some vicious remarks directed at Delores. He knew little, if anything about the award winner, before she received it.

Delores at 82 has led an incredible life that reflects the diversity of America and the opportunities in America to excel in an infinite number of ways.

Delores Huerta and Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers in 1962. The plight of our farm workers is devastating. They often engage in stoop labor at low wages in the burning sun for extended periods of time. They do not ride in the air conditioned John Deeres of the Midwest farmers. They live and work in poverty, squalor, and with their families, are often exposed to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.

Cesar, as President, was the public face of the UFW. Delores, as First Vice President, was the internal organizer of the union. In a sense, Cesar was the good cop and Delores the bad cop. I remember being told in 1990 that on occasion when negotiations were going nowhere, Cesar would leave the room and threaten to have Delores take over. 

The UFW was open to all farmworkers, and not as often assumed, only Hispanics.

She became a political activist. Delores was present with Senator Robert Kennedy when he was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. She presented the nominating speech for Hillary Clinton at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Delores participated in a peaceful demonstration against President George H. W. Bush in San Francisco in September 1988. She was severely beaten by the San Francisco Police Department. Her spleen was removed to save her life.

Her lawsuit against San Francisco and the SFPD resulted in a substantial settlement.

She has received many honorary degrees and prizes. President Clinton awarded her the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights in 1998. Several schools have been named for her in California, Colorado, and Texas.

Delores used her settlement and award monies to establish the Delores Huerta Foundation in 2002. The Foundation funds community organizing activities.

She spoke at Chapman University to a standing room audience.

Delores Huerta is a distinguished American deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

So what upset Rush Limbaugh so much? She is a labor and community organizer, but that’s not the main problem. She was a teacher without a degree. However, she had a provisional teaching certificate. She had 11 children, some out of wedlock. Her children though have been highly successful, including doctors and lawyers.

She believes in income redistribution, and is Honorary Chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, as well as being a Marxist.

He argued therefore that President Obama rendered meaningless the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “It’s just a political award. That’s all it is.”

Of course, every President lets his political viewpoints into the award.

However, if you watch the 10 minute video on Youtube, you will see and hear that almost all the invective is directed at the President. He felt that the award in light of her background, as he knew it, reflected the anti-Americanism of the President.

The President certainly does not represent traditional American values, but that comes with the voters electing an advocate of “Hope and Change.”

Elections have consequences.

(By way of disclosure, I did some legal work for the UFW in 1990)

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